Over the course of The Young Elites, Adelina grapples with a plethora of inner conflicts, particularly her predilection for darkness. By the end of the book, would you say this conflict has been resolved? Why or why not?
Throughout the book Adelina’s powers push her towards violence, towards the darkness and it is her conscience, her inner light that wrests her back. For example, when Raffaele casts her from the Dagger Society, she imagines making him cower in agony. At this thought, her powers “swell in anticipation” while she “recoils in horror at the spark of joy” she felt (Lu 2014 pp. 595). Adelina says that she can feel herself losing, that “the darkness seeps in a little more everyday” ((Lu 2014 pp. 607). While at the denouement of the book she seems to relish this darkness, finding in it the strength she needs to exact revenge upon Teren, she simultaneously seems fearful of the darkness taking control and making her do things against her will. So while by the end of the novel Adelina has come to embrace her powers, and says she cannot live without them, this conflict is far from over.
Adelina, like so many of the Young Elites, received indelible marks on her body after surviving the blood fever. Are these markings, which label the malfetto as different, a fair trade for the powers some of the malfetto gain?
While it may be difficult for us as readers to definitely answer this question, since we have neither the powers nor the markings of the malfetto, we can look to the characters of the book for a possible answer. In particular, Adelina has a moment at the end of the book that sheds some light on this quandary. She has just cut off all her hair and is having her powers restrained by Violetta. She tells Violetta about how the darkness is seeping in and Violetta offers to one day remove Adelina’s powers permanently. Adelina reacts with horror and anger. She demands, then begs, for Violetta to return her powers. When Violetta does, Adelina feels “life and freedom” rushing back into and she thinks “[my powers are] all I have that is mine” (Lu 2014 pp. 608). Here we can see, that despite all the sorrow, violence, and suffering her markings have brought her, Adelina would not want to lose her powers for anything.
Compare and contrast the initiation pledges of the Dagger Society and the Rose Society. What do the different pledges suggest about each group?
The pledges of the Dagger Society and the Rose Society differ because of the different ambitions and positions of their respective writers. Enzo, the writer of the Dagger Society pledge, wished to regain his position within Kenettran society and take his rightful place as ruler. That’s why his pledge has lines like “take back what belongs to us” and “make the power of our Elites known” (Lu 2014 pp. 311). His pledge seems to be concerned with the “bigger picture” or the overall position of the Young Elites in society. All of this differs sharply from the Rose Society pledge, penned by Adelina. There is no mention of the government, or of the Elites as a whole, or as a “people”. Rather, the pledge is rather individualistic and vengeance heavy. While the Dagger pledge is about the bigger picture, the Rose pledge is one person’s quest for revenge. Something the pledges have in common however is their willingness to use violence to achieve their desired ends.
In the characters of Adelina and Violetta, Lu sets up a ruined vs. beautiful, “freak” vs. "normal" dichotomy. Are the lines of this dichotomy blurred when it is revealed that Violetta is also a Young Elite, that she also gained powers after surviving the blood fever? Why or why not?
A recurring theme in Lu’s work is perfection and how characters negotiate their relationships with it. From the beginning of the book Adelina is resentful of her sister Violetta, who survived the blood fever unmarred and outwardly perfect. This is the opposite of herself, from her silver hair to her amputated left eye. Adelina begins to associate Violetta with everything she is not: perfectly beautiful, innocent, a non-malfetto, etc. With the revelation that Violetta is also a Young Elite, Adelina must reevaluate these dichotomies and parallels she established. If perfect and innocent Violetta is an Elite does that mean that Elites are not violent by default? Does that mean one can be an Elite and still be “good” and “normal”? These are all questions created by the blurring of the dichotomy Lu set up by using the two sisters as proxies.
The monarchy and the common people of Kenettra all participate in the persecution of malfettos. Why are malfettos a hated people in Kenettran society? By what means are they persecuted?
When thinking about the reasons why malfettos are hate in Kenettra, it’s important to consider the question from different perspectives. For example, non-malfetto laypeople in Kenettra would say they hate malfettos because they are dangerous and pose a threat to the success and stability of the country. This is a view that was cultivated by the Kenettran monarchy, who see the malfetto as a convenient scapegoat for their own failures. If you ask malfettos like Enzo however, they would say they are feared because they were “born to rule” and would disturb the status quo if they were to gain power (Lu 2014 pp. 105).
The malfetto are persecuted through means reminiscent of the German Holocaust, or antebellum and Jim Crow-era America. They were stripped of their citizenship, and have a status lower than that of dogs. This is highly problematic because when pedestrian people commit crimes against malfettos (such as the man that wanted to make Adelina his mistress before she became of age), the malfettos have no state or legal protections In addition, they have been publicly executed and burned for bogus crimes, pulled from their homes, etc.