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World War Z

World War Z


by Max Brooks

Paul Redeker

Character Analysis

At the end of Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan, Spock sacrifices himself to save the Enterprise, stating "the needs of the many out weight the needs of the few."

Paul Redeker must have been a huge Spock fan because he's basically a Vulcan minus the ears. Only instead of one Vulcan saving a starship's worth of people, Redeker has a few million people sacrifice themselves for an entire world. Although he does save the human race from extinction, Redeker—like Spock—pays the price: he spends the rest of his days in a psychiatric institution.

Saint Redeker

Redeker first comes to the attention of the South African apartheid government because of his university papers, "all dealing with alternate 'solutions' to historical, societal quandaries." These papers—and his "Orange Eighty-Four" project—cause people to label him a racist, but Redeker's argument against racism is simply to "imagine what could be accomplished if the human race would only shed its humanity" (5.1.3). His life goal is to do just that.

All of his plans are cold and calculating. If one person or a thousand people need to be sacrificed so a million may live, then his plan calls for it. Lies, murder, trickery, war—all these things are available for us so long as the greater good is meet. The Categorical Imperative this is not.

But for Redeker to help humanity he had to shed his own. Hello, irony, it's been awhile.

Azania mentions that "Redeker's lifelong jihad against emotion was the only way to protect his sanity from the hatred and brutality he witnessed on a daily basis" (5.1.20). To expand on that, his emotional jihad also helps lessen the hatred and brutality of the zombie wars by preventing them from continuing longer than they needed to. Unfortunately for Redeker, to lose hatred and brutality, he also has to lose love and kindness.


Redeker's plan works. Since the whole world more or less adopts his plan, he manages to prevent World War Z from continuing until humanity's total destruction. No doubt he'll be known only as Saint Redeker form here on in, right? Right?

Not exactly. Redeker's plan has to be carried out by the people in charge, like Travis D'Ambrosia, as well as those in the mist of fighting like Philip Adler. These are the people who have to do the deeds and suffer the emotional toil that Redeker himself couldn't deal with.

In the end, Redeker's "emotional jihad" wasn't a quest to end hatred and brutality. It seems a lot more like an attempt to pass on that hatred and brutality to someone else.

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