Intertextuality and Culture Inquiry Paper

In the novel “I am Legend” Robert Neville seemingly lives in this post-apocalyptic world in the city of New York. With almost certainty, Neville believes that he is one of the few people left on the planet with almost 99% of the population either dead or mutated into a vampire. He lives as a depressed man, isolated around loneliness making his sole purpose revolve around finding a cure for this virus which has almost destroyed the future for humanity. In a similar perception, we take a look at the movie “Cast Away”.

The plot of the movie is about a man named Chuch Noland, who is the sole survivor of a plane crash and ends up on an island stranded with no way off.

The whole movie is centered around how he uses in survivor skills to continue his life and ultimately wait until rescue comes to save him. Unfortunately, four years pass and he now looks like what could be closely resembled towards a caveman.

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He never forgets his girlfriend and soon to be fiance and dreams about the day he will be able to return to her but has thoughts that she most likely has already moved on due to the fact that she probably believes that he is dead after being missing for all these years. The movie “Cast Away” mirrors the same prosperity and courage that our main character has in “I am Legend”. Both in a situation where their well-being and futures are at risk, I will be talking about my opinions about the reasons why they both continue to fight for their lives and refuse to give up.

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Though the novel version of I Am Legend is better than the motion picture because the information slowly leaks out about Neville’s past, present, and specifics about the vampires, I am going to be using the film version of ‘I Am Legend’ and talk about the importance of companionship because it does a better representation of the raw emotion Robert develops for his dog, Samantha. Robert is confused about his faith in God due to the situations and hardships he had to face. When you are the last of the species reaching out for help, looking for someone that does not live a nocturnal existence, you need to have faith in God. Robert has sent out daily radio messages, desperate to find any other survivor who might be out there. Characters usually depend on one another because it helps to define their true character in the end.

Robert Neville who is unable to stop the spread of the horrifying virus that is fatal, incurable, and man-made, yet, for three years, Robert continues to obtain books and other research materials to discover the cure of the disease which is a strain of bacteria capable of infecting both deceased and living hosts, human or animal. Samantha serves an essential job for Neville in the film since he is totally confined from humankind, and he has no genuine individual or conscious being for him to connect with. To an incredible degree, this issue in Roberts life is illuminated in the light of Sam’s presence. Neville treats her like he would a child or like the child, he lost due to the outbreak. He showers her, runs the treadmill with her, and spends for all intents and purposes all aspects of his day with her.

When eating at the kitchen table, he says to her, ‘Eat your vegetables, don’t just move them around!’ Similarly, he lays down with her and toward the beginning of the day asks how she sleeps. When driving, he generally makes her ride in the front traveler seat of the vehicle, looking over the city with him. In one example, when he finds it is his birthday, and he talks to her as if she could communicate back, saying, ‘if you’re planning a party for my birthday, tell me now. I don’t like surprises.’ All of these examples uncover how Neville considers Sam to be substantially more than only a German Sheperd dog, he considers her to be a piece of him and his family.

We learn while Robert Neville is making his daily radio message, he talks about the characteristics of the virus and mentions how, he and a very few people around the planet are immune to the virus but yet could still be killed by the mutated vampires and also that K9’s are immune to the airborne strain of the virus but could still acquire the plague through physical contact with the infected blood. Neville also has other habits that guide the remaining shred of sanity in his life. He is seen repeatedly watching old news footage of life before the plague hit. He does this not only in order to entertain himself during the long empty day he has to live, but also to keep himself sane and remember what life used to be like. Similar to the example of the hope that Samantha gives Neville’s psychological need for human interaction, we see when he goes to the video store several mannequins set up strategically throughout the store, looking at movies or running the cash register.

This was Neville’s way to interact with the mannequins as if they were real people and even has names for them. This creepy and dark desperation for human companionship, let alone a simple conversation, takes a whole new height of loneliness as we see Robert trying to flirt with a female mannequin. I believe this is a symbol for his sexual frustration which puts him further down his depression as he knowingly realizes its a waste of time and energy to even try and fake human emotion and interaction.

This is important for us to visualize because it helps us to understand how Samantha is the only real driver for Robert Neville to find a cure. With no people around with him and seemingly no reason for him to do all this work and research to create a cure or vaccine for, we ultimately can understand through the love and through the way Neville talks to Samantha about how she can still get infected that, she, is the main reason Robert continues to live his life. With very little meaning for his life, Robert finds his sole purpose to create the cure, just for Samantha. A defining moment in the film happens when Neville is compelled to kill Samantha since she ended up infected with the infection while trying to protect Neville. In the moment of hearing her last breaths, we see her limp body tumble off Neville’s lap, and for a minute we are shooked by the emotional damage he must be going through and uncovering that he is currently genuinely alone.

As referenced before, it is now that Neville loses all faith in God and confidence in his life. When he had Sam, he at least had a glimmer of hope in finding a cure. He had a living individual which responded to him and related to him. In the end, Neville, resorting to the fact that he will never find a cure and anyone to replace Samantha, he willingly drives at night and runs into the infected mutants which in his mind is his final battle with the vampires, going with the intent to kill as much as he can before he accepts the fate of humanity is lost to the virus and almost gets himself killed because he believes that without Samantha, there’s no reason to continue to live on. As Neville is about to be killed by the mutant leader but is rescued at the last second by a human survivor of the plague, Anna and her son Ethan.

At the beginning of the essay, I was talking about how characters usually, depend on one another because it helps to define their true character in the end. I bring this up again because the next day when Neville awakes from his sleep, he sees that he was badly hurt but Anna, had bandaged him up and closed all his wounds. But, little did she know that because she brought him back to his house, it then allowed all the vamipres that night to be able to trace them down to where he was living and conducting all his virus research. Stuck in the basement with Anna and Ethan, where he was close to creating a final cure. Robert Neville gives Anna his blood and says that the cure is in the blood of the immune and that she needs to continue his legend for striving towards finding a colony and delivering his samples to them (Though we are unsure if this colony actually exists). Once Neville had put Anna and Ethan in a protected vault, he promises them that he will get them out by using his life as a sacrifice. He grabs a grenade from his cabinet and blows himself up along with all the vampires and the alpha male leader.

This represents Roberts love and compassion for his fellow kind, and how he had long been trying to survive to see the day where he knew he wasn’t the only one alive. With the hard decisions he had to make, he selflessly took his own life because Anna had sparked new hope in his life for the salvation of humanity. If we look at a different example like the movie “Cast Away”, we see reflected characteristics between Chuck Noland and Rober Neville. First of all, he is on a deserted island. He has to find food, water, and shelter solely to survive. He is away from his fiance and everything he knows from his normal life. The movie does a good job of representing the message of being cast away from all aspects of society just as Neville was in his apocalyptic world. Through the decision to have no dialogue for over half the movie reiterates the loneliness felt by the character.

The film acknowledges the limitations and emotional damage of having no companionship. We always need some sort of social acceptance and interactions to continue to be sane. While struggling to make a fire, Chuck cuts his hand and in frustration, he grabs the closest thing to him, which happens to be a volleyball he had opened earlier in the movie which had washed up on the shore from the plane crash, and he throws it against a rock. Once he sees a perfect bloody handprint on the volleyball, he gets an idea to scratch off some of the blood to make a smiley face in the middle of his handprint. This is how we meet Chuck’s new and only friend, Wilson. As I talk more about “Wilson” and what he means to Chuck, keep in mind the same characteristic Neville had for Samantha and the feelings and underlying importance he had for her in the final years of his life. Wilson is, of course, mute but as time passes chucks interaction with the ball includes what appears to be actual exchanges with pauses in between their conversations as if Wilson is actually responding to Nolan.

This is a striking moment because it provides significance to this moment as well after four years together with the volleyball serving as a vocal opposition to him, essentially being the voice in his head that offers critical assessment and alternative options. Nolan has finally got a workable plan to escape the island after much debating and even some arguing builds a raft and stuck it with enough provision to hopefully last until they reach a shipping lane and can be spotted at sea. Time passes while he is on his raft and one day he encounters a swell and harsh weather that badly damages the raft eventually stripping it of its makeshift plastic sale. The loosely bound together raft barely stays together and the next morning Chuck who is passed out from exhaustion, malnutrition, and dehydration is awakened by the unseen whale’s blowhole spray and Chucky immediately notices that Wilson who has been tied to a post he made, is now missing.

In desperation, check begins calling out to the volleyballs name screaming Wilson and in the calm waters, he sees Wilson not far from the raft. In a panic he dives into the water but the current is so strong it separates them fast and Chuck grabs a line of wooden tree bark holding onto a rope to secure himself to the raft as he attempts to swim to Wilson, but it’s too late. The water pulls Wilson, away and Chuck is forced to make a choice, either he lets go of the rope attached to his raft, or he lets Wilson go and stay safe on the raft. For a moment Chuck is suspended between the two and it is here where we attach a the symbolism to what Wilson really is and what he meant to Chuck, also this scene helps us understand why Wilson was so crucial. We see that as soon as he gets himself back onto his raft, he stares at Wilson till he is no longer in sight.

This is perceived in the same way as if Chuck really lost a living friend in his head. The next couple of days we see Chuck on the verge of dying and being consumed by the vast mass of waters he has traveled. He almost loses his hope in finding a way back to return to his home when all the sudden we have a close up on Chuck one morning and we hear a loud cargo ship wake, Chuck, up and shooked out of his mind, does all he can to catch the ships attention. In conclusion, I Am Legend and Cast-Away offers a much deeper meaning behind humanity’s need for interaction with each other. First of all, we are social beings and being able to communicate with each other is an important factor we overlook throughout our days.

When we take that away and become isolated, we cannot help but look for ways to compensate for the absence as Neville did through several ways in the film from socializing with his pet dog Samantha, to befriending inanimate objects like the mannequins just as Chuck Noland did for “Wilson” the volleyball. Secondly, the two stories raise the complex theological discussion of human free will, a discussion which can be analyzed through the actions and choices of our two characters. Both films end up being deep emotional thrill rides that have strong philosophical aspects that are relevant for all in our present interactive society.

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Intertextuality and Culture Inquiry Paper. (2022, Apr 09). Retrieved from

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