‘Drink My Blood’ by Richard Matheson: Short Story Analysis
This short story about a peculiar boy called Jules is a testimony to the fact that Richard Matheson wrote some of the best works in paranormal and scientific fiction. His classic Vampire dystopian novel titled ‘I Am Legend’ was epic, and this short story about a boy who wants to become a vampire is another very power-packed read. I read this amazing short story for the first time in the year 2009, and it has remained fixed in my brain as one of the best vampire short stories I have ever read. ‘Drink My Blood’ as a title is as obvious as the fangs of Count Dracula’s red mouth; it’s about the urge of Jules, the anti-protagonist in this story, to want to not only become a vampire to drink blood but, indeed, to become the son of one of the infamous vampires of all time – Count Dracula.
Jules has the signs of a vampire from the time he was an infant. He had always been different and the doctor mentions that the large size of his head indicated that Jules would either be a genius or an idiot. Matheson mentions that Jules was an idiot. This is very deep as, if you read the lore of vampires from Bram Stoker’s perspective, vampires have ‘childlike brains’ where their own interests serve them and are uppermost in their mind. Bram Stoker in his own seminal work Dracula mentions this through the character of Dr. Van Helsing. Jules too, according to this logic, has a childlike mind. However, he is perverse. He is perverted, disturbed, but still intelligent to a certain extent where his own diabolical needs are concerned. One day he goes to the movies and sees the horror movie ‘Dracula’. He is so taken up by the movie that he cuts his thumb to drink his blood. He is so possessed by the movie and what he saw, identifying himself as the Count, that he steals Bram Stoker’s Dracula classic from the library and reads the whole book in one sitting. I myself read the unabridged version of Bram Stoker’s Dracula in one sitting when I was seven years old in the third-grade. I have chronicled that momentous event many times in my memoirs. The book changed my life, and in the same way changed Jules life too. I want to bring to your notice the fact that Jules saw the movie before the book. Now, we all know that all movies inspired by Bram Stoker’s tale, when Matheson was writing this short story, were anything but what the actual content of the book was like. Therefore, you see, Jules gets fixated with the sexual and sensual angle of the vampire. He wants to ‘drink girls’ blood’ and make ‘girls into vampires.’ That is not what Count Dracula is all about. Jules then reads Bram Stoker’s classic. He is impressed yet again by the places which I call:
- The Staining of Purity – when the Vampire Lucy stained the whiteness of her death robe by the blood she had lapped up.
- The Initiation – when Count Dracula makes Mina drink the blood from his wound to make her his bride.
These are some of the most sensual and very shocking parts of the Bram Stoker book. Jules is influenced by them, is perverted further by them, and goes on to dream that he wants to be a son of Count Dracula. The story is set in a modern 20th century atmosphere, but reeks of the Victorian era, which is Matheson’s purpose. Matheson is highly influenced by ‘Dracula’ and I can see that in this short story. Jules later in the tale takes a shine to a vampire bat in the zoo. He calls it the ‘Count’ and believes it is the ‘Count’. Basically, Jules was now looking to be initiated into the vampire family. He takes extraordinary pains to kidnap the vampire bat and then does something absolutely horrifying. He takes his mother’s pocketknife and hacks his throat to make the vampire bat drink his blood. There is a very sensual side to this part of the story, a kind of bestiality, as Jules tears off his shirt with abandon and seduces with his wounds for the bat to drink his blood. This part of the story is a perversion of the Passion of Christ tale. Certain elements of the Passion are present here to a great extent:
- The side of Jules torn open by metal tin can issuing life blood.
- The moment when Jules feels devoid of the Count’s presence and wants to get out of the place where he is dying of his wounds – ‘my God my God why have you forsaken me!’
- The tearing of his shirt just as Jesus Christ was stripped of his garments before he was nailed to the Cross.
The ending is somewhat a perversity of Christ’s resurrection. Jesus Christ dies for the sins of others and rises later to the Father in heaven; Jules thinking that he was going to die manages finally to meet the ‘Count’ who lifts him up and calls him ‘his son.’ Very evocative of the many times Jesus Christ in the Bible has mentioned that the Father or God would have to lift up the ‘Son’ so that sins would be forgiven. Jules, the true begotten son of Count Dracula is lifted up literally and metaphorically for his loyalty to evil. The ending is cringe worthy. The descriptions of the loss of so much blood is appallingly frightening. But that is what makes this story immensely powerful and very much a masterpiece. This story is fascinating to those who love stories about the paranormal and who are great fans of Count Dracula. One cannot really ignore the many-sided Christian angle of this story. If one looks at ‘Drink My Blood’ closely, the whole story is an absolute perversity of the story of Christ mentioned in the gospels. Even the title ‘Drink My Blood’ is one of the main sacraments that Christ kept on mentioning throughout his ministry. But to go in depth into the ‘Christ angle’ in this story would need another blog post altogether, there is so much to talk about and discuss over there. Not surprising when one remembers that Bram Stoker too in his ‘Dracula’ classic had used a lot of Christian symbology.
For me, this has always been Matheson’s most fascinating vampire story and it was a pleasure to read it again after so many years. If you are interested in more book reviews, short story analysis and author interviews, you can visit my blog insaneowl.com. If you want to buy my books, then you can visit my website at fizapathanpublishing.us or fizapathan.com. Happy reading to you this coming weekend!
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