As the civil rights movement gained steam, many Americans in the majority felt that they should be contained, i.e. separate but equal. Race was seen as a consequence of humanity much like vampirism is in the novel. "In this novel, vampirism is not a supernatural curse but a consequence of biological warfare." Matheson's commentary on this fact is clear when analyzing the character of Robert Neville.
Neville focuses on an understanding of the creatures that torment him throughout his nights of solitude. He is not a scientist, like in the movie, but performs tests of all kinds on the creatures blood and other samples to gain an understanding. Through his tests he discovers that these creatures are more human than he once thought. This same philosophy can be applied to the social climate of the times.
Matheson is clearly suggesting that, although civil right movement members represent a minority aspect of the population, they are people and deserve to be treated as such. Furthermore, if we seek to understand those who are different than us a common ground will almost always be found. Matheson challenges the reader to approach the current social climate through a scientific/observational perspective. Simply siding with the majority, who usually holds incorrect assumptions, leads to dangerous consequences. "His character parallels, in many ways, the “self-conscious but highly problematic construction of the American as a new white man.”