“Better genes make for better soldiers make for better chance of victory against the Colonies, my professors always say.”
This passage helps explain why the Republic is so focused on eliminating bad genes from the population. Ultimately, all of the government’s cruel actions are driven by its militaristic culture and its need to get more land by conquering the Colonies. (Interestingly, the Colonies seem to have similar motivations. When June and Thomas interrogate a Colonies spy, he talks about how his country will make better use of the land than the Republic does.) Although June knows about the Republic’s goals, she does not understand how it pursues those goals until she meets Day.
“What a waste of a good soldier.”
One reason the Republic is so morally bankrupt is its view of human life. This society only sees humans as important insofar as they can help the government achieve its goals. When Commander Jameson says this about Metias’s death, it shows that she sees Metias only as a soldier - not as an individual with feelings and a family. The Republic’s extremely pragmatic worldview contrasts with those of June and Day, who are compassionate even to those who are weaker than they are.
“What a bunch of cons, men who had barely passed their Trials. I wonder if I can catch the plague from these people, even though I’m vaccinated. Who knows where they’ve been. Then I stop myself. Metias had told me never to judge the poor like that.”
June’s cruel thoughts about the poor reflect the values she has been taught by the military. However, they are also a product of her sheltered upbringing. She has trouble relating to the poor because she has never spent time with anyone outside her class or level of ability. Her undercover assignment will change this and awaken a side of her that cares more deeply about the less fortunate. This quote also illustrates Metias’s status as a compassionate role model for June and a symbol of human decency.
“Most of Day’s crimes involve saving people. All except Metias.”
The fact that Day has never committed murder before is the main reason June questions his guilt. This passage also introduces one of the central questions of the novel: whether a person can break the law and still be a good person. At the beginning of the story, June believes all criminals are bad. Even his acts of vandalism against the Republic are nonviolent. However, Day breaks the law to help others and to survive. Seeing this leads June (and perhaps some readers) to question whether it is acceptable to break the law if the law is wrong and a person’s motives are good.
“If there’s something we need to hear about, the generals will tell us.”
Here, Thomas demonstrates his extreme obedience and trust in authority. However, one of his most striking characteristics is his lack of curiosity. Day and June are both extremely observant; they constantly pay attention to their surroundings and notice every detail of what’s going on around them. This is what leads them to question the Republic in the first place. However, Thomas has none of their intellectual curiosity. Lu suggests that being intellectually lazy makes people less able to think for themselves, which can ultimately lead them to commit immoral acts.
“You think we go to labor camps if we fail? June, the only labor camps are the morgues in hospital basements.”
One of June’s most striking oversights is that she doesn’t realize what really happens to children who fail their Trial. Although she is a prodigy and extremely perceptive, she can also be naive about the lengths the Republic will go to in order to reach its goals. This moment also highlights the differences between how the rich and the poor are treated in this society. It seems like the Republic doesn’t even try to hide the gruesome facts about the Trial from its poor citizens. However, its rich citizens are kept in the dark; rich children who fail the Trial may even be treated better than the poor ones.
“Well, let me tell you a secret. I’m from a poor sector too. But I followed the rules. I worked my way up, I earned my country’s respect. The rest of you people just sit around and complain and blame the state for your bad luck. Bunch of dirty, lazy cons.”
For most of the novel, Thomas is portrayed as a relatively simple character. He is violent, short-tempered, and less observant than the other characters. However, this quote suggests that he has a layer of complexity. Although this plot highlights his bad qualities, Thomas also works hard and has ambition. However, his success in the military has made him complacent and allowed him to forget how to empathize with people who are less successful.
“She was a girl who’d lost her brother, and someone had led her to believe I did it, and in anguish she had tracked me down. If I’d been in her place, would I have done anything differently?”
Day and June both develop as characters over the course of Legend. This passage showcases the ways that Day has grown because of his experiences. Initially, he could only feel angry with June for betraying him. However, after making an effort to empathize with her he comes to understand why she behaved the way she did. He also begins to see what he has in common with the girl he believes is his enemy.
“If you want to rebel, rebel from inside the system. That’s much more powerful than rebelling outside the system.”
The blog that Metias wrote for June before he died opens up many questions about how a person should respond when they know their society is corrupt. When Metias found out about the Republic spreading the plague to its citizens, he did nothing. It’s possible to argue that this was the wrong thing to do. However, Lu strongly implies that Metias stayed silent to protect June, who would undoubtedly suffer if Metias tried to fight the Republic. This passage from the blog also suggests that Metias may have been trying to rebel "from inside the system" like he urges June to do. June’s ultimate choice to go against Metias’s advice and rebel from outside the Republic demonstrates that she is growing into a woman capable of making major decisions independently.
“Each day means a new twenty-four hours. Each day means everything’s possible again. You live in the moment, you die in the moment, you take it all one day at a time... You try to walk in the light.”
When we finally learn the meaning of Day’s street name, its connection to the plot is not immediately obvious. However, it suggests that in the future, the characters will be driven by hope instead of revenge. Although Day chose the name many years ago, it provides resolution for the novel by showing how Day and June have grown.
Legend Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Legend is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
He once torched a whole squadron of fighter jets on an empty airfield in the middle of the night and has on two occasions grounded airships by crippling their engines. He once vandalized the side of a military building. He's stolen...
June is very upset by the ceaseless torture of the spy at Thomas' hands. She is most upset about the fact that Thomas is enjoying himself so much...... he likes inflicting pain. From this, we can infer that June is an empathetic character........