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by Scott Westerfeld

Uglies Theme of Betrayal

Tally lies a lot, but these aren't simple lies, like telling a teacher, "of course I'm listening" or "I've never heard of Shmoop." Tally's lies are part of her betrayal: she's lying to people who expect the truth from her, both her friends (Shay, David) and her blackmailer (Dr. Cable). Uglies reminds us that you can only betray people who trust you. Whether Tally betrays her friends for her own desires or betrays her own desires to save her friends, betrayal is useful for us because it shows what Tally cares about most.

Questions About Betrayal

  1. Is there a worst betrayal in this book? Is Tally's betrayal of the Smoke worse than her getting in the middle of Shay and David's relationship (at least, insofar as they have one)? Does the book tell us which betrayal is worse?
  2. Do any adults in this book betray others? For instance, when Dr. Cable doesn't tell Tally that the tracker heart pendant will be activated by damage, is that a betrayal? What about Sol and Ellie's advice to Tally to cooperate—is that a betrayal?
  3. Would you define the pretty surgery with its secret brain lesions as a betrayal? Is it a betrayal for Maddy and Az not to tell everyone about the brain lesions?
  4. How do characters respond to betrayal? For instance, how do Shay and David respond to news about Tally's betrayal of the Smoke? What do their different reactions tell us about those characters?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Even when betrayal is accidental, Uglies teaches us that we should feel guilty about it and work to fix our mistakes/betrayals (making betrayal much less fun).

Uglies shows that betrayal hurts everyone, both the betrayee and the betrayer.

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