Crossed Themes


Blue comes to represent and describe many things over the course of Crossed. It’s the first image the reader receives when Ky is standing in the river at the book’s opening. It’s the color of the sky reflected in Vick's dead eyes, of the blue tubes in the Cavern, of the tablets that Xander gave to Cassia that make her sick, and finally, of 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 installment in a trilogy and therefore connects the story’s exposition and initial unfoldings in the first to its broader climax and conclusion in the third. Blue additionally comes to mean safety and security for Cassia and the others, as it describes the sky on which they can focus as they traverse the canyons, as well as the stream on which they rely for water and orientation as well as to get to the Rising.


Red is one of the three colors employed emphatically by Allie Condie throughout the Matched series, and in fact is focused on most poignantly in the trilogy’s final book, Reached. In Crossed, red is used to represent and describe many things, particularly the landscape of the Outer Provinces and the Carving, which are arid and rocky deserts that provide little life and, relatedly, no promise of survival. Red also represents bloodshed at many points throughout Crossed, from when Indie and Cassia injure themselves while climbing and boating to Ky’s blood-stained hands when he is saying goodbye to Cassia. Condie has previously described red as representing newness and birth, a fitting description for the transition that Cassia makes from being a member of the Society to a rebel reborn in opposition to it.


Green is the third of Condie’s color trifecta in the Matched series, and was in fact emphasized most heavily in the Matched novel, in which it was used to describe Cassia’s eyes, Matching Banquet dress, favorite color, and the vegetation of the Hill on which she and Ky kindled their love. In Crossed, it holds an important place as representing the past for Cassia, as she reminisces back to the aforementioned pieces of her past life many times throughout the book, particularly her dress. Green additionally symbolizes sparse life in the Carving, as Condie uses it to describe the vegetation surrounding the stream, which she enjoys observing in such a desolate landscape.

Those Against the Society vs. Those Who Support It

There is a strong emphasis throughout Crossed on those who are working with the Society and those who are against it. This becomes immediately apparent when Cassia is able to trade with the Archivist at the museum with Xander. The Archivist maintains a facade as a Society member, but clearly works with another entity, either completely or partially. The theme is also represented by the recruits in the villages of the Outer Provinces. Though they are technically there as assets to the Society, they understand that they are sent there to die and so largely resent it. The continued reminder of who is a citizen and who is an Aberration or Anomaly in the story—and where Cassia falls on this spectrum now that she’s escaped—serves to emphasize the estrangement that the Society causes so many. Finally, the theme of for vs. against becomes more and more poignant as the existence of the Rising is incrementally revealed over the course of the book, illustrating an intricate and powerful opposition force fighting against the Society’s dystopian ways.


There is a considerable amount of separation that applies to and happens between characters in the book. The most crucial to the plot would be that of Cassia and Ky, both of whom have a main objective of finding the other. This is illustrated in great detail through their alternating narration throughout the first half of the book. There are, however, additional separations on every significant characters’ part. Hunter has been separated both from his dead daughter and their larger community of farmers who have either joined the Rising or moved on across the plain. Eli has been separated from the recruitment village by Vick and Ky, as well as from his deceased parents. Vick and Laney have been separated and, following Vick’s death, will remain so forever. Finally, all of these characters have been estranged from and escaped the Society, a broader separation in its own way.


Condie employs poetry as a means of interpersonal connection, event description, and character development throughout Crossed and the Matched trilogy at large. Cassia and Ky are influenced by Lord Alfred Tennyson’s “Crossing the Bar,” which tells of the Pilot leading the rebellion. Ky says its words over the dead, while Cassia uses it as motivation to find him. She and he additionally consider Dylan Thomas’ “Do Not Go Gentle” to be “their” poem, speaking its words to one another when parting near the book’s end. Cassia also finds herself attempting to write poetry for Ky at multiple points in the story, though she finds more success writing poetry about him. For her, poetry is a means of powerful creation, so important to her after escaping the originality-punishing Society. Finally, Condie drives home the poetry theme by writing an actual poem to describe the night that Cassia and Ky spend together in Chapter 27, when they focus entirely on one another rather than their predicament, taking time to kiss and hold and appreciate one another. This establishes poetry as the ultimate instrument in expressing their love.


The theme of choice has been prominent since the beginning of the Matched series, but it becomes even more so in Crossed. The conflict of Cassia choosing between her love for Xander and Ky remains at the forefront of her internal tensions, but additional choices join it, chiefly, whether or not to find the Rising. As Ky demonstrates a strong dislike for the Rising and establishes that he cannot accompany Cassia there, he leaves her in the position of choosing it versus him. This is never more clear than when they secure a boat that can safely take only two of the eventual five group members down the stream to the Rising, forcing her to choose who it should be. Finally, in Chapter 37, Ky acknowledges the similarity between him and Indie in realizing that each chose something to help them survive: for Indie, it was the Rising, and for Ky, it was Cassia.