Crossed Essay Questions

  1. 1

    Compare and contrast Ky’s narrating style with Cassia’s.

    For much of the story, primarily in its first half, Ky’s narration is very straightforward. It’s primarily storytelling, with very little insight into what Ky feels. He even makes mention at multiple points of choosing to swallow his anger instead of allowing himself to feel it. In contrast, Cassia makes every emotion known, from her elation at seeing Xander in Chapter 2 to her fears and hopes as she is taken from her work site and beyond. Cassia’s perspective, therefore, is painted with nuanced humanity, while Ky’s gives us less of a window into himself (although he provides beautiful descriptions).

  2. 2

    How would Crossed be different if there were only one narrator?

    In Matched, which was narrated solely by Cassia, the reader’s knowledge was limited to only what Cassia knew, which, for the purposes of the first book’s plot, was sufficient to tell the story. In Crossed, however, Condie unravels the exposition with not only Cassia’s conditions at her work site and elsewhere, but also detailed happenings on the war front where Ky is stationed, giving us a more complete picture of the larger conflict at hand. The dual employment of Ky’s narration and Cassia’s also helps the reader to see two different ends of the same story: one of the primary plot lines in the book is Cassia attempting to reunite herself with Ky, and in showing us Ky’s side as well as hers, we get glimpses into not only her journey to find him, but also what Ky is experiencing at her journey’s destination.

  3. 3

    Describe Indie’s role in the story relevant to the other characters. How is she alike and dissimilar to Cassia? To Ky?

    Indie is a foil to Cassia. While Cassia is often uncertain and naive, holding tightly to hope, Indie is hardened and realistic, with seemingly little desire to be hopeful of anything, except finding the Rising. Indie is also quite deceitful, specifically toward Cassia, and therefore arguably the least trustworthy of the characters in the Carving. She lies continuously, steals Cassia's microcard for her own viewing, and is ready at Ky’s word to leave Cassia and Eli behind to find the Rising. She can, however, also be a protective leader, as when she carries Cassia’s pack and advises her when she realizes Cassia is sick from a blue tablet.

    Ky draws a legitimate parallel between himself and Indie in saying, “I feel a pity so deep for her that it might be something else entirely. Empathy. You have to believe in something to survive. She’s picked the Rising. I chose Cassia” (280). Both characters harbor a quiet, hardened hate for the Society, and both, as Ky points out, find solace in things that give them purpose and make their struggle worth the fight: for Indie, it’s the Rising, whereas for Ky, it’s Cassia. In this way, they are remarkably similar, though with ultimately different end goals.

  4. 4

    What are some of the immediately noticeable similarities and differences between the Rising and the Society?

    The Society and Rising share some darkly similar characteristics. First and foremost, everyone in the Rising wears the same plainclothes, as with the Society, effectively rendering them uniform to look at. The Rising also serves everyone their meals and, perhaps most importantly, sorts them into specific vocations for which they’ve been deemed particularly useful. This draws a huge parallel to the way the Society assigns teenagers to specific occupations like sorters, arboretum workers, or nutrition disposal workers as happened to Ky and many of Cassia’s friends in Matched. Finally, the Rising uses the same data collected on their members as the Society, enabling them to learn invasive amounts of information about anyone that arrives there.

    The two entities are not complete twins, however. The Rising considers its use of the Society’s data different, as their “interpretations differ” (356), according to the man who interviews Cassia. They claim to rely on it solely because the information itself is factual and therefore useful, while the Society utilizes the data to learn about and control its citizens by predicting their behavior.

  5. 5

    Compare and contrast the ending of Crossed with its prequel, Matched. How is Cassia’s new situation similar and dissimilar from the end of the last book? What about Ky’s and Xander’s? What is the reader left knowing and not knowing in each?

    At the end of both books, Cassia has found herself in a place very unlike the setting of the majority of the novel, with a new set of goals and a strong feeling of determination. In Matched, this came in the form of wanting to escape her work detail and find Ky, and in Crossed, it's demonstrated by her working for the Rising and looking forward to meeting up with a certain "him" that coming evening. Xander, who was not present for most of Crossed, remains, to the reader's knowledge, in the Society, likely in Central, though as with Matched the reader is unaware of his exact status and whereabouts. Finally, Ky and Cassia are once again separate as Ky has been assigned a new vocation, this time one that will actually serve a purpose, as opposed to playing decoy for the Society (one hopes - nothing of Ky's new assignment is described in Crossed, so the reader can only make assumptions until Reached).

  6. 6

    Explore the role that colors play in Matched, and their significance in relation to the work as a whole.

    Blue comes to represent and describe many things over the course of Crossed: it’s the first image the reader obtains when Ky is standing in the river at the book’s opening. It’s the color of Ky’s eyes, the tubes in the Cavern, the tablets that Xander gave to Cassia that make her sick, and finally, the lines on the farmers’ bodies, including the corpses Indie and Cassia find. That Hunter reveals that these lines represent connection is perhaps fitting for the book, as it serves as the second book in a trilogy and therefore connects the story’s exposition and initial unfolding in the first to its broader climax and conclusion in the third.

    Red and green also play a significant, though secondary role, to blue in Crossed. Condie often employs the colors as a trifecta at crucial moments in the story, as when Cassia and Ky are finally reunited in Chapter 22. Green tends to refer to things in Cassia's past, like her once strong aversion to taking the Society's green tablets, or her influential grandfather's favorite color. In Matched, Ky describes red as representing rebirth and raw, natural growth. That the color of focus transitions from green to blue to red throughout the trilogy more broadly represents a transformation, both on the part of the characters and the Society as a whole, into a state anew.

  7. 7

    Describe Vick’s role in the story relevant to Ky’s. How are they alike and different?

    Vick is around Ky's age and every bit as much a leader. Ky can therefore relate to, trust in, and confide in him. As the only recruit that Ky deems to have these qualities, Vick very much acts as a support system for Ky in Cassia's absence. The two are able to teach each other various things, like Vick knowing about their military-grade jackets and Ky about the details of the Rising. Vick and Ky also share equal ground with regard to being estranged from their respective loves, though in Vick's case, Laney is the forbidden one without full Society citizenship, whereas for Ky, he's the one that is unable to be Matched. Vick's eventual death at the hands of the Society, along with the death of a rainbow fish that drew him out into the open, represents a potential worst case scenario for Ky and Cassia's relationship outcome. If unstopped, the Society could see to it that they, too, are separated permanently by death.

  8. 8

    Describe Eli’s role in the story. What makes him different from the others?

    As the youngest member of the gang formed in the Carving, Eli is naive and innocent, but brave, managing to stay strong in the face of great adversity and even overcome individual fears, like climbing to the Cavern by himself. His parents died from illness in Central, the Society's largest city, and so he is an orphan like Ky. However, Ky finds the circumstances surrounding his parents death suspicious, as adults rarely die from illness in the Society, particularly in Central. Eli looks up to Ky, Vick, and the others and relies on them for guidance, acting very much like a follower rather than a leader. Ky and Cassia both liken his demeanor and youthfulness to Bram, Cassia's younger brother, a quality that makes Ky want to bring him into the Carving in the first place. That Eli eventually chooses to go with Hunter shows that though he is young, he is capable of making his own decisions, something that Cassia could learn from. It also demonstrates his desire to have someone older and wiser to rely on, and in this way he returns Hunter to a father role again after the loss of his daughter.

  9. 9

    How does Ally Condie use foreshadowing to advance the plot of Crossed?

    Moments in the book that foreshadow events to come are plentiful. As the central color theme of each book in the trilogy is green, blue, and red respectively, there are many moments in which red is used to foreshadow events to come in the final book, Reached. For example, Cassia learns that Xander's favorite color is red and not green, signifying the greater role he will come to play. Also, Ky paints Cassia wearing a red dress on a cave wall in Chapter 44, symbolizing the conclusion of her character transformation from unassuming Society member to Rising rebel.

    Cassia’s statement that “it will all come clean” (337) in Chapter 48 can be interpreted as foreshadowing Crossed’s final chapters when she, Indie, and Ky join the Rising, as well as the plot of the trilogy’s final book, where the country may be washed clean of the Society, a metaphor that compares the totalitarian government to filth in need of removal.

    Finally, the book concludes with a foreshadowing from Cassia that the natural beauty of the frost will "too soon vanish" (376). This could be interpreted one of several ways. The chill of the frost disappearing could represent the cold grip of the Society loosening as the Rising takes it down. The beauty of the frost dying could also symbolize great loss to come. In either case, the statement hints at impending change, reinforcing the cliffhanger on which Condie leaves the reader before the events of the trilogy's final book unfold.

  10. 10

    Choose a significant character other than Cassia or Ky from Crossed. Describe how the story might change if it were told from his/her perspective.

    Given that one of the primary points of conflict in the story is Ky and Cassia's estrangement, the story would change significantly were it to be told from the perspective of anyone but them. If Indie were given a narrating role, for example, it would play a stronger foil to Cassia, and would detail their experience at the work site and throughout the Carving together, with Indie thinking primarily of the Rising and Cassia of Ky. Indie's guilt and shame over failing to escape the Society in her boat, which would become more apparent as she narrates, would parallel the guilt that Ky harbors through much of the story about running from his parents' corpses after they were killed.

    As another example, if the story were told from Hunter's point of view, the reader would be privy to the experience of the farmers prior to Cassia, Ky, and others happening upon him alone in his village. Sarah would've been an actual character in the story rather than just a memory, as would Anna and Catherine. The reader also would've experienced a much more detailed account of the farmers' split decision on whether to fight the Society themselves, join the Rising, or escape to a safer place, and likely would've been introduced to many of the farmers in a context other than their corpses in heaps on the ground.