Reached Summary and Analysis of Part 5, Chapters 31-40

Chapter 31: Cassia

Cassia works on her complex sorting assignment. Many people come and go, and they begin to blur together in her mind. At one point, Cassia thinks she recognizes one of the visitor’s voices, and looks up to see Anna, the leader of Hunter’s village. She introduces herself and says that he wants to see Eli and Hunter. Anna agrees to tell them so. Cassia realizes that Anna’s voice sounds a bit like her mother’s, and writes down the names of the plants Anna says to Rebecca to tell her mother about once she’s cured.

Rebecca gives Cassia a break, so she heads to the infirmary, where she realizes Ky’s nutrient bag is out. She informs a medic, who gets him a new one. Anna comes in to sit with her and Ky. She explains that she once taught Ky’s father to write his own name, which was Sione Finnow. She reveals that Sione helped Patrick Markham trade to get his son out of the Provinces, a fact that shocks Cassia: Matthew Markham was never murdered. Anna explains that Sione did it as an insurance policy: if the worst came to pass (as it did), Ky would have somewhere to live in the Society, where his deployment to the decoy camps could be delayed for a long time. Anna also talks about having to leave her village behind—along with Hunter and her late grandchild, Sarah. She agrees to send Eli and Hunter to see Cassia on Cassia’s next break. When she’s gone, Cassia recites poem for Ky, and tell hims that she loves him. The new nutrient bag improves his condition.

Chapter 32: Ky

Ky regains his senses, but his pain feels deeper, as if the infection has spread. He wishes for Cassia’s voice not to be accompanied by such terrible pain, but acknowledges that life is about taking the bad with the good. He focuses on her and her alone.

Chapter 33: Cassia

Xander comes to retrieve Cassia from her break at Leyna’s request. Outside the infirmary, they talk about Cassia surviving the blue tablet, Xander’s secret being that he’s in the Rising, and Cassia not being immune to the red tablet. She describes much of what happened in the canyons in his absence, including Indie’s love for Xander, which has now switched to Ky. Xander tells her that the end of the message she sent him from Central was cut off. She responds by writing him a poem in the dirt, in which she refers to him as a Physic. They watch the village children play, wishing they could’ve been so carefree as kids.

Cassia has a flashback to a day not long before her grandfather’s Final Banquet. She is with her mother in the Arboretum’s plant nursery, having gotten Bram to school on time. She plans to visit her grandfather before work. While waiting for the air train, she is approached by two strangers who request that she sort something. She refuses until they say that the sort will help her grandfather. Cassia snaps back to reality when Xander asks if she’s alright. They move along as the children continue playing.

Chapter 34: Xander

Xander observes how driven Oker is to find the cure. During one of their mealtimes in the lab, Xander asks about the appeal of the Otherlands. Oker says he plans to stay in Endstone when the others go because of his advanced age. He only wants to find a cure to beat the Society. When Xander reminds him it’s not the Society anymore, Oker argues that the Rising and the Society have become the same thing. Later, in their respective jail cells, Cassia tells Xander that Rebecca thinks Oker favors Xander because Xander reminds Oker of himself. Xander admits to liking the idea of being the Pilot someday.

Chapter 35: Cassia

Cassia’s life in the village becomes very routine. She finds that writing and drawing things helps her better sort text that doesn’t have pictures. She worries that there’s a variable missing because she doesn’t know what everything on the list looks like. Frustrated, she takes her break, and Leyna escorts her to the infirmary. Along the way, they pass two long troughs, which Leyna explains are used for voting. Every villager gets a stone that they place in one of the two troughs to vote during debates. They pass the large stone in the village center, on which columns of names are written, representing those who have died in Endstone, as well as those who have gone on to the Otherlands. Cassia is amazed to see Matthew Markham’s name on the latter list. Leyna explains that everyone walks to the Otherlands, which are extremely far away, which is why no one comes back.

In the infirmary, Cassia relays what she’s learned about Matthew to Ky’s motionless body. Eli comes in and embraces Cassia. Hunter joins them too. Cassia tells Anna about not knowing what many of her sorted items look like. Anna agrees to draw all of the ones she doesn’t know. Cassia thanks Hunter for coming to see Ky, but he exits without a word.

Chapter 36: Ky

In his comatose state, Ky experiences a mental conversation with Indie, who claims to be sick with the mutation and running away, having stolen a ship from the Rising. Ky urges her to go back and stay alive. She says she’s running until she can’t anymore. Ky tells her that she’s the real Pilot, which she seems to have known. He admits to having kissed her back, knowing privately that he provided a certain emotional glue for her that Cassia provides for him. He thinks he can see images of her life, and then everything goes black—“or maybe it was red” (p. 354).

Chapter 37: Xander

Leyna brings Oker a new list from the data sorters. He is uninterested, as he receives many of these, but Leyna insists that he check this one now that Cassia is helping them. After a momentary argument, he does, and then has an epiphany about the plant camassia, which he thinks may prove a promising ingredient in the cure. Leyna is skeptical and offers alternative ideas, but eventually allows Oker to take Xander to gather some fresh. They walk many miles into the woods, using flat stones as markers. They eventually come across a patch of camassia growing and Oker has Xander harvest a sizable portion of it. Oker is impatient, thinking that camassia could be the missing link in the cure.

On the way back, Oker explains that the villagers have known about their immunity to the Plague for years, since a Society pilot escaped his Army base and came to them infected. They exiled him with food and water, after which he died. They quarantined those who came in contact with him, but no one got sick. They then knew they were safe if the Society ever tried to infect them. When the mutation broke out, the Pilot promised cargo holds full of food for the passage to the Otherlands if people would be willing to test their immunity. Oker also reveals that the blue tablets are not poisonous, but a trigger for a dormant version of the Plague that resides in all Society members; while one version of the Plague was used on the Enemy, another was used on the Society’s own citizens to control them.

Back in the lab, Xander and Oker begin turning the camassia bulbs into a cure. They are interrupted, however, when Leyna comes in to inform them that the still who’ve been there the longest have begun dying. They hurry to the infirmary to help. Ky feels as if he’s found a real Pilot in Oker.

Chapter 38: Cassia

Cassia is in the infirmary when the first patient dies of pneumonia. She sings in Ky’s ear to shield him from hearing about it. Xander and Oker rush in to help. Cassia has a sudden vivid flashback to the red-garden day, but still is only able to recall a piece of it. In the flashback, she and her grandfather discuss how a memorable day is sometimes called a “red-letter” or “red garden” day. Her grandfather says that he knows she can get the full memory back. In real time, she swears to herself that she’ll get it all back, as well as find the cure.

Chapter 39: Ky

Ky experiences being in the sea with Indie. They both feel bodiless and free, but Indie says that Ky shouldn’t be there with her. She disappears into the waves.

Chapter 40: Cassia

Anna asks Cassia to come see a voting ceremony: the villagers are going to decide whether to administer Oker’s camassia cure or heed Leyna’s suggestion to administer several different ones. Cassia is busy poring over her data, looking for anything to help Ky, but agrees to go when Anna reveals that she made Cassia a stone with which to cast her vote. She asks Hunter to watch Ky while she’s gone. At the ceremony, Cassia admits to Xander that she isn’t certain at all about the camassia. Xander votes for Oker’s cure, but Cassia saves her vote. Oker’s cure receives the most stones. When Cassia returns to the infirmary, she is horrified to see the nutrient bags unhooked from every patient and draining on the floor. The medics lay unconscious. Hunter has attacked them and removed the bags. Anna rushes in, horrorstruck. Cassia realizes she can only trust Ky and Xander.

Chapters 31-40 Analysis

This set of chapters provides the reader a striking revelation about Matthew Markham. While Cassia and others have believed for years that he was murdered by an Anomaly, as the Society said, his parents actually arranged his passage to the stone villages, where he eventually left for the Otherlands. That they were willing to let him go permanently for the chance at a better life speaks volumes to the love Patrick and Aida Markham had for their son. It also explains why Xander’s father found Patrick Markham wandering the streets one night, blaming himself for what happened to Matthew. Whether Matthew Markham is still alive is one of the many things that both the characters and readers of Reached come to realize they may never know.

An important shared experience occurs between Indie and Ky while Ky is still. Their almost telepathic conversation about Indie being sick and flying until she can’t anymore seems to be Ally Condie’s way of allowing the reader a window into Indie’s fate despite her not being present in the story anymore. That she plans to run until she can’t anymore draws a parallel to the very similar philosophy that Ky held when he felt himself becoming ill; he and Indie have long shared the survivalist instinct to keep moving. Going out by going for as long as she can speaks perfectly to who Indie is as a character.

The pieces of the “red garden day” are slowly coming into clarity now as Cassia pieces them back together in chapters 33 and 38. While Xander and Ky both recall being approached by the Rising at different points in their past, Cassia apparently wasn’t, though her flashback in chapter 33 suggests that perhaps the Rising did seek her help if not her membership among its ranks. Later, in the second flashback, we learn that Cassia’s grandfather refers to a red garden day as a memorable day, suggesting that Cassia’s inability to remember is somehow at work here, perhaps foreshadowing that she was administered a red tablet on the red garden day.

Condie continues to raise the stakes of the villagers’ (and indeed, everyone’s) troubles as the still in Endstone begin dying. If too many of the sick die before a cure can be found, one will hardly be needed, and so the citizens of Endstone will lose their leverage in their bargain with the Pilot for passage to the Otherlands. This greatly increases the plot’s tension, darkens the tone, and motivates everyone involved to work even harder for a cure.

Finally, an important twist occurs when Hunter is revealed to have been the one unhooking Ky’s nutrient bag, as well as those of all the other patients. Why he did this is not yet clear, but it explains Ky’s rising and falling into deeper stillness, as well as the sudden deaths of the still who for weeks had been kept alive by Oker’s treatments. This further thickens the plot as the protagonists are forced to deal with not only Hunter’s bewildering actions, but also the dire consequences that have and may continue to provoke.