Study Guide

Pressia Belze in Burn

By Julianna Baggott

Pressia Belze

Forgive And Forget?

Pressia has a good heart. She believes in love. She believes in forgiveness. She believes in the goodness of humanity. She believes in happiness. She believes in the Pures and the wretches living in unity, and that one day she'll be able to walk in the academy baseball fields.

Oh, Pressia. When will you learn?

Honestly, when it comes down to it she should listen to what Bradwell has to say about the Pures:

"How many times are you going to forgive? How many times are you going to fall into the trap of thinking we can reason with them? They're murderers." (21.39)

We have the sneaking suspicion that part of Pressia's optimism and willingness to forgive comes from kind of a dark, insecure place. She wants to live in harmony with the Pures—she wants to become a Pure herself. But what she doesn't realize is that she's been Pure all along on the inside. Her mindset when she enters the Dome is:

Pressia wants to see the boys' and girls' academies with ball fields, the apartment buildings with tidy rooms and bunk beds, the fields and food and fake sun and light and no cold, no suffering, no absolute darkness. (42.24)

Pressia places the Dome on a pedestal, making it the most magnificent place she's ever seen. In reality though, the Dome is just as bad as the outside. The food isn't really food; they eat soytex pills, often masked in things like cupcakes. The fake sun and light and lack of cold might seem desirable, but as Lyda illustrates, the artificiality is what drives people crazy sometimes. Sure, climate control can be nice from time to time, but nature keeps us sane. It keeps things truly beautiful.

Pressia's optimism hinders her from seeing that there really is suffering in the Dome. In fact, Lyda sheds light on the Pures' suffering to Pressia:

"You go around thinking that it's not fair that the wretches have to live out there. But I know that it's not fair that the Pures have to live in here—behind glass, battling around in our little fake world. If the Dome fell, it would be a mercy—not for the wretches, but the Pures." (55.8)

Believing in fairytales and having an inclination for forgiveness makes Pressia a very benevolent character, but it also makes her a gullible character.

Hopeless Romantic

Pressia's even optimistic when it comes to love. In fact, she's a hopeless romantic… which can translate to some pretty severe neediness. When Bradwell doesn't look at her, it drives her bananas:

"We know despair," Pressia says. "It's something we all have in common." Her eyes cut to Bradwell, but he still won't look at her. (8.60)

This romantic nature seems to spring from the same well of self-doubt as her optimism concerning the Dome and the Pures. She constantly worries about Bradwell—whether he likes her, whether he's thinking about her, and whether he thinks she's doing the right thing

She does experience a fleeting moment of happiness, when she and Bradwell get married in the woods in a very unofficial marriage ceremony. When they marry, she thinks:

This is what happy feels like—it doesn't have to be about this moment. Happiness can be a promise. (31.61)
Unfortunately, her happiness is about to meet a screeching halt. Bradwell plans to become a martyr, and Pressia is destined to become a very young widow. And when that happens, she's devastated:

Pressia can't breathe. She can't cry. Bradwell is dead. He knew that he was going to die. (64.155)

Yeah. That sucks.

The Leader

But don't worry: Pressia's not just a hopeless optimist and romantic. She's got more grit than a gravel pit. Pressia's still the main protagonist, the heroine, and the leader in this trilogy. She's the one who infiltrates the Dome, and she's also the one to absolutely sticks it to Partridge when she finds him:

"I don't care about finding a quiet place," Pressia says, and she heads into the crowd. (42.99)

That's Pressia all over: she's take charge, and she doesn't stand on ceremony. To sum up how Pressia's a leader above all else, we should look at how she got the Dome throughout the trilogy. Let's go over some of the steps:

  1. She escapes OSR and saves a Pure from being killed.
  2. She finally finds her mother and her half-brother, only to see them killed before her very eyes.
  3. After staying up for days doing research, she figures out how to find a formula that can help purify everyone.
  4. She helps steal an airship (which has never been done before), finds the formula, and then take it back (along with a bacterium) to her homeland.
  5. She infiltrates the Dome and eventually sends word out to the wretches to take it down.
    Oh yeah: and this girl is only sixteen years old. Dang, Pressia.

When we think about everything she's gone through, her optimism and romantic nature seem almost superhuman: how is she not jaded?

Perhaps because of this unique combination of strength and warmth, Pressia instills hope in others. She gives El Capitan a reason to fight and be good, and she gives Bradwell hope for finding the truth. Her spirit alone is the leading reason why the gang is able to take down the Dome. And despite the atrocities she's been through, she still moves forward:

Her heart beats and beats and beats—each time like a detonation in her own chest—and every moment from here on out is a new world. (64.263)

Now that's something we want to see out of a leader. Her heart never ceases its beating, and each negative can be transformed into a positive. We leave you with this closing quote to remind you of how Pressia Belze's mindset can teach us a thing or two about being a leader:

She's lost too much […] But her heart beats in her chest and keep beating. It beats her back to life. Her own heart will not surrender. And so this isn't the end. This is only another start. (64.248)

Yep. It's worth a few moments of over-optimism and moony-eyed romanticism if you can reach the other side of a battle with such an awe-inspiring outlook on life.