Study Guide

Warm Bodies Literature and Writing

By Isaac Marion

Literature and Writing

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.

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