Chapter 17 Summary
Cassia’s hiking is becoming easier for her physically. She scales the hill no problem, but discovers that she is actually third to the top this time: Livy is sitting with Ky, and they appear to be writing things in the dirt, the way Ky had been doing with Cassia. Cassia’s is upset, feeling like she can’t say or do anything of the things she and Ky usually say and do because Livy is there. She doesn’t approach them. When the hike is done, the Official tells them that tomorrow they’ll be heading to a new site. Ky asks subtly if Cassia wants to share more of her poem with him. She wordlessly declines.
Cassia dresses in clean plainclothes for her outing with Xander. Her father says that her mother will call later to hear about it. The Official and Xander then arrive and Cassia heads out with them. They go to a nearby private dining hall, similar in effect to a present-day restaurant, but with the same pre-made food that Cassia would’ve eaten at home. As they are walking inside, Cassia has a sudden vivid flashback to when her mother was tucking her into bed at a younger age and a flower fell out of her hair. At the time, Cassia didn’t question it, even though picking flowers is forbidden, but now she realizes that her father was willing to bend the rules to get her mother the flower, just like he bent them to destroy his father’s tissue sample. Cassia realizes that Xander bent the rules in the same way to help Em.
Inside the hall, fake lights flicker to imitate romantic candlelight. The Official sits with Cassia and Xander at the table, disrupting the atmosphere. The two talk casually about hiking and swimming. Cassia continually thinks of Ky throughout the date, to her own dismay and for which she reprimands herself. When Xander sees that something is wrong, Cassia asks why he didn’t kiss her goodnight the other night. Xander says that there have been more Officials patrolling lately and that it wouldn’t have been the same. Cassia’s mind drifts back to Ky, and she wonders if falling in love with his story is the same thing as falling in love with him.
Chapter 18 Summary
When Cassia and Xander arrive home from their date, they see an air car sitting in front of Em’s house. The Official supervising their date bids them goodbye and they meet up with Em outside her house. She tells them that the Officials are confiscating everyone’s artifacts. Cassia is immediately alarmed, as she knows that Ky’s artifact is still at her house and that, as an Aberration, Ky is not legally allowed to have it. Despite Em’s apparent distress, Cassia and Xander leave her and privately discuss what to do. Xander volunteers to hide Cassia’s compact so she can tell the Officials she lost it. She agrees and heads home. Inside, she makes the decision to save Ky’s artifact and sacrifice her own, valuing Ky’s safety over her material possession. She heads back out to Xander and embraces him so that she can slip what Xander thinks is her compact but is actually Ky’s compass down his shirt for him to hide. She tells him to bury it but not open it because it’s not what he thinks.
Bram appears and tells Cassia about the impending confiscations, thinking that she doesn’t know. She fakes surprise and comforts him, knowing that he is about to lose his grandfather’s watch. Bram tells her that their father was called in against his desire to help with the collecting. Cassia tells Bram to go get his artifact and spend his remaining minutes memorizing it.
The Officials arrive and tell them that the government has decided that individual artifact possession promotes inequality and that they must take them for display in the Museum. Cassia and Bram hand over their two artifacts. The Officials then do a quick search of the house, finding nothing of interest. Before they leave, Bram tells them that the watch will always be his.
When the Officials have left and Bram has gone to his room, Cassia pulls out the envelope that Ky returned her compact in and discovers another napkin hidden in it. On this one, Ky has written the words drowning, drinking and then drawn two of himself again. The younger Ky depicted drinks the rain from the sky, the landscape rocky and barren. The older one hangs his head from the rain as she stands in his and Cassia’s neighborhood, looking like her might drown. Beneath it, he’s written, "When it rains, I remember" (Page 207).
Chapter 17-18 Analysis
Cassia makes an important observation in Chapter 17 about her father when she recalls the picked flower in her mother’s hair from when she was younger: that he is willing to bend the rules, even as an Official, for the ones that he loves. We saw an instance of this when he destroyed his father’s tissue sample at his request. Cassia sees a parallel between her father and Xander in that way: Xander was willing to bend the rules and give up his green tablet for Em when she had already used hers; despite the risk of punishment, Xander was willing to help someone he cared about. This only reinforces Cassia’s continued observations about the similarities between her and Xander’s relationship and her parents’.
Chapter 17 also shows us the most poignant peak yet in the development of Cassia’s feelings for Ky: the frank internal admittance that she might be in love with him. This is a turning point in that Cassia has now concretely established what until that point had been unspoken: that her interest in Ky had gone from pure curiosity following the microcard malfunction to romantic once she began to learn about him. The reader has been able to speculate about the extent to which she feels attached to him, but in this moment, we see her definitively acknowledge it.
The Society-wide confiscation of artifacts marks the first instance of Cassia being legitimately angry with her government. At multiple points thus far, we’ve seen her garner rebellious thoughts and express sadness or disappointment with her restrained ability to create and write freely and originally, but the taking of her and Bram’s artifacts makes it more personal. This will become clearer still in Chapter 19, when Cassia expresses open disgust for herself and the other hikers always following order and refusing to fight back.