If you took part in the ceremony of the Divide, would you choose to go to the Above or stay in the Below? Explain your answer.
I would choose to stay Below. Although I understand the appeal of adventure and freedom in the Above, I believe that one can still have these things in Atlantia if one is resourceful enough. Additionally, Atlantia needs talented citizens to remain Below to ensure that life continues there. Last but not least, I would not want to be exposed to the pollution and danger in the Above.
Why do you think the rules say that people who choose the Above must leave without saying goodbye to friends and family? What purpose does this rule accomplish?
I think that this rule allows people to break away from their families completely, without giving them any chance to regret their decision after it is made. Most people will have discussed their choice with their families and friends beforehand, so there should be no need for last-minute goodbyes. Having one last meeting with friends and family will only make it harder on the person who goes to the Above, where they will never be able to see these loved ones ever again.
At the beginning of the novel, do you agree with Rio's suspicion that Maire may have murdered her mother Oceana? Why or why not?
I do not agree with Rio's suspicion that Maire murdered Oceana. I believe that Maire would not hurt her own sister, regardless of how bad her relationship with Oceana had become. Secondly, Rio has no evidence that Maire killed Oceana, except for her own dislike of her mysterious aunt. Additionally, if Maire had killed Oceana, she is wily enough to ensure that Oceana's body would be found far from her apartment (the discovery of Oceana's body at Maire's doorstep is Rio's only piece of hard evidence implicating her aunt in her mother's death). Lastly, Maire would not benefit from Oceana's death, and she is unlikely to take any action that does not benefit her directly.
Rio has four options to reach the surface: using a Council transport, going through the floodgates with an oxygen tank, sneaking out through the ocean door in the mining bay, and accepting Maire's help. Which option do you think she should choose?
I think Rio's best option is to hijack a Council transport. With her siren powers, she would be able to convince the guards to let her through and onto the transport. She would be at the surface before anyone realizes she was missing, unless security at the transports is even more stringent than the book depicts. Hijacking a transport would also be the safest option, since these transports are designed to make the perilous journey to the Above. Air tanks may not be pressurized to withstand the journey, and swimming to the Above may prove impossible given the intense pressure. Only the transports are proven to make the journey safely.
There are numerous hints to indicate that the government of Atlantia might be quite oppressive and exploitative of its people. What are some of the narrative details that hint at this?
It would make sense that the government of Atlantia is somewhat oppressive; Atlantia is a confined area with limited space, and people are all thrown together in this tiny bubble. The first hint we see of Atlantia's strict government is the Council policy of taking siren children from their families. Though this is supposedly for the public good (since it allows sirens to be properly trained to control their powers), it also deprives small children of the love of their parents and makes them tools of the government apparatus. Additionally, the Ceremony of the Divide itself could be a hint that the government of Atlantia is oppressive. It is absurd that the only chance anyone in the city will ever get to go Above occurs once at the age of sixteen; at this young age, a person cannot reasonably make such a life-altering decision. The Cermony of the Divide only gives the illusion of free choice.
In Chapter Twelve, we learn that the religion of Atlantia was inspired by people seeking explanations for the sirens. Do you believe this makes the religion of Atlantia less true or more true? Be sure to note features of this religion related to the sirens.
I think this makes it more true. Although the religion was made up by people looking for answers, they also began to notice that truly inexplicable and miraculous were happening around them, so they incorporated them into their religion. The sirens are regarded as one of the great miracles, along with the appearance of the blue bats in the temple. Additionally, the religion unifies the Above and the Below, dovetailing with the better and more compassionate instincts of all people.
Do you think Oceana did the right thing by concealing Rio's siren identity? Why or why not?
No, I do not think Oceana did the right thing by hiding Rio from the Council. Rio could have been trained to use her voice rather than keeping silent her whole life; though this experience made Rio stronger, it could also have destroyed her. Additionally, if she had been raised by the Council, she also would not have been so affected by the loss of her sister Bay, and could have developed into a more mature and reasonable person. Perhaps she would not have been able to make her dramatic stand in the temple of the Above, but she could have lived a much happier life and one of the other hidden sirens could have taken her place.
The leadership styles of Oceana and Nevio are very different. What are the differences? What qualities do you think make a good leader?
Nevio is closed off to his people, giving them only the information that he wants them to know. Sometimes, as in the case of the sirens, he will lie to people to get them to do what he wants. Oceana, on the other hand, offered blessings to people and did her best to be honest with everyone, though this was not always possible. Oceana saw sirens as human beings, and an integral part of Atlantia, whereas for Nevio they were only a bargaining chip. Ultimately, Oceana is the better leader. Nevio may be able to use his siren voice to force people to do what he wants, but Oceana can actually reason with people and convince them that this is the right thing.
After years of oppression, the people of the Above have decided to cut off the people Below. What is their reasoning for doing so? Do you think this is a fair thing?
I do think this is fair. The first generation in the Above chose to stay there out of love for the children and other family members who were sent Below, but the next generations who came after them had no choice in the matter. They were born into a world of pollution, illness, and backbreaking work. Additionally, unlike the people of Atlantia, the people of the Above never had the chance to choose whether they would stay where they are or go Below. It is reasonable to wish to conserve resources for oneself rather than give them up to a parasitic civilization that has offered nothing in exchange.
There is much debate over the nature of the long-awaited third miracle. What are some of the things that the characters describe as the third miracle, and what do you think it is?
I think that the third miracle is the reunification of the Above and the Below. The level of hatred that the people Above had for the people Below is truly incredible: the inhabitants of Atlantia abandoned the people Above to pollution and disease, but also demanded that they send food and other resources Below. This went on for generations. The people of the Below also have reason to be angry: the people Above were willing to allow them to die. Elinor suggests that the fog was the third miracle, and Rio thinks that it was Maire's incredible intervention. However, I believe that the willingness of the people Above and Below to reunite and establish a future together is the true miracle.