Chapter 29 Summary
Cassia wakes to screaming the next day, not from a tree saw but a human. Her mother comes in to make sure it’s not her. Her father confirms it’s not Bram. They head outside and see that the screaming is Aida Markham, Ky’s mother. In front of his house, Ky is being escorted away by Officials in handlocks. Cassia sprints after them, passing a confused Em outside her house. She reaches Ky and they scream each other’s names. In the noisy chaos of him being taken away, Cassia points to the sky to tell him she’ll keep fighting and find him. He mouths the words of Do not go gentle and then is taken onto the train.
An Officer restrains Cassia, but her family runs over and her father tells them to leave her alone, that she was just upset at seeing a childhood friend taken away. Xander’s family is there, and his father asks where they’re taking Ky. An Official comes forward and says Ky is going to a new work position in a different Province and his mother was simply distressed. Patrick Markham interrupts to say that they’re lying, that Ky has been sent to the Outer Provinces to fight in the war with the Enemy. They recruit the Aberrations first and now he’s going to die. The Markhams are restrained and more Officials arrive, including Cassia’s Official, the one who warned her about having feelings for Ky. They instruct everyone to take out their red tablets and take them. Alarmed, Cassia discreetly drops hers and crushes it underfoot. Cassia’s parents volunteer to take them first. The Official says it will simply clear their minds, and that’s when Cassia realizes that the mysterious red tablets cause memory loss. Everyone will forget the incident with Ky and the news about the war.
Everyone lines up and takes their tablets. When Cassia’s Official checks to make sure she’s taken her tablet, Cassia fakes consuming it and the Official moves on. Cassia realizes that the Official knows she didn’t take it but didn’t say anything because both of them want her to remember.
Chapter 30 Summary
Later that morning, Cassia feels emotionally exhausted as her family struggles through the fogginess of their memory loss. Her mother receives a message on the port that the family has been Relocated to the Farmlands of a different Province and will be moving the next day. She is horrified and blames herself.
Cassia goes into the City. On her way, she runs into Em, who’s heard that Ky’s father is being transferred to work in the Central Government. Cassia continues downtown, initially heading for City Hall, but turning her attention to the Museum when she realizes that no one at City Hall would be of any help to her.
In the Museum, she heads first to the exhibit where her artifact is supposed to be, but when she sees that there’s just a ‘Coming soon!’ sign where they’re supposed to be, she knows that they’ll never actually come. She heads instead to the basement, where, as Ky said there would be, a man appears and asks her if she wants to know more about the history of Oria Province. Suddenly realizing she doesn’t want to trade her and Ky’s poem for anything, she declines, but and instead asks him the names of the Outer Provinces. He says that beyond that title, they have none. She inspects a map and asks him about Sisyphus River, and he says that he once heard that it was poisoned partway down and no one could live near it. Thinking that Ky might be near it, Cassia thanks him and leaves.
Outside, Cassia’s Official waits for her in a greenspace. The Official blames Cassia for what happened to Ky. Cassia accuses them of killing the elderly with poison, which the Official qualifies, calling it humane. She tells Cassia that the Society intentionally put Ky into the Matching pool, as they sometimes do with Aberrations, to observe what would happen. They were intrigued when he was Matched with Cassia, a statistically improbably occurrence. The Official expresses disappointment that she wasn’t able to see the experiment through and write up an article on it, which angers Cassia. When the Official lets on that she thinks Xander knows nothing about what happened, Cassia realizes that the Officials can’t and don’t know everything, like that Cassia told Xander she was falling for Ky. The Official asks Cassia what ultimately happened between her and Ky, but she refuses to tell her. Cassia asks again if the Officials really put Ky’s name into the pool, and when the Official reconfirms, Cassia realizes from her facial movements that she’s lying: they don’t know who entered Ky into the pool. Satisfied, she leaves.
Chapter 29-30 Summary
At the book’s climax, where Ky is taken away to fight in the Society’s war as his mother screams, reveals the true colors of many of Cassia’s neighbors and family. Cassia is surprised at the upfront way that both her and Xander’s fathers speak with the Officer restraining her, demanding to know what’s happening and where Ky is being taken. Her mother displays pride at her father’s forcefulness. Patrick Markham, liberated by grief, shouts illegal claims about the Officials lying about where Ky is being taken. We see in this scene that under the right, emotional circumstances, Cassia is not the only one capable of defiant behavior against the Society.
And perhaps no event makes this more apparent than the revelation that the red tablet that all citizens carry but don’t know the purpose of turns out to be a memory loss tablet. A memory loss drug shows the lengths to which the Society will go to maintain order and obedience, even wiping suspicious or outright outrageous events from people’s minds to keep them in line. Where knowledge of specific atrocities like Ky’s forced military recruitment could incite anger and eventual rebellion, the Society’s regulation and willingness to mentally eradicate condemning evidence is a testament to their backward morality.
Cassia shows how important her and Ky’s poem is to her in the way she refuses to give it up in exchange for anything from the Archivist. Ultimately, she need not have bothered; the information he’s willing to provide free of charge proves valuable in itself. The information she gathers about the Sisyphus River is the first clue that she plans to look for Ky.
True to her nature, Cassia’s Official maintains her antagonistic role to the very end of the book. Blaming Cassia for what happened to Ky and treating the experiment of their relationship as research for an article demonstrates how apathetic she is to Cassia’s pain and stubborn to defend the Society’s own righteousness. On the flip side, her telling Cassia that the Society cares about her “no more or less than… all [their] citizens” shows that the facade of care that the government maintains still holds (Page 343). Cassia’s realization that the Official doesn’t actually know who put Ky’s name into the Matching Pool, however, reinforces her revelation that the Society doesn’t know everything, and that she can use the holes in their knowledge to her advantage. This, too, leaves open the gate for new events to unfold.