The prince, freshly of age, is ready to choose his wife in the midst of 35 candidates so she can become his queen. The rule of choosing the female sovereign of Illéa turns to become a casting that takes a girl from every region of the country and commences a battle of who the prince selects.
“The Selection” by Kierra Cass with its setting in a dystopian future brings us many topics that we can share countless opinions on, and with the different characters displayed in this novel we stumble over a myriad of quotes we can relish in.
Since we have analysed quotes from media such as video games and anime, we are now switching over to novels after having read “The Selection”. Hence the spoiler warning for the major events of the first book! You have been warned!
Illéa, as we all know, has its own system that determines the fate of every citizen.
The caste system.
From the moment you’re born, your entire socioeconomic class is ruled by the head of household, unchangeable for most people yet extremely defining in its laws. Who you truly are, where you live and what career you might pursue all lies in the hands of a number.
For many people, the selection is a huge opportunity to escape their caste and become part of the highest of the high: a One.
The royal family and all clerics belong to that caste, and if you want to know more on the entire system and how it works you can read the lore analysis on the caste system here.
With America as the main character of the book, we see everything that happens through her eyes. Her thoughts and presumptions are what leads us towards the conclusion we take throughout the series. Obviously with her being a five, her worldview will change accordingly.
We see this from the beginning, her upbringing in a financially jarring household is the first narrative we are shown before we even get close to the concept of the Selection. More often than not America makes comments that explain more about her livelihood, for example as their family struggles for food and electricity or the reason how the job as a five depends a lot on the seasons.
But despite her struggling financially, America is happy with her profession and actually feels comfortable playing the violin and singing. She is very idealistic and enjoys the company of like minded people. Even though her interests in the beginning of the novel mostly course around Aspen, she is still a carefree person that loves the outdoors and needs her freedom.
Not shaken by politics or strong opinions, America stands her ground for what she believes is right and doesn’t let up, for example when she asked for her maids in the middle of a rebel attack. The wild and reckless girl with a strong voice and tendency for drama is not nervous until she is suddenly cooped up between 34 other girls that all want the prince.
Being homeschooled and rarely in the company of so many girls, especially ones that are of higher castes and strive to be competitive over dresses, jewelry and the prince himself, every little thing that happens in the palace is not up her alley.
“[…]I get confused by walks with princes”, only goes to show that this new situation that America got herself into makes for a new experience that brings her unease that might sound a bit unusual. Since all the other girls are ready to jump whenever the young majesty arrives, the five kind of singles herself out.
But this is only where it gets interesting.
As much as this clash between the stubborn America who doesn’t even want to think about this ‘snobby prince’ and the prince who is actually a lot more heartfelt and dorky, Maxon becomes more human and down to earth the longer America talks to him.
In this instance, “You get confused by crying women[…]”, shows us the side of Maxon that is more relatable to America than his status as her sovereign.
He gets incredibly uncomfortable around crying women. Which to the young selected is a baffling surprise, and her impression of the young man changes quickly.
Speaking of Maxon, with his sophisticated upbringing and charming smile he gets a shocking surprise with America’s wilder side. He is quickly irritated by her behaviour, but never relents on finding out more about her which is another trait that makes Maxon less of a prince and more normal than expected.
With the pressure of being the next ruler of Illéa, speed dating publicly for anyone to see and continuously having to handle the press having eyes on him. Not to mention the fact that rebellious groups keep attacking his home, Maxon truly has a whole different perspective on Illéa than America has.
Still on that day, they both aligned themselves with a quality that transcended their status or their role in society that should have made it impossible for them to relate to each other on a deeper level.
They both get uncomfortable.
Which in a sole sentence sounds like a very minute and unimportant element, yet it is the first moments like these in which America is amused by Maxon’s mannerisms as well as he finds entertainment by her intuitive personality. They both form a pact of friendship instead of being attracted to each other in romantic ways and start to build a relationship that opens both their eyes to new possibilities.
Showing us as a reader that in the end, as much as we think we differ from another person, as much as we believe they will never be like us, we can never know until we get closer to them. How else could the shining prince and the feral entertainer ever see eye to eye?
It is a lesson in how humane we are, and how we can get divided not by our own choosing, but by the way we were raised and taught and through our perspectives. But what if they take away all stereotypes, all assumptions and societal roles?
What remains is the truth of our character, and this is what brought America and Maxon to start their own journey which we will follow until the end.