Crossed Literary Elements


Young Adult, Dystopian, Romance, Science Fiction

Setting and Context

A dystopian future in a totalitarian country referred to only as the Society. Having been separated from one another by the Society's manipulative measures, Ky Markham finds himself as a decoy on a warfront, fighting to stay alive, while Cassia Reyes has intentionally signed up for a work detail that gives her a better chance of escaping to the outskirts of the Society to reunite with him.

Narrator and Point of View

The book has two narrators that alternate by chapter: Cassia Reyes and Ky Markham, the two main characters, both of whom narrate in first person and in the present tense.

Tone and Mood

The tone and mood of Crossed shifts not only as the story progresses, but also between scenes in which Cassia and Ky each narrate. Cassia generally maintains a more hopeful (albeit more naive) tone, whereas Ky is frequently downtrodden and realistic, seeing dark things for what they are rather than idealizing them. In the book's beginning, when the two are separated, Ky's pessimism is particularly apparent. Cassia, on the other hand, speaks with a sense of urgency, as she desires to find him. When they are searching for one another in the Carving, this urgency continues, albeit interrupted periodically by the panic or monotony that comes with exploring the canyons. When Ky and Cassia reunite, the tone calms a bit as the focus shifts to their loving relationship. This is temporary, however; as they find Hunter, the Cavern, and ultimately the Rising, a generally more urgent mood and tense tone are set by both narrators.

Protagonist and Antagonist

The main protagonists are Cassia Reyes and Ky Markham. The main antagonist is the dystopian government known as the Society that seeks to control their lives and free will.

Major Conflict

Crossed features two major conflicts, one of which is temporarily resolved partway through the story. Ky and Cassia's separation is the more immediate problem set up during the exposition, a conflict that puts them in terrible danger as they seek one another out in the barren, dangerous Carving, but the larger issue is the dystopian Society that prevents them from being together. Ky and Cassia reunite around halfway through the book (Chapter 22) and thus the conflict of their separation is briefly resolved, though they end the story once again in different places. The problem of the totalitarian government that seeks to control them, however, remains very much at large throughout the story, and there are many aspects that foreshadow greater attempts at fighting to resolve it in the series' final book.


The book's climax comes when Indie and Cassia travel down the stream, out of the Carving, and finally reach the Rising, the opposition that they hope will allow them to fight against the Society's totalitarianism.


As the central color theme of each book in the trilogy is green, blue, and red respectively, there are many moments in which red is used to foreshadow events to come in the final book, Reached. For example, Cassia learns that Xander's favorite color is red and not green, hinting at the greater role he will come to play. Ky also paints Cassia wearing a red dress on a cave wall in Chapter 44, symbolizing the conclusion of her character transformation from unassuming Society member to Rising rebel.

Cassia’s statement that “it will all come clean” (337) in Chapter 48 can be interpreted as a larger foreshadowing of Crossed’s final chapters when she, Indie, and Ky join the Rising, as well as the trilogy’s final book, where the country may be washed clean of the Society, a metaphor that compares the totalitarian government to filth in need of removal.

Finally, the book concludes with a foreshadowing from Cassia, who observes that the natural beauty of the frost will "too soon vanish" (376). This could be interpreted one of several ways. The chill of the frost disappearing could represent the cold grip of the Society loosening as the Rising takes it down. The beauty of the frost dying could also symbolize great loss to come. In either case, the statement hints at impending change, reinforcing the cliffhanger on which Condie leaves the reader before the events of the trilogy's final book unfold.






Chiefly, Ally Condie employs red, green, and especially blue imagery in Crossed. Red is used to describe bloodshed and the earth of the desert. It is also implemented as a foreshadowing tool when Ky paints Cassia in a red dress near the book's end, among other instances. Green is used primarily in recollection as Cassia remembers the green of the Hill on which she and Ky fell in love and the green of her Matching Banquet dress, back before she was awakened to the evils of the Society. Finally, blue plays the largest role in Crossed's imagery, used to describe the water of the canyon stream, the sky reflected in Vick's dead eyes, the tubes of tissue samples in the Cavern, and the blue lines along the farmers' arms. Other, unspecific moments of imagery include Cassia comparing the Carving and the inside of the Earth to the bones inside her body that she learned of in school, as well as her comparison of being like a butterfly "with blind eyes and sticky wings" (242) in a closed cocoon when she's stuck in the tunnel leading into the Cavern.


Ky has established himself throughout the Matched series as one to lay low, to lose even when he could win, and to never show up on anyone’s radar, especially the Society’s. The one exception to this, though, occurred when he fled into the Carving to find Cassia. This was paradoxical to his character thus far, as it demonstrates a specific desire to stand out and go against the grain, proof that Cassia causes behavior in him that he would otherwise try to avoid.


Ky observes strong parallels between Eli and Cassia’s younger brother, Bram. Not only are they similar in appearance, though Eli’s skin is darker and his hair shorter, but Eli is spunky and outspoken the way Ky knew Bram to be. Ky feels protective of Eli for these reasons, knowing that Cassia would want someone like Bram safe. His protection of Eli parallels Cassia’s affection and protectiveness over Bram.

In Chapter 6, Cassia draws parallels between the way the Officials come to recruit Aberrations from their work site in the early dawn and the way they came for Ky at the climax of Matched. There is a measure of irony in the way that Cassia is ultimately shipped off on an air ship exactly the way he was, heading for the Outer Provinces (except that when Ky went, it was by force, whereas Cassia goes on her own terms).

Metonymy and Synecdoche

The phrase “the Society” is used throughout the Matched series to refer to both the totalitarian government under which Cassia and the others once lived as well as its general population. It never refers to any one body, person, or place, but rather the general dystopian country and its many parts. An example of this is when Hunter refers to the walls of one of the canyon and says, “It’s not a particularly technical climb. Even the Society could do it if they tried” (235). In the same way, "the Rising" is used to represent the Society's organized opposition, both its specific members and the entity as a whole.


In many ways, Eli personifies youth and innocence in the desolate Carving and the larger war between the Society and its opposition. His naivete and vulnerability remind the reader that not all those who are affected by the Society are mature and strong; yet that he has experienced all that he has and is still able to survive in the canyons with the others shows the Society's inability to crush his youthful spirit and personifies the futility of its efforts for total submission.