Matched Literary Elements


Young Adult/Dystopian/Romance/Science Fiction

Setting and Context

The book is set in the undisclosed year of a dystopian future, in a totalitarian country known as "the Society" that controls every aspect of its citizens lives -- from the food they eat, to the people they marry, to the day they must die.

Narrator and Point of View

The story is told from the third-person singular perspective of Cassia Reyes, who narrates in present tense.

Tone and Mood

The mood begins as lighthearted and Cassia's tone as comfortable and unrestrained. As her troubles accumulate and inner turmoil escalates, the mood grows darker and tenser and her tone more angry and passionate. By the story's end, when she has fallen into direct conflict with the Society that she used to love, the mood is quite tense, foreshadowing impending, stressful circumstances to come; her tone is hardened and resilient.

Protagonist and Antagonist

Cassia Reyes is the primary protagonist; Ky Markham can be thought of as a secondary protagonist, though the story is not told from his point of view. The antagonist is the totalitarian Society under which they both live, along with the restrictions that it places on them.

Major Conflict

Cassia's glimpse into the possibility of being Matched with more than one boy gives her the potential to choose an aspect of her life for herself. As this is expressly forbidden in the Society, she must keep it a secret; but as her love for Ky, the boy to whom she was not Matched, grows stronger, she risks losing everything she loves -- including Ky himself -- to be with him.


The book's moment of highest tension comes when Ky Markham is escorted from Mapletree Borough in handlocks while his mother screams, causing a scene. Ky's distraught father reveals to everyone that Ky is being taken against his will to fight in a failing war at the Society's borders. Everyone is forced to take the red memory loss tablets to forget what they saw and heard, but Cassia fakes taking one and Xander's doesn't work.


There are many moments of foreshadowing in Matched. Following a visit with her grandfather, just before her relationship with Ky Markham begins, Cassia feels that, like her grandfather, her time is running out. Cassia remarks one day that her friend's maple tree won't last long, referring to its poor health, only to later watch as all of the maple trees in the neighborhood are cut down. Throughout the development of her and Ky's relationship, Cassia constantly makes "not yet" statements about touching him, kissing him, loving him, and so forth, implying the continued escalation of their connection. At the book's end, Cassia holds tight to the words she and Ky shared and the ones he gave to her, expressing that she knows she will see him again, a moment of foreshadowing that leads to the book's sequel.




Cassia makes many allusions throughout the book to the way things were before the Society's totalitarianism. She describes the way in which people became overwhelmed with too much technology, information, and were so unrestricted that they ultimately brought about their own demise. Her forbidden poems are glimpses into that past, glimpses that contrast with the overly orderly way things are in the present. She and the Society use these references to a seemingly terrible past to justify the conditions of the present. She alludes to the stories of angels that people told back when worship was practiced. The ability of angels to fly fascinates her. When she and Ky reach the top of the Hill in Chapter 28, she compares herself to the angels, saying that she feels as though she could fly away as they once did.


Matched boasts many examples of descriptive imagery: the colors green and red, which symbolize artificial and natural growth, respectively; bright colors that contrast with the dull ones around them, like the beautifully colored dresses among the brown plainclothes at the Matching Banquet; the thunderstorm in Chapter 11, when Cassia personifies the raindrops as "slapping" the pavement and "sighing" as they reach the grass (page 131); and the destruction of books at an old library, where Cassia compares their broken bindings to crunching, broken backs.


Perhaps the story's largest paradox is that Cassia pursues a relationship with Ky Markham, to whom she is not Matched, despite the Aberration status that prevents him from being able to have any kind of Match. Even if Cassia were allowed to choose who to Match with, Ky would not, in theory, be a viable option given his legal status.


The biggest example of parallelism is that of relationship between Cassia's parents and the relationship between Cassia and Xander. Cassia continually uses her parents as a point of reference when gauging her dedication to Xander. When she learns that her father is keeping a secret from her mother, for example, she is forced to call their perfect Match into question, and, by extension, her Match with Xander.

At the end of Chapter 6, Cassia observes a foreshadowing parallelism between her fate and her grandfather's fate. In the same way that his time is running short in the face of his impending Final Banquet, she feels that the aspects of her life which have allowed her a typical sense of normalcy have limited time remaining. For her, the appearance of Ky's face signifies a change. Even if she would like to put him out of her mind to focus on her happy Match with Xander, her grandfather's encouragement wonder about him sets an alternate mindset in motion. This parallelism is solidified when Cassia's grandfather reveals the secret paper of poems within her compact just before he dies: just as his time runs out, Cassia's capacity to ever go back to normalcy ends.

Metonymy and Synecdoche



Cassia's Official, who visits with her multiple times throughout the book, is a personification of the Society itself: she begins as placid and comforting when Cassia is stressed, but ultimately turns passively malicious, the cause of all Cassia's troubles. To the last moment, the Official claims to care for Cassia despite all she's done to her, just as the Society claims to care for all its citizens despite subjecting them to undesirable lives.

Ky is a personification of literal aberration, a departure from the system of order that the Society expects each citizen to follow. He refuses to play by the Society’s regulations, e.g. owning an artifact when he shouldn’t, and knowing how to write when it’s prohibited. To Cassia, he personifies freedom, rebellion, and a chance at happiness on her terms.

Xander, on the other hand, personifies the life of obedience and compliance that Cassia has always known. Her Match with him, though chosen for her by the Society, represents the chance for a family, long life, and typical Society-sanctioned happiness.