The Testing

The Testing Imagery

Cia’s father’s nightmare

The first time Cia gets a sense of what the Testing will be like is when her father recounts his nightmare to her. Hearing explosions and seeing his dead classmates among the rubble seems out of place for a college entry test, but this stark contrast of what Cia was expecting reflects a new and unpleasant image of the government and the measures it takes with its citizens.

Tosu City and its inhabitants

Tosu City, the capital of the United Commonwealth, is a beautiful city with glimmering buildings and bright lights that burn constantly. It is viewed by the citizens as the hopeful symbol of mankind's survival of the Seven Stages of War. However, Cia and Tomas notice that the city’s inhabitants contrast its opulence. The people on the streets are poor, dirty, and hungry. This contrasting imagery is representative of the class divide that is present in this dystopian future. While a few people are living wealthy lifestyles, most are slumming through the city, trying to make it through each day without starving.

the human creatures

When Cia and Tomas come across the hulking creatures in the cityscape, Cia already knows that they are in some way human. The way they are described as hunched and animal-like does not sway Cia’s opinion, as she can see in their eyes a human intelligence that makes them similar to her. They are the only people that Cia kills in the novel, yet their mutated form does not mitigate Cia’s belief that she has murdered innocent people. They represent the effects of war on the innocent inhabitants, and Cia's moral dilemma.

the rubble maze

The rubble maze the candidates' encounter in the fourth round of testing is a striking image - a puzzle trap built from the ruins of war. The maze communicates both the destructive force of the war, and the manipulation of the Testing officials. Lined with traps, Cia and Tomas must choose the best way out of the maze while defending against other candidates and man-made obstacles. The twisting maze connotes the mental as well as physical aspects of the Testing.