When Enzo saves Adelina from the Inquisition, the last thing she remembers before she faints is a silver insignia on his armguard. This insignia is of a dagger and is our first hint about the people that have saved Adelina. A dagger is the symbol of the Dagger Society and suggests that they are willing to use force and violence to achieve their ends. This assertion is supported by the actions of the Dagger Society during multiple occasions, such as the night of the Kenettra’s Spring Moons celebration. During this event Enzo epitomized the unwavering, unyielding, and ruthless nature of a dagger when he melted two Inquisition officers from the inside.
In the world of The Young Elites, gemstones are believed to be the lingering remainders of gods and angels upon the earth. Each gemstone is symbolic of a certain deity and a specific character trait. Raffaele uses gemstones during his evaluations of new Young Elites in order to get a gauge of them and their abilities. During her assessment, Adelina reacts first and most strongly to diamond, which symbolize power and ambition. She also reacts to: veritium, which symbolizes truth in oneself and wisdom; roseite, for love and passion; amber, symbolic of “the hatred buried in one’s chest” (Lu 2014 pp. 145); and, finally, nightstone, which stands for the strength of fear and inner darkness.
Denarius and Laetes (Allegory)
Denarius and Laetes are angelic brothers in the Kenettran mythos. Denarius was the angel of Greed, and Laetes the angel of Joy. In one allegory Denarius casts his brother from the heavens and condemns him to live on earth as a man until his death, at which point he would be returned to the realm of the gods. Some believe that by sentencing his brother to an earthly existence Denarius was curing Laetes of his arrogance in thinking he was the darling child of the gods. Teren tells Adelina this story when he tries to convince her to betray the Dagger Society. He positions himself as a Denarius-like figure, as someone who sets things right by doing what is difficult, as someone that is restoring balance.
Kindness with Strings Attached (Motif)
A major motif of The Young Elites is ‘kindness with strings attached’. This means that for any good deed someone does, they expect something in return. Adelina references it whenever she questions the motives of someone that offers her aid. A prime example of this motif in action is Adelina’s conversation with Raffaele after Enzo’s battle with Teren. Raffaele has just told Adelina that he never really trusted her, that he had advised Enzo to kill her. Adelina breaks down completely at this revelation, because Raffaele was the one person in the Dagger Society that she trusted completely, with no reservations. She realizes that all of the outward kindness and affection Raffaele had given her were affectations. He was being kind in order to ensure she remained in-line with the cause of the Dagger Society. After this revelation from Raffaele, Adelina looks back and realizes he was just like her father and Teren, using her for their gain. She despairs until the last chapter of the book, when she realizes she has received kindness for free, with no expectations of reciprocation. She was just looking in the wrong places. She had never realized her sister was giving it to her all along.
Threads of Connection (Motif)
All of the major players and events in The Young Elites are connected in seen and unseen ways. A good example is the death of Adelina’s father. It set off a chain of events that impacted the lives of malfettos and Young Elites across Kenettra. It revealed Adelina to the Inquisition and the Dagger Society, both of which needed her for their own ends. Another would be the unseen thread connecting Teren, Queen Giulietta, and the bane of their existence, the Reaper. How shocking it must have been for Teren and Queen Giulietta when they realize that the leader of the Dagger Society is the queen’s exiled younger brother. Finally, the purging of malfettos in Estenzia and the death of Enzo had reverberating effects that crossed the sea and reached Beldain. As Raffaele tells Adelina, in the world of The Young Elites there are countless threads that connect the world and “give [it] both its color and its life” (Lu 2014 pp. 198).
The Young Elites Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Young Elites is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.