Chapter 11 Summary
Cassia wakes to the sound of breakfast coming from the kitchen. She has slept late again, not wanting to see her father after such a miserable previous day. When she finally comes to the kitchen, he has already left for work. The port screen has said there will be no hiking today because of rain. Cassia says that she instead will go visit her dad out at his work site, with the secret intention of destroying the paper in her compact.
Cassia runs into Ky on her way to the air-train platform. They chat about where Cassia is headed. Cassia notices that Ky’s eyes seem to match the grey sky, and she wonders if they have no constant color but simply change with the situation. When Ky asks what she’s thinking about, she answers honestly about his eyes, which to her pleasure makes him smile. When she asks him the same, she’s surprised when he answers truthfully, “Home” (Page 124). They share a long gaze. The moment is broken when the announcer says that the train is approaching. The two embark, sitting across from one another, and at Ky’s stop, he gets off without a word.
Cassia arrives at her father’s work site, an old library, the contents of which is slowly being disposed of into incinerators. Cassia’s father is the Official on site. Her grandfather was an Official before his forced retirement at age 70, although neither of them is high-level enough to implement rules. Cassia also sees a second Official at the library keeping tabs on her father. When one of the pages from a book being destroyed gets free and blows toward her in the wind, Cassia sees her chance and drops her own piece of paper to flutter along with it. A worker sees it and sucks it up with a tube for incineration.
Cassia is nearly late to school, and when she arrives, Xander tells her that he’s signed them both up to help replant flowerbeds outside First School with dinner and ice cream provided. Cassia is somewhat annoyed that he did this without asking but also pleased because she wants to do it anyway. Cassia is just thinking that she might also sign Ky up when the bell rings and they are ushered to class.
Piper is absent from school. Xander tells Cassia that Piper received her permanent work position and, as such, will not be in school anymore. Cassia is excited at the news, but hopes that Em and Xander don’t get their assignments and leave for a long time. She feels that everything is happening so quickly. She reassures herself with the fact that even if Xander gets assigned, he’s still her Match. She wonders about telling him about Ky, and thinks he would understand. A thunderstorm hits in the middle of class, which makes Cassia recall the Tennyson poem from the forbidden paper. She feels both relief and regret that the poems are gone.
Chapter 12 Summary
At work, Norah tells Cassia that they have an unusual sort that day: looking at physical traits for a Matching pool. Unsurprisingly to Cassia, it’s only for practice, not real Matches. Norah also says that Officials will administer Cassia’s next test, which Cassia takes to mean they want to see how she works under pressure. This is good news; they may be considering her for an optimal data sorting vocation.
Cassia works diligently on the Matching sorts, observing how many different combinations of physical traits a person can have. She was happy to not have to think about anything of the unusual things that have been happening in her life lately, but as she sorts, she allows her mind to wander too completely to Ky and she makes her first error in months. Flustered, she tells herself that it won’t happen when the Officials come next week.
Her father meets her as she is getting off the air-train home to ask if she came to his work site today. She says that she did, but that she saw he was busy and couldn’t stay long. When her father presses her about having something to say, she tells him about the paper her grandfather gave her, and how she destroyed it at the work site. Before she can stop herself, she asks her father about losing the tissue sample. Emotional, he confides that he didn’t lose it: he destroyed it at her grandfather’s request. He had said he didn’t want to die on the Society’s terms, but on his own. Cassia is livid because this means that her father chose to make her grandfather’s loss permanent. She runs in the house, feeling that it is hard to know how to be strong. She swears to herself that she will forget about Ky and focus on her life with Xander, despite how difficult that may be to accomplish.
Chapter 11-12 Summary
We learn a bit more about Cassia’s father in these two chapters. Firstly, he is an Official, though while his rank is above the average worker, he, as with his father’s Official status, is not high-level enough to enforce rules, like the Official checking in on him at work. We also learn that he has actively defied the Society in destroying his father’s tissue sample. Though this makes Cassia’s angry, it demonstrates the rebelliousness that her grandfather instilled in her father as well as her.
We also see Cassia and Ky grow a bit more open with one another through their conversation at the air-train stop. They are more comfortable being honest with another about what they are thinking, and we even see their first semi-intimate moment with the drawn out stare that they share before the announcement speaker interrupts them. As with the last time they spoke, they are most comfortable talking in secret.
Parallels to several dystopian novels become apparent in these two chapters, particularly as Cassia observes the old library being destroyed. The scene draws a parallel to Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, where the reading of outlawed books is banned and the novel’s protagonist, Guy Montag, is in charge of burning them. Cassia’s Society demonstrates the same heavy literary censorship. The instigating poems that her grandfather gives her can be likened to those that Guy’s government similarly prevents people from knowing, like "Dover Beach," the poem Guy illegally reads to his wife and houseguests that causes one of the guests to cry.
Cassia and her father’s hesitance to speak where they can be observed by their kitchen port strikes another parallel: one to George Orwell’s 1984, where the infamous Big Brother keeps watch over all its citizens via telescreens in every home. The Society’s citizens’ inability to write also draws a comparison to the illegality of writing in Orwell’s dystopian world, and the rebellious thoughts that Cassia will come to feel toward her beloved Society can be likened to “thoughtcrime,” the term Orwell coined for illegal, unspoken beliefs or doubts about one’s government. There is an important contrast, however: the Society attempts to make such thoughts impossible through the illusion of good life conditions rather than explicitly reminding people that they are banned.