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World War Z

World War Z

by Max Brooks

Roy Elliot

Character Analysis

There isn't a lot of discussion of art in World War Z—probably because it's hard to find the time to snuggle up with a good book while a zombie swarm tries to snuggle up to you. Still, the novel dedicates some discussion to the arts and their place in the zombie war, and it does so with the tale of one Roy Elliot.

During the initial months of the zombie war, many people died from a condition called ADS or Asymptomatic Demise Syndrome. What this syndrome basically comes down to is people losing the will to live and then, um, not living. Pre-war director extraordinaire, Roy Elliot, decides to take action and directs some movies showing humanity championing the zombies. And it works: cases of ADS drop after the films are aired.

Roy's story shows us the life-affirming aspects of art. A world without art is literally not worth living in. Granted, Roy's films fiddle a bit with the truth a bit, but as he himself points out:

Yes, they were lies and sometimes that's not a bad thing. Lies are neither bad nor good. Like a fire they can either keep you warm or burn you to death, depending on how they're used. (6.4.48)

In World War Z's case, the lies that keep us "happy and blind" are the "ones that burn" (6.4.48). But lies that help us see and deal with the truth—the lies of art—are worth keeping around. And we here at Shmoop tend to agree.

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