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Even at the age of fifteen, Day has become a legendary criminal. The Republic is constantly trying to hunt him down, and the Colonies want to recruit him because he pulls off subversive attacks on the Republic without getting caught. He's clever and famous and bold—and no one even knows his real name or what he looks like. He's just a figure that they tell fantastical stories about:
He once torched a whole squadron of fighter jets on an empty airfield in the middle of the night and has on two occasions grounded airships by crippling their engines. He once vandalized the side of a military building. He's stolen money, food, and goods. But he doesn't set roadside bombs. He doesn't shoot soldiers. He doesn't attempt assassinations. He doesn't kill. (1.4.83)
Even though he's a legend and a criminal though, Day is still human. He doesn't want to hurt other people, and he has a conscience and morals (unlike some other characters in this book).
Though he escaped from the Republic and officially left home at the age of ten, Day still remains very close to his family. Even though his mom thinks that he's dead, he steals things and drops them off for his family and communicates with his older brother, John. He's constantly thinking about his family and can't leave the Lake sector (even though it'd be safer for him) because then he couldn't keep an eye on his family. Can you say loyal?
After his mother is killed and he and his brothers are taken into custody, Day doesn't think about saving his own skin. What really matters to him is making sure that his brothers get out okay:
If I can escape, I still have time to save them. I can still use my arms. And I have one good leg. I could still do it… if I only knew where they were… (2.3.36)
Though he's been tortured, interrogated, and sentenced to death, Day's priorities remain the same: he needs to be there for his family. Everything else pales in comparison.
Even in the direst circumstances, and even though he's a street-smart criminal, Day can still put himself in other people's shoes. It would have been easier for him to travel alone, but he ends up taking pity on Tess and bringing her along with him.
And when things are at their darkest—when the Republic has killed his mother and it's clear that June has betrayed his confidence—he doesn't turn immediately to revenge or hatred. Instead he listens to what June has to say. He takes in her apology. And he tries to understand where she's coming from:
Her words are so similar to my thoughts about my mother that I can barely breathe. I didn't know that June had lost her parents—although I should have guessed it from the way she carries herself. June was not the one who shot my mother. She was not the one who brought the plague into my home. She was a girl who'd lost her brother, and someone had led her to believe I did it, and in anguish she had tracked me down. If I'd been in her place, would I have done anything differently? (2.9.24)
Day's compassion sets him apart. He understands why June behaved the way that she did—and because of this, he cannot hold a grudge against her. It is this kindness and compassion that makes June realize that Day is a good person and not just a hardened criminal.
In his compassion, Day also understands the plight of all the poor people in the Republic. He knows that the government isn't doing them any favors, and he recognizes the injustice in the system.
His relationship with June is also an extremely important part of Day's growth. Before meeting June—or realizing that she's an agent of the Republic—Day absolutely hates all government officials. He sees them as rich people with no compassion who just let bad things happen to poor people. But when he meets June, he starts to understand and sympathize with her:
She stares at me, and then seats herself in front of me with her legs folded underneath her. She seems different today. Subdued, maybe, even sad. Uncertain. An expression I've never seen before, even when I first met her on the streets. "Something bothering you?" (2.9.17)
Day finds that he can understand June—and that he can see parts of himself in her. In June he also finds a real equal, since they both are the prodigies of the Republic and had perfect score on their Trials. They match each other intellectually and emotionally.
There's something sneaky tucked into this book, and that's the fact that Day's real name is Daniel. While at first glance this might make us all think that his nickname symbolizes his potential to bring about a metaphoric dawn of a new day, when we consider the fact that his two brothers are named Eden and John (be sure to check out their analyses, too), we can't help but think of the Bible. And if Eden ties into Genesis and John ties into John the Baptist, then Daniel must tie into the Book of Daniel in the Hebrew Bible.
And Daniel in the Hebrew Bible connects pretty nicely with our main man in Legend. They're both good eggs through and through, excellent at finding and following their own moral compasses and resisting temptation. And they're also both visionary. Sure Daniel in the Hebrew Bible has like, actual visions, but Day is a guy with his eye to the future, someone who thinks the world is worth fighting for because someday it can be different—and that's pretty visionary in its own right, don't you think?
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