Study Guide

Legend Setting

By Marie Lu

Setting

Los Angeles, California, Republic of America

Legend takes place in a setting that's both familiar and completely foreign. In the Los Angeles of the future, the United States of America no longer exists. Instead the Western (former) United States is now controlled by a totalitarian state called, unoriginally, the Republic of America. Instead of freedom and equality, the new America is one where kids are denied higher education, poor people are forced to work in coal mines until they die, and the government does sketchy biological testing on its citizens.

Ruins of older buildings dot the lake, buildings abandoned by business owners and residents when the floodwaters rose. Giant waterwheels and turbines churn along the water's edge behind veils of smoke. (1.9.4)

The Los Angeles that Day and the rest of the people in poor sectors know is one that isn't a pretty sight. It's grimy and depressing and filled with people who are just trying to make ends meet. The elite are of course shielded from this grim truth. In the new Republic, the class divisions are even more pronounced than before—rich people seem to live in one reality that is completely disparate from that of normal citizens.

I don't see what the big deal is, though. I've worn nicer dresses before, and this one feels too modern and lopsided. This dress could've bought a kid in the slum sectors several months' worth of food. (2.2.9)

The setting seems to be a commentary on the economic divide; there's a huge difference between the haves and have-nots in Legend. People like Thomas may say that it's because poor people are lazy and don't work hard enough, and that the rich deserve everything that they get, but it isn't true. Just like in today's world, there's the myth that if you just work hard enough, you can achieve the American dream—you can go to the top schools and become a celebrated member of the government. But it turns out that even people who deserve it, like Day, are stepped all over by the elite class.

It's obvious that in this setting, everyone has to have a dog-eat-dog mentality. No one's going to look out for you, least of all the government, so everyone needs to watch their backs to make it out alive.