In a previous post of mine, I delved into the fact that Mark Spitz is not the real name of the main character in the novel Zone One, but that he allows others to call him that. He was called that, because he is superb at killing skels, and would rather go swimming through a sea of the un-dead rather than cross the water to the side of safety. The idea came to me when I was perusing Taha’s post, accessed here about losing your identity.
Although that post talks about teeth with losing your identity, the thought came to me about another reason why Mark Spitz would allow himself to be called that in this time of chaos. Before the apocalypse happened, and the world was separated into these domes of safety, Mark Spitz was a kid who wasn’t bad, but he wasn’t the shining star pupil in the classroom. “His aptitude lay in the well-executed muddle, never shining, never flunking, but gathering himself for what it took to progress past life’s next random obstacle.”(Whitehead 11).
In his past life he wasn’t anyone of importance and just did the bare minimum, but in this one, he has a purpose where he is admired by those around him, and is appreciated for his skill of killing. What if another reason that he allows himself to be called Mark Spitz is because he wants to forget his non-achiever self, and remain in the persona he is in right now? By going by someone else, he is essentially erasing his lazy life away and becoming this high-achiever, and being repeatedly called Mark Spitz is a reminder of the person he is now and not to regress back to his life of just coasting by.
Of course, when the apocalypse is over and all the skels have been eradicated it will be a new world, where he can make a new world for himself if he wants, but he doesn’t have to go back to his original self. He can become someone new, as the new world won’t need Mark Spitz, the excellent Skel killer in a world where skels are a thing of the past.