Study Guide

Matched Courage

By Ally Condie

Courage

"I wouldn't take that tablet, Cassia. Not for a report. And perhaps not ever. You are strong enough to go without it." (10.100)

Cassia's certainly strong enough not to take a pill every time she feels a little bit nervous. But we hope Grandfather isn't implying that taking necessary medicine is a sign of weakness—we think it sometimes takes strength to accept help when we need it.

It's hard to know which ways to be strong. (12.33)

This is one of the essential questions Cassia wrestles with—does she show her courage by fighting for what she wants, or by denying herself what she wants to protect those she loves? Let's be honest, we're all pretty clear by this point which choice she's going to make.

Then, the question I asked myself was: Do I look pretty? Now, the question I ask is: Do I look strong? (18.54-55)

Courage wasn't something that even occurred to Cassia to strive for a few months back. It's kind of like her role model changed from Cinderella to Joan of Arc.

I realize that in seeing the missing tablet, I haven't seen an example of her weakness but of her strength. (21.17)

It's an interesting contradiction that Cassia's mom's taking the green tablet is a sign of courage, while Cassia's abstaining is also a sign of courage. Cassia realizes for the first time that people can show their bravery in different ways.

It must also be difficult to keep inside, to not share with us. But she is strong and she keeps the secrets because it protects us. (21.17)

Cassia's mom courageously keeps secrets to protect her family, even though she wrestles with the guilt of whether she's made the right decision. While not on the same scale, we've probably all grappled with the difficult choice of whether keeping or telling a difficult secret is the best way to protect someone.

I'm still stronger than they are. But not strong enough to burn the last bit of Ky's story before reading it. (22.63)

Cassia cites an example of her feelings for Ky being her weakness. Is her love a weakness, a strength, or both? We're curious because throughout the book, as her love for Ky grows, Cassia seems to grow stronger as well.

His life will be better. I could be the one to change that for him. And suddenly that desire, the desire to help him, is even stronger than my selfish desire to keep him close. (26.56)

There's a pattern to Cassia's courage—she is strongest and bravest when overriding her own best interests to protect those she loves. For this reason, it seems that her love may actually be her strength, rather than her weakness.

What would Grandfather think of the jump I'm taking? Would this be the one time he would tell me to hang on to the edge with all my might? Would he say to cling to the side of the board until my fingers became bloody and scraped? Or would he say that it was all right to let go? (27.124)

Cassia poses an interesting question here: What would Grandfather think of Cassia's choices? What is the courageous choice here? We don't know about you, but we're pretty sure Grandfather would be proud of the choices Cassia's made—she's found her own words, just as he asked her to do.

You are strong enough to go without it, Grandfather told me about the green tablet. But, Grandfather. Am I strong enough to go without you? Without Xander? (27.137-138)

Cassia's questions foreshadow the fact that she's eventually going to have to go it alone if she continues her path of resistance and rebellion. Whether or not she has the courage remains to be seen.

"The real gift is a bunch of blue tablets." […]

He knows I'm going to try to find Ky. And he's helping me. In spite of everything, Xander hasn't betrayed me. (31.41-42)

In perhaps the most amazing show of courage, Xander risks his life to help the girl he loves find the boy she loves. How many of us can say we'd do the same? Xander's actively fighting against his own self-interest and risking his life by helping Cassia escape, and that may be the ultimate act of love and bravery.

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