“The scene is familiar, but I’m not the girl Cormac used to order around anymore.”
As the quote indicates, Adelice is no longer the same girl that she was the last time she was in Arras. She is equipped with new knowledge and skills that will allow her to be more cunning, confrontational, bold, confident, and resilient than ever before. She is determined to take down the Guild, and she has a plan, expressing more certainty and positivity than she ever previously had.
“She doesn’t linger to answer any of the million questions I have. The estate is under attack? Has the Guild come after me? Do Kincaid’s men know I am gone? And then one question stops me cold:
What will happen to my mother?”
Adelice continues to deny the fact that the Remnant being held at Kincaid's estate is no longer her mother - a fact to which the Remnant itself admits. Her refusal speaks to the ever-growing resistant behavior and oppositional attitude that she developed on Earth. This refusal also indicates her inability to let go of the past - a sentiment that plagues others as well, especially Kincaid, who attempts to relive his past through plays of Shakespeare and the collection of human artifices.
"Yes." Dante's voice breaks the moment. "What else can you do, Erik?"
This quote perfectly captures Dante's attempts throughout the story to not only make up for the time he has lost with Adelice (and his abandoning of her mother while pregnant) but also his rather unsuccessful attempts at being a fatherly figure. Adelice does not take well to the tone that Dante uses with Erik, and criticizes him for being hypocritical and secretive - just like everyone else. This quote also illustrates the extent to which the well being of those around Adelice is in tension with her own desires.
And then, without a smile, he says quietly, "Dust to dust."
Kincaid's destructive tendencies are somewhat subtle before the climax of the story at Alcatraz, covered by his interest in history, his quasi-psychopathic behavior, and, above all, his opposition to Cormac and the Guild. But as Adelice comes to realize, Kincaid is probably the most dangerous of all of her enemies: he does not want control or power, but rather destruction. This quote succinctly captures his motive and his desire, because they are essentially one and the same.
"Dante said Tailors are everywhere in Arras. Medics. Guards. Doctors," I tell them. "Did either of you know about this?"
Adelice's inquisitiveness reveals the extent to which the Guild has been successful in hiding their intentions and operations. Even as a Spinster and a member of the Coventry, she was completely unaware of the Tailor population. This shows that the Guild attempts to control the population through an information imbalance, and that there is a powerful structure in place to ensure that the agendum of the Guild sees itself through. That Tailors are killed also indicates the failures of the Guild and its inability to provide a stable and safe life for others: in order to stay in power the officials kill and destroy the families of the Tailors, but do not do the people any good by doing so.
I only know one thing: I'm no safer here than I was in Arras.
Cormac has made clear that he is still aware of Adelice's presence and movement on Earth. He is still pulling the strings, and as Dante tells Adelice about her past while they are making their way to Kincaid's estate, she begins to question the secrets that everyone has kept from her. The big theme here is deception: when did Adelice's parents dig the tunnels in her home for escape, and why did they not tell her? She sees darkness everywhere on Earth, and sees herself trapped in it. The darkness also represents secrets and deception: they both engulf her and distort her understanding of her goals and where is going.
He doesn't want you, the voice in my head mocks me. You're not her. You aren't his perfect wife.
The explicit and specific prose and scene in which Jost and Adelice make love indicates how much they want to be with one another. However, the issue arises as soon as they are about to climax, in which Jost always hesitates and stops – relaying his belief that his priorities are different from those of Adelice.
Whatever he offers his actors must be substantial for them to endure so much pain. It can't be a simple process to have your entire face altered to look like someone else.
Kincaid’s play is as horrifying as it is realistic. Adelice comes to realize that Kincaid is attempting to bring back the past, at the cost of altering and inflicting pain upon his volunteer actors. It speaks to Kincaid’s destructive tendencies and quasi-psychopathic behavior.
We both spend more time laughing than dancing, but I feel light, like I'm full of air. Like I don't have a care in the world. For a moment, I am happy.
Adelice and Erik are dancing at the bar in the Icebox, and in an almost complete break of the series of progressions in the main plot, Adelice experiences a kind of ecstasy like no other. She feels stable, normal, content, and achieved: it shows that in life, the smaller things are the ones that can lead to happiness. Cormac and Kincaid may have power and influence, but their lives, as juxtaposed to this one moment, have nothing comparable to what Adelice experiences in the bar. They, in spite of all that they have, are unable to be happy – they are always worried and planning to take out their enemies.
"We were prepped to look for you," she admits with a wicked smile. "We were shown pictures, told about who you were and that we must retrieve you at any cost."
There is the insinuation here that Adelice is never alone and yet always alone. Cormac knows where she is, and how to get to her. But at the same time, Adelice is helpless to do anything effective. She cannot and does not know how to counteract Cormac's workings, help save humanity with her powers, and keep her relationships strong and stable all at the same time. She is immature in this regard, but the challenge put in front of her by Cormac also reveals to the reader that she is capable of taking on those challenges.
Altered Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Altered is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.