It is common in complex novels for there to be a romantic subplot in which a protagonist is torn between two potential partners. Some famous, mainstream cases include Bella Swan with Edward Cullen and Jacob Black in Stephanie Meyers’ Twilight series or Katniss Everdeen with Gale Hawthorn and Peeta Mellark in Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games trilogy. While not the ultimate focus of each story’s plot, the subplot of indecision serves as an added element of anticipation for the audience. The dichotomous connection that Cassia has to both Xander and Ky, however, represents much more than a simple plight of indecision for her. It is, in effect, the entire point of Matched’s story.
Cassia’s potential ability to choose between Xander and Ky, a notion unheard of in the Society’s regulated world of controlled choices, is the central conflict of the book. To have a fork in the road presented to Cassia in the book’s third chapter sets the stage for a rollercoaster of rule-breaking, emotional betrayal, and dances with disaster. Her entire life is planned for her, from meals to daily schedules to what she wears. Even at points when she seems to have options, like deciding how to spend her free-rec hours or choosing a summer leisure activity, her actions are guided by the Society’s terms. So when she is suddenly faced with an unsanctioned decision of the heart, things for her begin to change.
Choosing between Xander and Ky is a much larger decision for Cassia than with whom to spend her life. Unlike the examples given above in Twilight and The Hunger Games, who Cassia chooses to love decides which life she’ll have to lead henceforth. To stay with Xander would be to embrace the terms that the Society has dictated for her. Even if Cassia actively did want to love Xander over Ky, her Match to him will always have been the Society’s choice, not hers. Being his Match and leading a life with him would therefore be to accept the decision that the Society made for her, to maintain the order and balance it dictates, and to grow old until the Society poisons and kills her at age 80.
Ky, on the other hand, inherently promises a very different life should Cassia choose to love him. Because of his Aberration status, Ky cannot technically be Matched, so for Cassia to choose him as a life partner would be to defy the Society’s laws. Cassia’s Official references the valid danger of a slippery slope should Cassia and Ky want to choose who to love: from a seed like that there could stem the desire to choose one’s vocation, Province, possessions, meals, etc. The loosening of one brick in the foundation is the loosening of them all, and eventually the entire entity could come crashing down. By this logic, Cassia’s eventual choice to love Ky is not just choosing a life with him, but choosing to live against the grain, rebelling against the Society’s dictations, and ultimately setting the stage for the dismantling of the entire dystopia under which they live.