“We relinquished our freedom that day, and we were more than happy to see it go. From that moment on we lived in true freedom, the freedom to point to someone else and say ‘They told me to do it! It’s their fault, not mine.’ The freedom, God help us, to say ‘I was only following orders.’” (Brook 83)
In this passage, Zhuganova describes the horrific incarnation of democracy she experiences after joining a riot on her military base. This passage reflects novel’s attempt to define freedom and argues that true freedom is not the ability to make choices. Rather, it is the freedom from responsibility and the consequences that result from such responsibility. “True freedom” is a key phrase used by Zhuganova within the passage. The use of true freedom implies that there is a freedom that is not truly free. Because Zhuganova essentially defines true freedom as lack of responsibility, her “false freedom” can be described as the ability to make choices and take responsibility.
The characterization of Zhuganova and her use of conversational language emphasizes her struggle with freedom in the passage. The conversational tone adds to Zhuganova’s humanity, allowing her sympathy from the reader. In the last line, she uses the phrase “God help us” to emphasize her willingness to “relinquish [her] freedom.” This choice of words highlights her inability to truly be free while choosing her own actions. Even when she is trying to free herself from responsibility, she must call out for assistance from an entity who can truly execute free will.
Zhuganova’s experience is just one of the many unintended consequences of the zombie war and her characterization within the passage and the circumstances in which she contributes to the death of one of her fellow soldiers contributes to the passage’s argument. Despite her experience being the result of the desire for freedom and the willingness take responsibility, it can be argued that, as a part of the mob, she did not have freedom. Her participation in “mob mentality” further supports her argument of not truly having freedom when being burdened by responsibility.