The evening air holds the bittersweet tang of what might have been, and I catch my breath as Xander turns to look at me under the warm light of the street lamp. His eyes still speak of what might be.
This quote emphasizes the limbo-like state of Condie’s plot in Crossed, the trilogy’s second book. Much has been established, altered, and left in the past with the first book, but there is also much that still hangs in the balance, chiefly, who Cassia will ultimately swear her heart’s allegiance to. “What might have been” refers to the hypothetically happy life of non-defiance that Cassia and Xander could have shared had their Match gone off without a hitch and Cassia not fallen in love with someone else, and “what might be” then alludes to their precarious future and the ultimate transpiration of Cassia’s love life yet unrevealed.
When I look over later, I see that Eli is crying, but it’s not enough to drown in so I don’t do anything yet.
Ky’s statement here draws a parallel to Vick’s dry observation of the new, full water canteen delivered to the decoys: “There’s not even enough to drown in” (48). These two statements demonstrate the casualness of death, even the potential welcoming of it, that Ky and Vick have grown so used to out in the Outer Provinces. Ky’s indifference toward Eli’s crying is testament to his hardness and the futility of Eli’s grief. Eli’s tears can also be thought of as a metaphor for this grief, as Ky’s reference to drowning in the former likens drowning in tears to drowning in sorrow. There’s even a touch of potential foreshadowing with the way Ky’s adds “yet” to the end of the sentence, hinting at the decoys’ increased misery in the future.
Because once you love, it is gone. You love and you cannot call it back.
Cassia’s reference to not being able to call love back once it is given can be thought of as representing the things that she has done for Ky that the Society doesn’t allow and the way she can’t undo them now and go back to the way things were. Her love for him has taken her as far away as a grueling work detail with only a strange, new Province to call home. Her entire life has changed because of her love for him, and there is nothing she can do to reverse it. This notion fuels her determination to keep moving forward and eventually find Ky.
Part of me likes the sense of purpose in their movements and knowing that I helped them feel better for even a little while. But deep down I know that all I’ve done is throw them a scrap. They’re still going to starve.
Ky is observing the decoys as they gather rocks the way he and Vick requested of them, acknowledging the brief, unlasting sense of purpose he has given them. Though the boys can experience temporary accomplishment in gathering the rocks, on a larger scale they’re meaningless objects to the Society, as their only purpose is to die, and as such they can have no lasting accomplishments. Ky likens their lack of purpose to starvation, emphasizing the necessity of purpose as sustenance for human survival, and acknowledging that the little bit he can give them in ordering them around won’t be enough to keep them alive.
Don’t sort, I tell myself. See.
This moment of trying to see the boys in the village as people rather than data is a pivotal character development for Cassia. For many years she was molded by the Society, trained to see only what they wanted her to see, to think numerically and see the world as data to be sorted. Brainwashing of this type was crucial for snuffing out any effort to question the Society or becoming aware of its fallibility and cruelty. Over the course of Matched, that mindset changed in Cassia, and in Crossed she is now attempting to be free of the mold that the Society set her in and see the masses around her as human the way non-sorters would.
The lesson was a good one to learn. Do not pretend one place is like another or look for similarities. Only look for what is.
This quote draws a parallel to the previous one and demonstrates a relatively new similarity between Ky and Cassia. Ky insists on looking at things as they are, to not compare or categorize, something that used to be all Cassia knew. Earlier in the book, she demonstrates her development into someone who sees rather than sorts, and in many ways, Ky was the person who sparked that change in her. He represents Cassia’s larger disillusionment from the world she used to know, beginning from the first time she saw his name on the screen when observing her microcard.
It’s a waste of water to cry, I tell myself, but I can’t seem to stop.
This quote from Cassia upon waking from a dream about Xander illustrates the constant battle she faces with emotion versus survival. In a place as dangerous as the Carving and in a state of refuge from the Society, Cassia’s heart getting in the way of her head can be dangerous. Her unwillingness even to cry for fear of wasting water is testament to her bleak and precarious situation, and her mental fight against it, however futile, shows her willingness to be strong in the face of her adversity.
It’s one thing to be fired upon and another to be warmed.
Ky’s observation here is of the difference between the heat of their campfire and that of the bombings from which they’re running, drawing a powerful, even poetic, parallelism. Ky, Vick, and Eli have escaped into the Carving for the exact purpose of evading the heavy firing killing so many deported Aberrations like themselves. In that context, heat means death. And yet the cold of the night can be just as deadly now that they’ve escaped, and so the heat of their fire here means life.
He turns the piece and studies the way her name looks right now—LAN—almost all straight lines. Like notches in a boot. And suddenly I know what he has been marking all along. Not time survived in the Outer Provinces—time lived without her.
This quote brings about a clear juxtaposition between Ky and Vick’s situations with regard to the loved ones they’ve left behind. Ky insists that he’s out in the Carving for a single reason: to somehow reunite with Cassia. In this way, his time can be illustrated in terms of how long he’s been away from her. Similarly, he understands here that Vick feels a longing for Laney, a desire to be with her again, and that longing is the reason he keeps track of the days—not to know how long he’s been there, but how long he hasn’t been somewhere else—with her.
He stops just close enough for me to see the blue of his eyes and forget the red on my hands and the green I wish I wore.
Condie chooses this reunion between Ky and Cassia - a pivotal turning point in the book - to bring together the three crucial colors that continually recur throughout the Matched series. Importantly, the blue of Ky's eyes are the positive part of Cassia's observation here, as opposed to the blood on her hands or the dress that she's now lost. Crossed establishes itself as the blue book of the series, giving primary focus to blue imagery and blue-related plot points like the water in the opening scene or the farmers' blue markings, so this positivity makes sense. Having green represented by something Cassia no longer has symbolizes all that she has lost between the beginning of the series and now - her citizenship, her faith in the Society, and of course her dress - and having red symbolized by blood may prove to be an important moment of foreshadowing with regard to the plot of the series' final book, Reached.
Shapes and figures form in the darkness, lit by tiny blue lights along the floor of the cave that shine like small raindrops. But, of course, they are too orderly to have fallen.
This observation illustrates a stark contrast between the naturalness that Cassia grows familiar with in the Carving and the rigid artificiality of everything the Society creates. For much of the Matched series, there has been a theme of human creation versus manufactured perfection: Cassia desires to write by hand, not just type on a screen; she wants to write Ky a poem, not recite one written by someone else. Her comparison of the blue lights to raindrops “too orderly to have fallen” is a representation of this dichotomy between man-made and natural, between the Society and real humanity.
I do see myself in Indie. 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.
This quote serves to illustrate the strong parallels between Ky and Indie as characters. Both are estranged from the Society and harbor a quiet, hardened hate for it. Both, as Ky points out, find solace in different things to give them purpose and make their struggle worth the fight. That Indie chose the Rising and Ky Cassia highlights the continuous theme of having to make difficult choices throughout Crossed and the Matched series at large. Additionally, it demonstrates that Ky considers joining the Rising and staying with Cassia mutually exclusive choices, an ultimately divisive conflict between the two.
I didn't know I had this inside of me. I didn’t know all that was inside of him, either. I thought I did, but people run deep and complicated like rivers, hold their shape and are carved upon like stone.
Condie employs imagery from Cassia and the others' time in the Carving to illustrate the character development Cassia has undergone thus far in the Matched trilogy. While she began the series as a complacent, unassuming member of the Society, she has grown into a calculating agent of the Rising, able to decide trade elements and strategy on her own, among other things. She also refers to now knowing that "he" had as much inside of him, and though the reader doesn't know if she means Ky or Xander, the notion could apply to either. Xander is part of the Rising; Ky knew about it but held deep feelings of guilt and anger toward it. All three characters have thus come to show more authentic pieces of themselves as Crossed concludes, pieces that will surely aid in their continued development in the series' final installment.
Crossed Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Crossed is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.