The Testing

The Testing Symbols, Allegory and Motifs

ceremonial colors

In the Great Lakes Colony, Cia and her family put on different colored ceremonial robes before the graduation ceremony. Now that it is Cia’s graduation day, she gets to wear red just like her mother instead of the pink she wore as a child. Her father and her brothers, all of whom have graduated high school, wear purple. During the ceremony, Cia notices that the magistrate is wearing a rusted red to signify her status as a wise town leader. The colors signify where each colonist is in their life. In some cases like the magistrate, the color denotes social status. Even in the Testing, clothing can take on symbolic weight, like Ryme's yellow dress - connoting liveliness, sickness, and cowardice.

the metal identification bracelets

Each Testing candidate receives a metal bracelet with a symbol engraved on its charm. The symbols each represent what Testing group the candidate belongs in. For Cia, her eight-pointed star with a lightning bolt means that she has skills in many different disciplines. The bracelets, themselves, though, also come to represent both subjugation and personhood. The bracelets are equipped with microphones so that each candidate is monitored at all times - a symbol for the authoritarian grip of the Testing officials. Cia's detection of the microphones and her collection of the bracelets of the fallen candidates connotes both her ingenuity and sense of community.

Ryme’s corncakes

When Cia declines Ryme’s corncakes the first night, she does so out of politeness. However, Cia notices that Ryme keeps offering Cia the corncakes without ever eating one herself. She is reminded of her father’s warning about girls in his class poisoning the other candidates, so she makes sure to keep count of how many corncakes are on the tray. The corncakes represent the desperation that Ryme and other students feel during the Testing. Rather than relying on their own intelligence, many seek to eliminate competition in order to give themselves an edge.

Zeen’s transit communicator

After Cia learns about what horrors await her during the Testing, she knows exactly what she wants to bring: Zeen’s transit communicator. She knows that it is utilitarian in nature with its multiple functions. However, it is also a piece of home that keeps her grounded. With something of Zeen’s, she keeps remembering why she is fighting against the Testing officials in the first place. She needs to keep Zeen and her family safe.

the crossbow killer

Though Cia does not know who the crossbow killer is for the majority of the fourth test, his presence represents someone who is hand-made for the Testing. He is ruthless and cold, and he is willing to do whatever is necessary to win. While the Testing officials believe that this type of person will make a good leader, many of the others like Cia and Michal believe that people like him are too dangerous and self-serving to be an effective leader. Regardless, the presence of the crossbow killer teaches Cia that she must keep her wits about her, as there are people willing to abuse her trust.