Study Guide

Where Things Come Back Zombies

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Cullen Witter has a healthy (or unhealthy, depending how you look at it) obsession with zombies and pretending that his everyday life involves the undead staggering around, wreaking havoc. His brain shifts into this mode on the regular because when Cullen thinks of everyone as zombies… well, it makes right and wrong much simpler to sort out. He tells us:

Here's the thing about zombies: They are supposed to be killed. You just have to do it. Humans are obligated to kill zombies, just as zombies have an obligation to seek out humans and feast on their flesh. (1.48)

Ah, the simplicity of the zombie-fighting lifestyle. You hardly have to make any decisions; you just kill off all the zombies. It's a very straightforward system—and as a system, we can see it as a symbol for religion. Also adding to the idea that zombies are a metaphor for religion? For Cullen, they’re tied up in sorting out right from wrong. For the umpteenth time in this book, then, faith is on the table.

Unlike every other instance of faith in the book, though, (for an example, check out Mrs. Witter's or Benton Sage's analysis in the "Characters" section) Cullen's never gets tested. This isn't a zombie book, so his belief in the simplicity of a world filled with the undead never has the chance to get proven or disproven. He might think he'd have purpose in such a world, but he really has no clue. The undead—like the Lazarus bird—never come to fruition; in this way, Cullen just might have a little more in common with Barling than he'd like to think.

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