Atlantia Summary and Analysis of Chapters 13-16

Summary of Chapter 13

Unable to sleep after the shell ceases to give off her sister's voice, Rio goes to the deepmarket to see the night races, which are filled with unhappy people desperately trying to make money. She wonders if Bay ever went to the deepmarket night races. Unsure what else to do, she contacts Maire.

Maire welcomes Rio into her small but luxurious apartment. Rio asks her to tell the story of how the sirens became hated, and Maire agrees. The sirens began to use their power to control people, and one day in the temple two sirens stood up after the Minister's sermon and began screaming at each other. One said that the people deserved to know the truth about their world, and the other said they weren't ready yet. The two sirens began shrieking, and the terrible sound killed some of the worshippers. The Council decreed that sirens would have to accept Council control. One of the sirens accepted the new rules, but the other drowned herself in a wishing pool.

Rio realizes that the two sirens were sisters. There had never been two sirens in a family before, and there had never been two after. Until Maire and Rio, that is.

Summary of Chapter 14

Rio gathers up some metal leaves from the trees near the temple, and meets True as he gets off his shift at the gondola repair station. She asks him to make locks for her - she will lock her hands and feet together in the swimming lanes, and he will set dozens of mechanical eels and fish on her. She will have to break free from the locks before she is zapped or drowned. Rio believes that this magnificent stunt will earn her a great deal of money. True is extremely worried for her safety, and tells her not to do this. Rio knows that with her siren powers she can make the locks fall off and the mechanical fish stop swimming, but she does not want to reveal her secret siren identity to True.

Rio's test run of her lock-breaking, fish-dodging performance goes well: she is able to control all of these objects with her voice and hide this fact from True. True mentions that he made one of the fish (the one that brought her the key) out of a lion's head mixed in with the leaves. This was likely part of one of the statues of the gods.

Rio feels guilty that she cannot tell True everything she has learned about the true history of the sirens, but she decides to tell him that Nevio is a siren. True believes her, and tells her that he is immune to sirens but his parents made him keep it a secret. He also mentions that his mother died from water-lung, the same disease that took Rio's father. Because True is an only child, Rio realizes he never had the chance to go Above. True remarks that Rio probably always thought she would. The two agree that you sometimes don't get what you want.

Summary of Chapter 15

To complete her Oceana costume for her performance, Rio needs to make an imprint of the Minister's insignia. She sneaks into Nevio's office to do this, and notices that he has one of Maire's shells.

Infuriated, Rio asks Maire through her own shell if she is in contact with Nevio. Maire calmly replies that she is. Rio then asks the question she has really been wondering: did Maire kill Oceana? Maire replies that she did not; it was the Council that killed Oceana, each member placing a drop of poison in her cup. Oceana realized she was dying, and that's why she went to Maire's door. Nevio and the Council intended Oceana's death to serve as a warning to Maire.

Rio is furious at Maire for keeping silent about Oceana's murder, and believes that Maire's desire to save her own skin is what keeps her from telling the truth. Rio is disgusted with her aunt's cowardice, but realizes she will do the exact same thing. She begins to realize how lonely it is to be a siren.

Summary of Chapter 16

In her Oceana costume, Rio prepares for her daring performance. The morning of the day she plans to perform, True pulls her aside and hands her a large amount of money, explaining that these are his proceeds from the mechanical fish, and that she doesn't need to risk death to earn money to buy her mother's ring back. Rio, however, still wants to do this stunt to practice dodging the mines around Atlantia.

Rio is torn between her desire to get to the Above and her growing feelings for True. After he fails to convince Rio to give up her dangerous stunt, True says he can't watch and walks away. Trying not to weep, Rio decides there's no reason at all for her to stay in Atlantia, and buys an air tank from Ennio (Maire was right - saying "Asha" to him made him give up the goods).

Rio goes to work as usual, though her mind is occupied with True and her upcoming performance. But in the ocean room, she hears something that sounds like screaming. The alarm signaling a breach of Atlantia's walls sounds, and everyone puts on the emergency oxygen masks they are required to carry. Everyone, that is, except Rio, who had forgotten hers in her distraction. There are no extra masks, and no one can share theirs with her. Rio realizes she will die if the breach affects the oxygen levels in the ocean room, and she hears the screams of the sirens from the walls of Atlantia that Maire talked about so much.

Eventually, a voice in the loudspeaker explains that the breach is contained and the danger has passed. However, the voice also explains that the breach was in the deepmarket, and that the engineers were forced to seal it off to protect the rest of the city. This means that everyone who was in the deepmarket at the time of the breach is dead. Rio immediately thinks of True, and rushes off to the deepmarket to see if he is still alive.

Rio makes her way through a thick fog, an unusual occurrence in Atlantia. The last time it appeared was after Oceana's death, and people still regard the fog as a sign of her presence.


The story of the two siren sisters parallels the story of Maire and Rio (and perhaps Maire and Oceana). These two sisters were the last known occurrence of two sirens in one family - until Rio and Maire, that is. Will Maire and Rio cause another severe rift, or will they do the opposite and save Atlantia?

Despite her growing closeness with Rio, Maire still remains mysterious and her motives unclear. She frequently says she is only interested in saving herself, but her dedication to Atlantia and her willingness to take Rio undermines this; Maire is an excellent example of the unreliable narrator, in which the character's actions reveal motivations quite different from what she expresses in her words. Maire may be telling the truth when she narrates the story of the sirens, or she may not. Additionally, is Maire in contact with Nevio? What would this mean? Exiling Rio from the temple was a rather cruel and pointless act, but does this really mean that Nevio is an antagonist?

Rio plans to dress as her mother Oceana for her stunt with the locks, which the audience might find inspiring or tasteless. This is an example of Rio's slight touch of immaturity.

The fog is a potent piece of symbolism; just as the fog obscures one's vision, the tragedies it is associated with (the death of Oceana and the flooding of the deepmarket) obscure the future of Atlantia. On a more pragmatic note, the fog may also be caused by moisture or temperature changes associated with the weakening walls of Atlantia.

It is peculiar that Maire tells Rio to mention "Asha" to Ennio to get him to give her an air tank. The incident that this name seems to reference is never developed elsewhere in the book, and the name is never mentioned again. This may be an error on the part of Condie, or an element of the story that was edited out of the final published version of the novel.