World War Z
How we cite our quotes:
They warned me not to touch him, that he was "cursed." (2.1.11)
These Chinese villagers mix fear with a dollop of irrationality. As the novel progresses, we'll see that these two flavors go well together.
The older ones, they just started running. They had a different kind of survival instinct, an instinct born in a time when they were slaves in their own country. In those days, everyone knew who "they" were ever coming, and if "they" were ever coming, all you could do was run and pray. (2.5.6)
Here, the novel connects the theme of "Fear" to the theme of "Man & the Natural World." We fear things because it's a part of our natural survival instinct. Thanks to a history of slavery, the older ones have that survival instinct honed to a sharp point. (And they're pretty good at using sharp points, too.)
If a neighbor's nuclear power plant might be used to make weapons-grade plutonium, you dig; if a dictator was rumored to be building a cannon so big it could fire anthrax shells across whole countries, you dig; and if there was even the slightest chance that dead bodies were being reanimated as ravenous killing machines, you dig and dig until you stike [sic] the absolute truth. (2.6.8)
Jurgen's country has trained itself to response to fearful scenarios by learning as much as possible to make informed decisions. As we'll see in the "Education" section, this response to fear seems to be the book's preferred one.