Study Guide

Among the Hidden Chapter 19

By Margaret Peterson Haddix

Chapter 19

  • Jen gives Luke armfuls of reading material so he could learn more about the Population Law. And she's not shy with piling on some big thick books.
  • Thanks to some rain, Luke has a lot of time to spend reading in his room. But when his dad surprises him with a game of cards, Luke finds it difficult to suppress what he's been learning.
  • They start talking about Mr. Garner's free time and how money is tight since there aren't any pigs to take care of and no crops in November.
  • Remembering something he's just read, Luke asks if there's a way for his father to grow some crops in the basement. He already knows the answer is yes. But it gets his dad thinking.
  • The card game ends with Mr. Garner deep in thought and Luke wishing that he asked more questions about some stuff he's been reading.
  • Within his mountain of books, Luke learns how a famine drastically reduced the food supply of the world and the Government restricted people to 1,500 calories a day. Sounds great if stranded on a desert island with a volleyball, not so great if you plan on being hungry, like, ever.
  • The Government also took control of all the factories and squashed all junk food production while forcing farmers to relocate to more fertile land.
  • But the most controlling regulation passed by the Government was the Population Law. Fewer mouths to feed means more food for everyone else.
  • Now Luke feels slightly guilty about existing, but he reckons that the food already in front of him can't magically be transported somewhere else, so it's best if he just eats it.
  • Reading the articles from the computer made him feel much better.
  • Not everyone believes that the Population Law fixed everything, one going so far as to say, "forcing children into the shadows can be counted a genocide" (19.29).
  • When Luke questions how the two sources can contradict each other, Jen points out that the Government allowed the books to the printed but couldn't control the articles being written. Thus, the books are filled with government lies.
  • But the fancy schmancy books intimidate Luke. He even wonders if he has a right to say they're wrong.