I am dead, but it's not so bad. I've learned to live with it. (1.1.1)
The first line of the book sets up the dilemma R is going through. The subtext is "death kinda sucks, but I'm dealing with it." Sounds like every other living young adult protagonist. Death, like life, is something you have to survive.
We like having the walls and roofs over our heads. Otherwise we'd just be wandering in an open field of dust somewhere. [...] I imagine that's what being full-dead is like. An emptiness vast and absolute. (1.1.8)
A zombie thinking about death? How existential. We thought death would finally be a break from all these unanswered questions. But maybe wondering never ceases.
It disquieted me at first but it's against etiquette to notice when one of us dies. I distracted myself with some groaning. (1.1.15)
It's a little strange that the Dead have no grieving process for the Dead who die. Perhaps they're just used to being on the other end of things—doing the killing instead of the dying.
There are so many options for dying in this new world. [...] All roads lead to us, the Dead, and our very unglamorous immortality. (1.5.12)
If the Living knew what being a zombie was like, do you think they'd be a little less afraid of dying? Frankly, it doesn't seem like much of a lifestyle change.
What you are, I once was. What I am, you will become. (1.6.10)
R gets this little bit of wisdom from a Latin saying he's read somewhere. It pretty much means that we all live, and we all die. Death is the great equalizer, the one thing we all have in common.
"Why would you want your last thought to be a replay of your dirty, meaningless death?"
"You think death isn't meaningful?" (1.7.88-1.7.89)
We wonder why R considers death "dirty" and "meaningless." Could it be because he's caused so much of it in his life... er, death? Or maybe after being dead so long, and not finding any meaning in it, he's just sick of it. He's like a zombie Meursault.
"There are a thousand kinds of life and death across the whole metaphysical spectrum, not to mention the metaphorical. You don't want to stay dead for the rest of your life, do you?" (1.7.91)
Sure there are thousands of ways to die, but we can only think of one kind of death. The dead kind that no one comes back from. What are the thousands kinds of death that Perry speaks of? And could he be talking about himself here?
I don't want to die. I don't want to disappear. I want to stay. (1.7.117)
Coming from a dead guy, this kind of sounds absurd. In the grand scheme of things, is it "fair" that R gets a second shot at life?
"[A plant] is a meaningless decoration. It sits there consuming time and resources, and then one day it decides to die, no matter how much you watered it. It's absurd to attach an emotion to something so brief and pointless." (1.10.94)
Major Dad's little rant about plants is dripping with bitterness. From an objective standpoint, you could say the same thing about people, instead of plants, and he's probably thinking of his dead wife, even if only subconsciously, as he spews this anti-plant rhetoric.
I am a teenage boy aflame with health, strong and virile and pounding with energy. But I get older. Every second ages me. [...] Each death around me adds a decade. Each atrocity, each tragedy, each small moment of sadness. Soon I will be ancient. (2.1.1)
There isn't much difference between living and dying when you look at it this way. Once the body stops growing, it starts dying, decaying little by little each day on the slow march to the grave. Have a nice day!
"There's something meaningful about growing things." (1.10.78)
Perry's original dream job is to be involved in gardening, to grow food and provide society with more options. This cultivating instinct becomes a part of R, too. When R eats Perry's brain, it plants a seed (see what we did there?) that becomes an idea, which leads R toward his goal of changing the world.
"You're going to be strong and beautiful and brilliant, and you're going to live forever. You're going to change the world." (1.10.149)
This line from Perry to Julie is almost as sappy as Eric Clapton's "Change the World." Almost. But once you know how Warm Bodies ends, this line turns out be a pretty big piece of foreshadowing.
"You're wrong. You fucking monsters are wrong. About everything." (1.10.195)
R is angry here, obviously. He's angry at the world. The monsters here aren't the zombies, they're the people who readily give in to death, like it's their only choice. This anger drives R to change things.
We'll see what happens when we say yes while this rigor mortis world screams no. (1.10.239)
This quote reminds us of The Beatles "Hello, Goodbye," which is referenced a couple times in this book. R says yes, the world says no, it says stop, and R says go go go. The world says goodbye, but he says hello.
I'm fairly sure Julie's question has never, ever been asked before. (2.2.96)
Julie's question is about kissing a zombie. We'd google "kissing a zombie" to see if this has ever been asked before, but we're scared of what the results might be. Also, we don't want that saved in our browser cache. Who knew that all it takes to change the world is a little necrophilia?
"There's still hope, that we can turn things around somehow, blah fucking blah. It's just... getting a lot harder to believe lately." (2.2.172)
Change requires hope. Even though Julie's yellow hope wall is blank, it's still, you know, there. She may not be the best at coming up with ideas (see 2.6) but she's got hope, so that's something.
"We don't care about assigning blame for the human condition, we just want to cure it." (2.6.45)
You know when people have (or think they have) a chronic medical problem and they call it their "condition"? This is how Julie views the "human condition": as a sickness. And Dr. Julie is determined to cure it.
I know that I have a choice, and I choose to change no matter what the cost. (2.6.115)
R realizes this as he's dining on some tasty human flesh. But it's okay, it's not too late! He decides to change right then and not eat the brain. It's a start, but we can really just decide not to die and live forever? Does it seriously work that way? Maybe in the world of Warm Bodies it does.
I'm not a general or a colonel or a builder of cities. I'm just a corpse who wants not to be. (2.8.7)
The general (Julie's dad), Colonel (Rosso), and builder of cities (Perry's dad), didn't do anything but preserve the status quo. Here R learns that you don't have to be in a position of power to be an agent of change.
We will not let the Earth become a tomb, a mass grave spinning through space. We will exhume ourselves. We will fight the curse and break it. (3.1.62)
Most of the change R and Julie focus on has to do with humans. You'd think all the humans-eating-humans action might make the people a little more sympathetic toward livestock. Do you think they'll apply this change toward a vegetarian lifestyle and eternal life for other organisms, too?
I miss my own [name] and I mourn for everyone else's, because I'd like to love them, but I don't know who they are. (1.1.7)
R finds it impossible to love someone if he doesn't know their name. This is one of the reasons he falls for Julie so hard: she's the first person he's met in a long, long time who has a name.
I think I remember what love was like before. There were complex emotional and biological factors. [...] The new love is simpler. Easier. But small. (1.1.40)
Boy, yeah, love is complicated. R finds that without all the hormones and pheromones and pesky social things like talking or finding something in common, love is heck of a lot easier as a zombie. However, making it easy also kind of takes the fun out of it.
I want our cells to braid together like living thread. (1.2.40)
This is Perry's thought when he and Julie hook up for the first time. He has this desire to become one with her—which is another subtle foreshadowing, as at the end of the book Perry inside of R does end up combining cells with Julie (and vice-versa) to create something new.
I put a hand on my chest, over my heart. My "heart." Does that pitiful organ still represent anything? (1.6.50)
Can the heart still symbolize love even when it's not beating? More importantly, why does the heart even symbolize love in the first place? Doesn't that a fact that it's zombie chow kind of ruin that?
In my palm I can feel the echo of her pulse, standing in for the absence of mine. (1.7.66)
Just like R feeds off the brain of others to have memories, he kind of feeds off of Julie's love to have a love of his own. At least in this case, he isn't doing it literally, slurping Julie's veins out like spaghetti. Mmm. Spaghetti with red sauce.
I imagine [Julie] without skin. I know from grim experience that there is a beauty to her inner layers, too. (1.10.156)
So beauty isn't just skin deep, eh? R really loves who Julie is on the inside, quite literally, eh? Okay, we're out of jokes. This is just gross.
"Do you think it's stupid? [...] To fall in love." (2.1.53, 2.1.55)
This is a question Perry asks his dad, wondering if it's silly to fall in love when the end of the world is going on. Has this kid never seen a movie, like, ever? Love happens when you least expect it, kid, and it can happen at any time.
"If I kissed you, would I get... you know... converted?" (2.2.95)
Okay, while R believes that love runs more than skin deep, Julie is more of a looks kind of girl. If R looks like an extra from The Walking Dead, she probably wouldn't be eager to swap spit. Good thing he looks like this. Yeah, not too shabby for a dead guy.
I pull Julie into me and kiss her. (2.8.178)
That's right: "kiss her" not "eat her brain." So is the moral of Warm Bodies that a guy can change?
We smile, because this is how we save the world. (3.1.62)
And they're smiling because of love and passion. Not just heterosexual, borderline necrophiliac passion, but just a general passion for people, for laughter, for life.
No one I know has any specific memories. (1.1.6)
This has an upside and a downside, we think. Upside: you wouldn't remember all the stupid stuff and regrets you had in life, like any of your awful haircuts. Downside: you wouldn't remember all the good stuff either. Is it worth it?
I eat the brain, and for about thirty seconds, I have memories. Flashes of parades, perfume, music... life. Then it fades, and I get up [...] feeling a little better. [...] A little less dead. (1.1.21)
R has to live vicariously through other people's memories of life. Because of this, he becomes a little addicted to memories. Maybe zombies don't have to eat brains to stay physically nourished, but they do if they want to be spiritually nourished.
"We have to remember everything. If we don't, by the time we grow up it'll be gone forever." (1.3.46)
Here, Julie doesn't make a distinction between good memories and bad ones. She says it's important to remember everything. But why? Well, in her universe, the alternative is being a zombie who remembers nothing, so we guess we'll grant her point.
"Just remember [your mom] [...] As much as you can, as long as you can. That's how she comes back. We make her live. Not some ridiculous curse." (1.4.20)
Again we have the memories = life metaphor. Perry's dad tells Perry that he can keep his mother alive through his memories. But now that Perry and his dad are dead, who will remember her? Is she gone forever?
"All the shitty stuff people do to themselves... it can all be the same thing, you know? Just a way to drown out your own voice. To kill your memories without having to kill yourself." (1.7.60)
Even though Julie said earlier that it's important to remember everything, it doesn't mean she actually practices what she preaches. She turns to drugs and self-harm to forget things.
As residual life energy fades from the brain, the useless clutter is first to go. The movie quotes, the radio jingles, the celebrity gossip and political slogans, they all melt away. (1.7.74)
Basically, all the Shmoopy parts go first. Ugh, death sounds like a real drag. And we're going to make the argument that none of this stuff is useless clutter, thank you very much.
"It's important to capture things, you know? [...] Everything you see, you might be seeing for the last time." (1.10.12)
Julie repeats her earlier idea about capturing everything, this time with a camera in her head. But which one's better—a photograph, that always stays the same, or memories that can change over time?
"Memories you capture on purpose are always more vivid than the ones you pick up by accident." (1.10.13)
We're not sure if this is true or not. Sometimes the memories you least expect are the ones you can't get out of your head. Which is usually why we're always lying awake at night thinking of our disastrous sixth birthday party. You know—the one with the clown?
My past is a fog, but my present is brilliant. (1.10.64)
This is a change for R. Previously everything was a fog. But maybe by his present being brilliant, when the present becomes the past he'll be able to still remember it.
I'm not ready to make Julie a souvenir. (1.10.170)
This is a creepy serial-killer kind of thing to say, but R doesn't mean it this way. He just means that he wants to keep Julie in his present, not relegate her to the past, no matter how nice the memories might be. Still, we think there are better ways to phrase it.
I can't seem to make myself care about anything to the right or left of the present, and the present isn't exactly urgent. (1.1.9)
We living folks spend so much time trying to turn our brains off—drowning them in alcohol, drugs, or repetitive smart phone games. R's life is like this all the time, and it doesn't seem that appealing anymore.
I long for exclamation marks, but I'm drowning in ellipsis. (1.7.17)
Now that R lives a relatively safe, calm, and—most importantly—boring existence, he is longing for some excitement. Passivity isn't all it's cracked up to be.
Some of us stay funeral-parlor fresh for years ,and some of us wither to bones in a matter of months. [...] Maybe our bodies follow our minds' leads. Some resign themselves easily, others hold on hard. (1.7.28)
It seems here that R is saying the people who are like "whatever" and resign themselves to the laissez-faire way of death are the ones who decay first. On the flip side, the people who hang on tenaciously to the exciting parts of life don't crumble as fast as the others. So maybe that explains why he's still so good looking.
"We don't... think... new things." (1.7.33)
This probably sounds really appealing to a lot of people. Thinking is pretty hard, after all. However, as we learned from the previous quote, the people who don't think new things in life are the ones who crumble the fasted. Learning keeps us thriving.
"[Perry] was this brilliant, fiery kid, so weird and funny and full of dreams, and then... just quit all his plans. [...] Everything that made him who he was just started rotting." (1.7.56)
Julie's word choice of "rotting" is key here. It's almost like Perry became a zombie before he died. We have a feeling that if he did become a zombie, he would be one of the extra crumbly ones. Instant Boney.
"Since the big picture is gone and the people who drew it are all dead, what are we supposed to do now? No one knows, so we do nothing." (1.8.52)
It seems that the Living don't know how to do anything without guidance, so they're just going along with the flow. Does no one know how to think for themselves?
I'm growing tired of easy things. (1.10.153)
That's the thing about easy: it's relaxing at first, but then it becomes boring. Warm Bodies shows us that too much "easy" can actually be deadly. That's why our vacations are never permanent.
"No one in this place really looks at each other anyway." (2.3.87)
Nora's description of the stadium shows us that no one is actively trying to maintain a community. They're passively retreating into their own little worlds. Sounds a lot like R's airport community of zombies, just with more attached body parts.
"I'm wanting it. I'm making myself care." (2.5.90)
R has to make himself care. Do you think caring requires effort? Is passivity a default setting that we have to fight against?
"The world is over. It can't be cured, it can't be salvaged, it can't be saved." (2.7.179)
This is the attitude that's destroying the planet and, in Warm Bodies, destroying humanity itself. These are the people who think there's nothing we can do to stop global warming/social injustice/economic inequality/take your pick, so we just keep trundling toward the apocalypse, slowly and surely. Like a steamroller.
When I was alive [...] I remember effort. I remember targets and deadlines, goals and ambitions. I remember being purposeful, always everywhere all the time. (1.1.29)
Oh yeah? Well, when we were alive, we had to snowshoe to school. Blindfolded. In a sandstorm. Uphill three ways! In all seriousness folks, what R is saying here is that life is about movement, death is static, unchanging. R's movement is done on escalators and conveyor belts—machinery that does the movement for him. Death seems pretty easy compared to life, but is easy a good thing?
Sex, once a law as undisputed as gravity, has been disproved. [...] Sometimes it's a relief. [...] But our loss of this, the most basic of all human passions, might sum up our loss of everything else. (1.3.20-1.3.21)
R's race, for lack of a better word, manages to exist and sustain itself without sexual reproduction. But the lack of sex is a result of their general lack of connectedness, and according to Julie, that may have just been the cause of the zombie outbreak in the first place. So, new rule: if you're in a slasher movie, don't have sex. If you're in a zombie movie, have sex. It just might save the day.
The new hunger demands sacrifice. It demands human suffering as the price for our pleasures, meager and cheap as they are. (1.5.29)
All creatures have to eat other creatures to survive. All the zombie apocalypse has done is knocked humans off their top perch on the food chain. For any other creature in existence, not much has changed.
She is Living and I'm Dead, but I like to believe we're both human. (1.6.5)
R explores what it means to be human. He and the zombies still have a head, two arms, two legs (well, most of them do). They just like to eat people. So does this mean they're not human?
"Staying alive is pretty fucking important... but there's got to be something beyond that, right?" (1.8.52)
Julie's making an argument that staying alive isn't the same as living. What the Living have done is lock themselves away from any danger and, as a result, any danger and experience. This is existing, not living.
I've never thought of these other creatures walking around me as people. Human, yes, but not people. (1.8.78)
So R doesn't think that people shambling around mindless, unable to put two words together coherently, are people? What else do you call a bunch of students stuck in an 8 a.m. class?
[M] gives me that look I'm finding on the faces of all the Dead. That mixture of confusion, fear, and faint anticipation. (1.8.140)
That mixture of confusion, fear, and faint anticipation that the zombies are starting to get on their faces? That's the look of the Living.
It frustrates and fascinates me that we'll never know for sure, that despite the best efforts of historians and scientists and poets, there are some things we'll just never know. (2.1.2)
This lack of knowing is just part of existence. We can never know everything, especially is someone's story is never told. And even if it is told, sometimes it gets lost. We just have to learn to deal with never knowing.
"There's no benchmark for how life's 'supposed' to happen, Perry." (2.1.57)
Perry, and R by association, don't exactly take Perry's dad's advice to heart. By trying to infect everyone with love and cure death, they are dictating how they think life is supposed to happen.
"What is a city and why do we keep building them? Take away the culture, the commerce, the business and pleasure; is there anything left?" (2.4.3)
Um, since the whole point of the city is the culture and the commerce, why would you take those away in the first place? Where would you find them?
I stare hard at the tag. [...] The letters spin and reverse in my vision; I can't hold them down. As always, they elude me, just a series of meaningless lines and blots. (1.1.34)
Sadly, it seems that being Dead means forgetting how to read. No wonder they just stand around and groan all day. We'd do the same thing.
"No one writes, no one reads, no one really even talks." (1.8.46)
The world of the Living sounds a lot like the world of the Dead. And not James Joyce's "The Dead" either. That might be worse.
"I like writing."
"Really? Do people still do that? [...] I mean is there still like... a book industry?"
I shrug. "Well... no. Not really. Good point, Nora." (1.10.132-1.10.136)
No, that's a horrible point, Nora. Writing is about more than publishing and selling and making money. It's about expression and sharing ideas. Sheesh.
"Give me a piece of your brain, Perry. I want to taste it." (1.10.143)
Looking past the irony of this statement, we can see that a book is kind of a little piece of an author's brain. When you read it, you're tasting a bit of what's in there.
We taught them how to shoot, how to pour concrete, how to kill and how to survive, and if they made it that far, if they mastered those skills and had time to spare, then we taught them how to read and write, to reason and relate and understand the world. (2.2.14)
These are important survival skills, yes. After all, you're not going to kill a zombie by reading to it. (Unless you're reading Dan Brown aloud or something.) But by not making time for reading and writing, they're losing touch with literature and the past, thereby just adding to the decay of society.
As I lie there, letting my mind rise into those imaginary heavens, two of the stars begging to change. They rotate, and focus, and their shapes clarify. They become... letters. (2.2.189)
R isn't reading the stars here, he's reading the writing on Julie's ceiling. But these words are like constellations to him. And as though R is an explorer, constellations are meant to guide, just like words.
"Writing isn't letters on paper. It's communication. It's memory." (2.3.33)
In this quote we get three themes for the price of one. And since we know that memory and communication are pretty important in this book (zombies don't really have either) we now see how important writing is in this world.
"The world that birthed [Gilgamesh] is long gone, all its people are dead, but it continues to touch the present and future because someone cared enough about that world to keep it. To put it in words. To remember it." (2.3.39)
Perry's dad thought of Perry's mom in a similar way—keeping her alive through memories. Writing is a way to make those memories permanent. Well, more permanent, as long as there's no a massive fire or hard drive crash, or something that wipes out all the books in the world.
I savor the sensation of those little symbols clicking together and bursting like soap bubbles of sound. (2.7.25)
Here's a handy little metaphor equating reading with music. To Julie, music is life. To R, reading is life. We think the world needs a little bit of both.
I've brought only two provisions: a box of pad thai and Perry's book. Thick. Ancient. Bound in leather. I open it to the middle. An unfinished sentence in some language I've never seen, and beyond it, nothing. An epic tome of empty pages, blank white and waiting. (2.7.98)
This book R sees in his dream might as well be The Complete, Unabridged Story of Humanity. It's only written up to a point, this one, and R sees that he has the power to decide what gets written on its future pages.
I'm sorry I can't properly introduce myself, but I don't have a name anymore. (1.1.1)
It's hard to describe yourself if you don't have a name. If someone asked who you were, how would you describe yourself without using your name? I'm this guy, here. No, not him. Me—with the thumbs!
I am Perry Kelvin, a nine-year-old boy growing up in rural nowhere. (1.2.26)
Talk about an identity crisis. R starts to absorb Perry's memories and, in a way, starts to become him. By the end of the book, it's hard to tell the two apart. Which is creepy if you think about it for too long, so let's not.
Who are you? Let the memories dissolve. [...]
You're you again. You're no one. (1.2.43-1.2.44)
We can see why R gets so absorbed into Perry's memories (or the other way around, perhaps). As a zombie, he has no self-esteem or identity. He sees himself as no one.
"What are you?" [Julie] whispers. (1.3.17)
R responds, "I'm Sookie Stackhouse, and I'm a waitress." Okay, not really. He just groans and walks away, but if he had seen True Blood he totally would have made that joke with her. Jokes are a good way to deflect that you have NO CLUE who you really are.
Bodies are just meat. [...] The part of her that matters most... we get to keep that. (1.4.22)
This is a good way to look at identity. You are your personality, not the shell it resides in. After you die, it's your identity that will live on in the memories of others.
"I'm just... still alive. A wreck in progress." (1.7.60)
Julie identifying herself as a "wreck in progress" shows us that she knows she's made mistakes in the past and she's going to continue to make them. It may not be ideal, but at least she's realistic.
The person I am now, this fumbling, stumbling supplicant... was I built on the foundations of my old life, or did I rise from the grave a blank slate? How much of me is inherited, and how much is my own creation? (1.7.70)
Although this is R talking here, we could apply this philosophical conundrum to the lives of the Living. How much of our identity is predetermined by our parents, our genes, and the world we're born into? And how much do we make for ourselves?
Here we are. Trapped in the gap between the cradle and the grave, no longer able to fit in either. (2.8.36)
Is all of humanity having a mid-life crisis? Where have we been and where do we go from here?
Who is she, this girl? What is she? She is everything. Her body contains the history of life, remembered in chemicals. Her mind contains the history of the universe. (2.8.175)
Julie's not exactly special. The same could be said for almost any living person. We're all made of the same stuff, when it comes down to it. All that weight on our shoulders. No wonder so many of us have an identity crisis at some point.