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 Z for Zachariah

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Posts : 380
Join date : 2010-11-29
Age : 40
Location : Cosham, Hampshire

PostSubject: Z for Zachariah   Sat Apr 02, 2011 10:07 am

I read this book about 15 years ago and I thought it was fantastic but haunting. I feel that it is still very current for today's topics.

Z for Zachariah is a novel by Robert C. O'Brien which was published posthumously in 1973. He died when writing the last chapter, so his family finished the book for him. It is written from the first person perspective of a sixteen-year-old girl named Ann Burden, who survives a nuclear war in a small American town. The town's location is in a geographically distinct and remote valley that shelters it from the nuclear fallout. The book takes the form of a diary kept by Ann as she recounts the events that followed the war.

Z for Zachariah won an Edgar Award in the juvenile category in 1976. Z for Zachariah was adapted by the BBC as part of its Play for Today series and screened on 28 February 1984. The setting was changed from America to Wales.

Plot summary
Ann Burden has lived alone in a small town in a valley in the eastern United States for over a year following a nuclear war which appears to have rendered all land outside the valley contaminated and uninhabitable because it is all radioactive. Exactly how the valley escaped contamination is unclear, though Ann at one point recounts people saying that the valley "has its own weather." She thinks that she is the only one left in the world. One day, however, she observes a stranger coming into the valley. He is dressed in a plastic Radiation Protection Suit and is carrying a cart covered with the same material, and Anne watches him nervously while hiding out in a cave. Using a Geiger counter, the man determines that the valley is uncontaminated, and in his joy goes and bathes in a stream which, unbeknown to him, is carrying contaminated and radioactive water from the outside. He soon succumbs to high fever, and Ann decides to go and help him. The man, who is delirious, calls Ann "Edward" when he first sees her.

When he is a little better, the man introduces himself as John R. Loomis (though Ann prefers to call him Mr. Loomis; this is how she refers to him throughout the book), a plastics scientist who helped design the radiation-resistant material used to make the suit and cart cover. He was in his underground lab when the war began, and after the contamination, ventured out in the suit with supplies in his cart to try and find survivors, and he came across the valley. When Ann asks him who Edward was, however, he refuses to talk about it. The radiation sickness soon overtakes him and he falls into a coma, during which Ann takes care of him. He sometimes talks in his sleep, however, and during one of his dreams in which he does such, Ann learns that Edward was a lab colleague of his who wanted to take the suit to go and search for his family. Loomis didn't want this, as he wasn't sure if Edward would bring the suit back, and they had a fight in which Loomis murdered Edward. Nevertheless, Ann continues to take care of him.

When he recovers, things are well for a while and they make plans on how they will cultivate the valley and survive onward. But soon, Loomis starts to act very strangely. He gets angry and yells at her when she tells him how she prayed for him to get better, and when she asks to borrow the suit to journey to a neighboring town to borrow novels for her to read. Her initial, vague romantic ideas for the future fade quickly under his more calculated procreational and sexual interest. He watches Ann possessively. Then one night Loomis comes into her room, thinking she is asleep, and attempts to rape her. Ann escapes and is forced to flee. At first she thinks they can come to some arrangement where she works to keep them both fed and he lets her live elsewhere in the valley. But soon it becomes clear he wants her back. The two play cat-and-mouse around the valley, with Loomis ruthlessly trying to find Ann by using her family's dog, Faro, to track her. Loomis locks the store and hides the keys to it and the tractor, forcing Ann to come back or starve, and shoots her in the leg (in an attempt to catch her).

In her plan to escape, Ann decides she must set a trap for Faro. She realizes she must leave the valley. She steals the protection suit and the cart, but decides to talk with Loomis one last time before she leaves for good. Ann tells Loomis that if he shoots her, as he did Edward, then he would truly be alone for all time. He points her in the direction out of the valley where he had seen birds circling, thus offering hope both that the world has not been totally destroyed and that his character is redeemable. It is clear through her writing that after all that has occurred, Ann still has sympathy towards Loomis and is certainly unwilling to kill him.


Love & Light

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Administrator /co-founder /forum topics researcher

Posts : 6808
Join date : 2010-10-30

PostSubject: Re: Z for Zachariah   Sat Apr 02, 2011 1:07 pm

I just watched all of that , I really enjoyed it , thanks for posting :clap:

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