Altered Essay Questions

  1. 1

    What are the implications of the rift between Jost and Adelice?

    Jost wants Adelice to use her powers to help him save his daughter Sebrina. Adelice wants to have sex with Jost, but Jost resists, saying that if they do then Adelice might lose her powers and pass them on to their children. They eventually break up because of a difference in priorities. The significance of this rift indicates a deeper issue of duty and selflessness: both Adelice and Jost are fighting for themselves and for the ones they love at the same time. Yet, in order to achieve their goals, they still, contrary to common sense, take issue with one another. Adelice is looking for solace and comfort during a time in which she faces a lot of pressure (certainly this can be seen as selfish), and Jost sees Adelice as a way to save his sister (this is more explicitly made out to be selfish by Adelice). So there is an irony in their relationship: where they are supposed to be more understanding of one another, they are only attempting to further their own agenda through each other.

  2. 2

    Explain the symbolic role of the Kairos Agenda in the novel.

    The Kairos Agenda represents a large scale resistance and freedom movement of the people of Arras. It indicates that no matter how much the Guild attempts to maintain order amongst humans, there will always be an inherent dissatisfaction with the way things are. In a sense, the Guild has realized that there is no system in which everyone can be happy, and a system in which people are given the license to do what they wish will not only turn out to be unsuccessful but also more difficult to govern. In light of this, the Guild has created a system that allows its rulers to enjoy with plenty of power and wealth while keeping agents of change (i.e. the common people) in strict boundaries - and violating them would lead to dire consequences. The resistance the Kairos Agenda exhibits also indicates that no system can ever satisfy everyone, and that there is a strong chance that even if the resistance is successful there will certainly be conflict over the right thing to do.

  3. 3

    Dante is revealed to be Adelice's father. Valery turns out to have been the spy that the Guild sent to foil Adelice's plans. Kincaid turns out to be a destructive maniac. Explain the role of secrets in the novel.

    Secrets are essentially the trump cards, the main weapons that characters (and the Altered universe in general) use to achieve their goals. Secrets allowed Dante to escape to Earth (he was a Tailor) - but at a great cost: he essentially abandoned his family and left Adelice in the dark about her father for the longest time. Valery, it turns out, exploits secrets more than any other character in the novel. She uses secrets to sabotage Adelice's plans, give information to the Guild, bring Cormac and Kincaid face to face, and ultimately lead Adelice to return to the Guild. Secrets are usually items of bartering (especially in the case of the refugee who provided Guild intelligence to Dante when he arrived on Earth through the help of the Kairos Agenda).

  4. 4

    How does Adelice's uncertainty turn into resoluteness throughout the novel? What factors contributed to this change?

    Adelice is faced with many new challenges – and, more importantly, new information – as Altered progresses. She finds out that Dante is her real father, that Kincaid is both elusive and untrustworthy, and that Jost does not share the same relationship goals as she does. The fact that so many secrets are kept from her forces Adelice to make choices that she would otherwise not have to make, especially breaking off her relationship with Jost. She begins to understand that the world around her will not become less complicated and that in order for her to save Amie or Arras or Earth (or all of them) she cannot wait on people to make decisions for her, as she has been doing for much of her life. It is only through her own agency that she will be able to accomplish what she set out to do. If she wants to save her loved ones, then she has to make her own decisions, regardless of how much others disapprove of them. This line of reasoning is what lead her to leave with Cormac on Alcatraz Island.

  5. 5

    How much closer has Adelice actually come to saving humanity from the grips of the Guild by the end of the novel?

    It becomes incredibly difficult to tell what awaits Adelice as she returns to Arras with Cormac, not only because she has matured over the course of the novel, but also because her goals have changed: she no longer only wants to save her sister. She is no longer intimidated by or afraid of her duties, and finds herself confronted with bigger challenges than ever before, as her sister has pledged allegiance to Cormac. Adelice no longer is the confused girl she was at the beginning of Altered, and has realized that her ultimate weapon is not the fact that she can weave or loom time and space. Rather, her weapon is that of secrets, of information: people in her universe maintain power by virtue of the fact that their motives, their history, and their actions remain unknown to others. Adelice realizes that it is her job to find out what those secrets are, and, more importantly, how to use them against the people to whom they belong.