How we cite our quotes:
Cities worked very hard to stay independent of one another, but the Pretty Committee was a global institution that made sure pretties were all more or less the same. It would ruin the whole point of the operation if the people from one city wound up prettier than everyone else. (31.5)
The pretty surgery isn't just about making everyone nice to look at. It's also about making everyone equal in the city—and about making every city equal to the others. (Unlike the real world, where Rome is clearly the prettiest city in the world.) This is why the pretty surgery is so important (says Tally): they need to make people equal so people don't get hurt or angry.
"That's the worst thing they do to you, to any of you. Whatever those brain lesions are all about, the worst damage is done before they even pick up the knife: You're all brainwashed into believing you're ugly." (32.65)
David sounds like Shay here (or maybe Shay sounds like him—maybe he's influenced her ideas of prettiness). For David, the problem isn't just the surgery, but the whole social system that says that pretties are better than uglies. Yeah, that sounds like a pretty big problem to us, too.
"Listen, Tally. That's not what's important to me. What's inside you matters a lot more."
"But first you see my face. You react to symmetry, skin tone, the shape of my eyes. And you decide what's inside me, based on all your reactions. You're programmed to!"
"I'm not programmed. I didn't grow up in a city."
"It's not just culture, it's evolution!" (32.84-7)
This argument goes round-and-round in this book: it's the same argument that Tally and Shay have at the beginning of the book and now David and Tally have it toward the end of the book. Are we culturally or biologically programmed to find certain people attractive? Luckily for us, the fact that they have this conversation (over and over) helps us see the different sides of this argument. Do you agree with David and Shay? Or do you think Tally has a point?