Chapter 19 Summary
On the air train the next morning, people are quiet after the loss of their and their friends’ artifacts. As Xander gets off to go to swimming, he tells Cassia that he hid the artifact she gave him in the rose bed outside Ky’s house. Cassia momentarily wonders if Xander knows that it belongs to Ky or if it’s a coincidence.
At hiking, the Official tells everyone that they’ll be pairing up and marking off obstacles along the slopes of the Hill in preparation for a path being paved along it. Cassia is paired with Ky. Ky shows the group how to make a cairn, an organized pile of rocks, in case they run out of the red tags they’re supposed to be using to mark the obstacles. Cassia identifies with the Official’s disgust for all of them, they who simply do what they’re told without ever fighting back.
When Ky and Cassia are alone on the hill, they discuss the previous evening. Ky was concerned for Cassia’s wellbeing if the Officials had found her harboring an illegal artifact owned by an Aberration. Cassia is heartened at this, thinking previously that he only cared for the object itself. Cassia tells him that Xander helped her hide it. She then asks why he was teaching Livy how to write on the smaller hill the day before. He says he was lying to her because she asked what he and Cassia had been doing—he told Livy they were drawing trees, which is not forbidden the way writing is. This relieves Cassia immensely.
As they work Cassia recites more of the Thomas poem to him, eventually saying the whole thing. They find it calming to think that they are not the only two to feel the way the poem makes them feel. They say it back and forth to one another as they work. Before leaving the Hill, Ky finishes teaching Cassia how to write her name, saying the next day they’ll begin the rest of the alphabet. He gives her another napkin to look at later in private.
Chapter 20 Summary
Cassia talks with Em on her way from school and work that day. Em apologizes again for the confiscation of Cassia’s artifact. They discuss going to the game center for their free-rec hours that night. They see that Cassia’s mother is home from her trip and waiting for Cassia on her front steps. Em says goodbye and Cassia hugs her mother. Bram and their father have gone on a walk, so Cassia and her mother eat dinner together at home. Cassia’s mother talks briefly about her trip, saying that she went to another City’s Arboretum and then the Farmlands and now has to write up a confidential report, but that everything is mostly back to normal. Cassia’s mind drifts to Ky, and her mother asks if she’s thinking of Xander. Cassia begins questioning the Matching System, wondering if it was completely false and, if so, what that means for her parents’ love.
When they finish eating, her mother goes into her room to rest and Cassia sneaks a look at Ky’s newest napkin in her own. Its illustration is the most intricate and telling yet. Ky has drawn a village of small houses and people where everyone lays facedown. There are again two Ky’s illustrated. The first, the younger one, is looking skyward, his hands holding the words Mother and Father. The rain in the sky is black ammunition. The second Ky, the older one, has a small smile and closed fists as Officials watch him. Under the drawing is a poem that Ky wrote about the rain changing from blue to black and leaving nothing behind.
At the game center that night, Cassia notices a shortage of Officials, meaning that others are off dealing with something somewhere else. Ky is among the group, and Cassia feels a new appreciate for his past, knowing that he watched his parents die in a black fire of ammunition. Xander challenges Ky to a one-on-one game of chance, to everyone’s intrigue. They play prisoner’s dilemma, where they each put down a card, and if both have even cards, they each get 2 points. If both are odd, they get 1. If one is odd and the other even, the player with the odd gets 3 and the other gets 0. As they play, Cassia compares her feelings for Ky to Livy’s. At the end of the game, Xander and Ky have tied.
Cassia and Xander go out into the hallway and Xander tells her privately that he’s watched Ky play games at the center in the past and knows that he always intentionally loses, although he didn’t tonight. Xander says he does it because he knows the Officials watch to see who’s really good at the games and who isn’t.
Back inside, Ky challenges Xander to one more game, this one of skill. Cassia makes comparisons between the two boys as they play. In the end, Cassia sees that Ky has the chance to win, but watches him intentionally make a move that causes him to lose to Xander. Cassia realizes that Ky’s knowledge of how to play “this game” is the reason he loses every time.
Chapter 19-20 Analysis
Another parallel between Matched and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 appears in Chapter 19 when Cassia and Ky recite the forbidden Thomas poem back and forth to one another. At the end of Bradbury’s novel, protagonist Guy Montag meets a group of men on the outskirts of the city who act as literary repositories, having each memorized a different classic novel with the intention of keeping the story in existence despite all paper copies of it having been destroyed. Cassia and Ky employ the exact same method, ensuring that both of them ingrain Thomas’ forbidden poem in their memories so that neither will forget it despite its physical destruction in Chapter 11.
We see a glimpse of foreshadowing near the end of Chapter 19 when Cassia says that she and Ky are not touching, “not yet” (Page 215). Her relationship with Ky has grown steadily over the course of the book, even evolving to the point where Cassia internally acknowledges that she feels love for him, and this moment hints to the reader that there may be even more between them to come, or certainly that Cassia intends for there to be.
Ally Condie employs Ky’s secret drawings and writings as a strategic plot device to develop him as a character. Where he doesn’t use his words to communicate who he is or what his past holds, Cassia and the reader learn about him piece by piece through the napkins he gives her. In Chapter 20, we finally get a more complete picture of what happened before Ky’s adoption: his village was destroyed and his parents killed, providing explanation for Ky’s mysterious, melancholy nature. This gives Cassia a much stronger desire to protect him, which in turn only fuels her feelings for him.
Condie creates perhaps the book’s most blatant metaphor so far with the game between Xander and Ky. In the same way that they compete for Cassia’s affection on a daily basis—though we don’t know for sure at this point if this is Ky’s intention, and if it is, we know that Xander has no idea—they then compete for the win in a game of chance and later in one of skill. Their tie at the end of the game of chance feels unsatisfying and anticlimactic, paralleling the way that Cassia has not yet decided which boy she loves more, which one will “win,” so to speak.
Observing Ky’s intentional loss at the end of the second game shows us his attitude toward not only the game center games but also the Society at large around him. He knows how the system works and his place within it, he knows what the Officials and the government in general wants from him, and, as Cassia observes, he intentionally “loses,” or fails to be what they’re looking for. He demonstrates that he has no desire to be the ideal citizen, the kind that excels in a skewed, corrupted, dystopian system, even if he could theoretically. We know now that this stems from his traumatic past, and that it almost certainly means more upset to come in the future.