Not only do we tell stories, we also live them.
We know who we are because of our lived stories.
Narrative identity is a person’s internal and developing life story. We construct a past and inegrate it with an imagined future in order to give our life some degree of unity and purpose.
The idea here is that narrative provided the framework by which we know ourselves in relation to the world and to others in that world.
A lot of things have happened to us in our lives, but we don’t remember everything. Like a novelist selects particular events form the plot, so too do we recall, and reshape, particular events of our past. Like the novel is shaped by the events the author chooses to include, we are shaped by the events we remember, sometimes unconsciously. Together these form our personal story. It’s this personal story that makes us a unique individual.
Another way our identity is like a story is that it involves actions and those who enact them. Interestingly, just as in a story, the plot points and actions that consitute our lives are selected and shaped to reinforce a certain theme. Just as in all stories, the themes around which our identity is constituted is related to what we see as the purpose of our life. This orientation is defined by one’s ethical commitments.
Zombies are people without stories. Zombies do not tell stories, because they do not speak.
But they don’t live stories either. They have no memories so they have no past. They have no imagined future because they have no imagination. They have no understanding of their purpose.
They became a zombie when they were bitten or died, their committment to consume living flesh is not an ethical one. They will ceast to be, when the crowbar penetrates their brainstem.