Shakespeare, and books more broadly, draw Adelice to Greta’s shop. Kincaid (fond of Shakespeare) and Erik quote Shakespeare’s sonnets. They also reveal a sense of what humanity used to be, and how a deeper understanding of Shakespeare’s sonnets can reveal the truth about human existence, and what can be done to save humanity from the Guild. The sonnets evoke themes that run strong through the plot: love, alteration, and power – all of which manifest in the climax on Alcatraz Island.
The hourglass saves Adelice and Jost from getting killed by Falon when they first arrive on Earth. It also reveals Dante’s paternal relationship to Adelice. Most importantly, it symbolizes the Kairos Agenda, a resistance that strives to release humanity from the grips of the Guild and Cormac.
Adelice aims to create a strong and working relationship particularly with and between Jost and Erik. But the histories of both end up clouding their better judgment, to the chagrin of Adelice. Dante also attempts wants stability, especially in light of the tumultuous nature of humanity at the moment. In fact, it may be the case that everyone but Kincaid wants stability, even Cormac (who wants to use Adelice to bring peace to an ever rebellious Arras).
Arras and Earth’s histories become evident throughout the book, as does the past of virtually all the characters and what led them to where they are. History motivates and progresses in a non-teleological fashion, because sometimes Adelice and her friends think that they have gotten to the solution (such as when they think they found the Whorl in Albert Einstein) but end up realizing that they actually took a few steps backwards (Valery led Kincaid and Cormac to Adelice). Nonetheless, the overall trajectory of events is optimistic: the ups and downs eventually end in a much better condition for Adelice. She is equipped with new skills and knowledge about how to destroy the Guild and free humanity as she leaves with Cormac.
Kincaid and Cormac are the most prominent examples of characters that want power and control. Moreover, as Adelice realizes during her confrontation with Kincaid and Cormac on Alcatraz, Kincaid wants destruction more than power. This is what leads her to believe that Kincaid is the larger threat to her, and that his lust for power is not an end in itself, but rather a means to the end of destruction. Kincaid’s personality proceeds in a non-Kantian fashion insofar that he does not care about people as ends in themselves, but only as tools to gain power (this can certainly be said about Cormac to a lesser degree). (See the “Other” section of this note for more detail on Kantian ethics.)
Altered Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Altered is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.