Crossed Symbols, Allegory and Motifs

Hyphenated, Compound Words (Motif)

A new feature of Condie’s second book in the Matched series that didn’t appear in the first is her use of hyphenated, compound words. At different points in the story, she refers to plants as “winter-dead” (18), the moonlight as “spilled-white” (53), the dawn as “light-leaking” (59). While not officially hyphenated phrases like “two-year-old” or “state-of-the-art,” these compound words help Condie give more vivid descriptions of the characters' experiences.

Rainbow Fish (Symbol)

The night before he dies, Vick describes the radiance of the rainbow fish he once found. Rather than kill it for food, he considered it a sign that he should ask Laney to Contract with him. The fish can be interpreted as representing his love for Laney and, more generally, a sense of beauty and hope amidst the adversity the Society causes. When Vick is killed in a firing, a rainbow fish is simultaneously killed, signifying an end to Vick and Laney’s relationship and what seems to be the death of beauty and hope at the hands of the Society’s attacks.

Cleansing Rain (Symbol)

Ky experiences a cleansing, or one could even say a baptism, in Chapter 45 when he allows himself to let go of all the pain and hurt he’s been harboring over the course of the book, particularly for the way he ran from his parents’ corpses. The rain acts as a means of cleansing, washing away his guilt and grudge toward himself and enabling him to look past them to a new horizon, one where he accompanies Cassia to the Rising.

Alternating Narration (Motif)

The switching perspectives of Ky and Cassia from chapter to chapter in Crossed serves as a useful literary device. As the story necessarily begins with exposition in two different places, their separate experiences offer the reader an inside look into both of their situations. Additionally, as they come together and begin to experience the same things, we're offered each of their different perspectives on what's happening - for example, when Ky attempts to burn the map to the Rising and Cassia stops him. A single first-person narration would've enabled only one of their inner thoughts and feelings to be expressed; the switching of the narration across multiple chapters allows Ky's guilt and frustration to be expressed as fully as Cassia's confusion and feelings of betrayal.

Compasses (Symbol)

There are two points in Crossed in which Cassia relies on compasses for guidance in atypical ways. When trading with the Archivist, Ky's prized compass serves as a means for Cassia to acquire more information about the rebellion and a lead to find him. Later, in the Carving, Cassia finds a compass that Ky carved from stone and holds tight to it for hope that he might still be alive. In both instances, the compasses symbolically move Cassia toward Ky, invigorating her with hope and motivation, rather than acting as they normally do to provide simple direction.