"But what does it mean, anyway, that my father was a pigeon-toed quarterback if I don't remember him? What is a beautiful mother worth if you can't see her face in your head? (1.24)
If you can't remember something, did it really happen? If a tree falls alone in a forest, does it make a noise?
"I don't remember. I was a kid." But Partridge remembers blue pills. (2.62)
Remembering certain snippets can sometimes be all you need to form a memory. And sometimes those snippets form the most important part of the memory.
"We have to remember what we don't want to," he tells them. (5.27)
Repressing something from your memory is nearly impossible, which is why Bradwell's proclamation here is powerful. He's basically saying that what doesn't kill us makes us stronger.
They want to erase us, the past, but we can't let them. (5.39)
It's almost as if the people inside the Dome want to pretend that the Detonations didn't happen. But the wretches have a different opinion about it. To them, the Detonations are the most life-altering event of the past.
The particles soon and rise, reminding him again of something else from his childhood, but he can't think of what—something like snow? (10.45)
One of the most crucial aspects of memory is how it can elicit a tactile sensation. We've already seen a few examples of trying to remember a certain moment, but actually feeling the moment is totally different.
"The past is all we've got here," she says, picking up her pace a little. (17.28)
But maybe it's not. Maybe Pressia should be thinking more about the present.
Although her memories are brightly colored, crisp, sometimes tactile—like she can almost feel the Before—she can never quite express those sensations. (17.26)
The tricky thing about memory is that you never feel fulfilled unless you can grasp the whole memory. And even if you can, it's almost impossible to describe in full.
Partridge doesn't say anything at first. Maybe he's flooded with memories, too, or he's wondering if he should invent some story for her, the way her grandfather did. Doesn't he want to be able to fill in her lost childhood, like a real brother could? (39.31)
Memory is highly individual; you can't have someone "fix" your memory. The best we can do as is try to remind someone of certain experiences… but if they can't remember, then sometimes the memory is just lost.
She wants to tell her everything that she's been holding on to—her memories like beads of a necklace. (52.47)
Pressia reveres both the memories she knows are factual and the ones that she's less certain of. This is one of the things we love about her: she holds on to the past when other people are keen to forget it.
She feels unsteady, as if standing in the rocking boat. She hears her father saying, "The sky is a bruise. Only a storm will heal it." (59.97)
Foreshadowing? Maybe? Memories like this are a great way to tell us what might happen in the next book.
The people in the Dome are lucky, playing their buckled-helmet sports, eating cake, all connected and never feeling lit flecks of swirling ash. (1.38)
Let them eat cake! Do you think the people outside the Dome hate those inside out of envy, or a sense of injustice?
[…] But in everyday chatter the survivors outside the Dome are called "Wretches." He's heard his father use this term many times. And Partridge has to admit; he's spent a lot of his life hating the wretches for taking his mother down with them. (2.66)
Have you ever hated someone or something just because you were told to? Say, a certain sports team or rivals from a neighboring town? That's how Partridge feels. Since he's been told that the people outside the Dome are evil monsters, that's what they are in his mind. Plus, "wretches" is a pretty hateful term.
Burn a Pure and breathe the ash.
Take his guts and make a sash.
Twist his hair and make a rope.
And use his bones to make Pure soap. (3.6)
Creepy. Uncanny. Scary. Unsettling. If you ever hear someone singing a song like this, we'd suggest you run.
He hates OSR, which he sees as feeble, weakened by their own greed and evil, incapable of taking down the Dome or effecting any real change. "Just another corrupt tyrant," he says. (5.22)
Poor OSR; no one likes them. Bradwell's hate for them is just another example of how there really is just an infinite amount of animosity in the world they live in. Not only does he hate the Dome, but he hates the OSR too. So really: who does he like?
They let the soldiers form tribes for twenty-four-hour periods so they can kill people, carry their bodies to a circle staked out in an enemy's field, tallying the dead for points. Those with the most win. (11.12)
Hmm, hunting humans? This brutal quote exposes the dehumanization people will often resort to when they dislike a certain people.
"One day we'll take them down." His voice goes soft. "That's all I want, really. I'd like to kill one Pure before I die. Just one." (23.39)
Sometimeswhen things aren't going right, you just want to find a consolation prize that. El Capitan just wants to kill a Pure. That's it. We should be asking ourselves right now: why is this so important to him? What will this solve?
The thing is—they could save them all, but they won't. (28.61)
Cynicism is another form of hate that a lot of the characters exhibit throughout the book. Bradwell, in particular, channels his hate for the Dome through his own pessimistic beliefs. No one in the Dome can be good… even if they have the capability to be good.
"Deaths do not speak to Our Good Mother unless addressed!" (37.38)
Okay, so we get that you don't like men, but "Deaths?" That's a pretty harsh nickname.
"Out of the Dome?" It's a death sentence. She won't be able to breathe the air. She'll be attacked. The wretches will rise up, rape her, and kill her. Outside the Dome, the trees have eyes and teeth. The ground swallows girls who have any bit of their human shape left. They are burned alive at stakes and feasted on. (42.53)
Just like how Pressia thinks about how the Pures all eat cake and play sports, this is what Lyda thinks about the wretches. And even though she's partially right about what might happen to her, we can't help but feel like she's being a bit hyperbolic here.
"Your father was going to release this biosynthesizing nanotechnology purposefully […] just to create a subhuman class, a new order of slaves, to serve them in New Eden once the earth was rejuvenated." (54.18)
This is just… evil. Hunting people for sport: definitely dehumanization. Making them into slaves? Just as bad. What a bleak world these people live in.
"Your mother has always been problematic." (2.73)
Ah, the importance of tenses. Notice how Ellery says, "has been," instead of "had been" or "was." Because of the tense he uses, Partridge (and the reader) can infer that Partridge's mother is still alive.
She doesn't want to think of the word memento because it reminds her that she might soon be gone, but there it is in her mind. Memento. (3.53)
If you're trying not to think about something, that usually means that you're thinking about that very thing. Pressia doesn't want to think of herself as a memento, but because she doesn't want to think about the word, it sticks in her head.
The pink fibers break loose and stream past him into the fans and he thinks of the word confetti. (10.54)
Why all the emphasis on random words? Well, for a lot of the characters in Pure, a lot of words and the meanings behind those words are lost in their memories. Partridge can't describe what it would be like to get chopped up to pieces, but when the word confetti comes to mind, we as the reader think: "Ugh. That's a pretty violent way to die."
"I've spent years teaching myself Japanese […] This means "my" […] And this is a word that I would know anywhere. It means "phoenix." (23.89)
If Bradwell didn't know how to speak Japanese, then do you think Partridge would have been able to solve his mother's riddle?
"Ah," Ingership says with a wink. '"Little secret. Gotta keep something up my sleeve!" Pressia doesn't understand why he'd keep anything up his sleeves. (29.53)
Ever heard an idiomatic phrase and thought, "What on earth do you mean?" but then just go along with it? That's what it would be like if you were a wretch talking to someone inside the Dome, or to a high-ranking OSR member.
It's been so long since she was mannered, she's not sure if she'd said the right thing or not. (29.20)
Language in the farmhouse scene is so important. What if Pressia said or did something wrong? Body language, as well as spoken language, can be a major factor in an interaction. And for Pressia, making one wrong move could result in death.
"I've got connections," Ingership says. "Oysters on the half shell. They're an acquired taste." Acquired taste? Pressia isn't sure what the term means, but she loves it. (29.28)
Again, the language boundary that exists between Pressia's world and the world of the Dome further alienates the two regions.
And then Pressia remembers the word. "Chandelier," she says. A beautiful word. How could she have forgotten it? When she sees her grandfather again, she'll whisper the word in his ear. Chandelier. Chandelier. Chandelier. (30.108)
Why does Pressia remember this word, and why do we care? And why do people keep thinking of random words? Our best guess is that Pressia and other characters gain some kind of satisfaction for remembering certain words because it reminds them of their past.
Pressia looks out the window, lifts her doll-head fist ever so slightly, and rocks it back and forth, like the shaking of a head. Is the doll speaking for her? (31.22).
Secret language is always present throughout the book. Here, Pressia uses her doll to speak for her, and that's pretty similar to how the Swan Wife Story speaks for Aribelle. Silent communication is one of the only ways in which the wretches are able to hold power and secrecy.
And this time, Helmud doesn't repeat his brother's final words. His silence means yes (55.36).
The power of not saying anything: the silent treatment. Not only is Helmud's silent treatment hilarious, but it says a lot about him in general. This kid only speaks when he wants to.
People often think Partridge knows more than everyone else. He's Ellery Willux's son. (2.11)
Partridge isn't smart. He isn't athletic. He isn't popular. But people still think he knows more than anyone else. Why? Because his father holds power.
It dawns on her that if she's heard of Bradwell, OSR has to know that he exists. (5.21)
Bradwell has the idea that OSR thinks he is dead, but Pressia knows he's wrong. No privacy outside of the Dome = no power. The power is all in the hands of the Dome and OSR.
She's his guide and she doesn't want to tell him too much because she wants him to rely on her, to need her, and maybe to become indebted. (16.81)
Pressia knows that having Partridge rely on her gives her control over him. He may be richer and more physically fit, but he's still basically in the palm of Pressia's hand.
Sometimes Ingership orders El Capitan to play The Game, letting one of the weak recruits loose so El Capitan can hunt the recruit down like a sick deer. (18.18)
Not only does El Capitan have dominion over the weak recruits, but Ingership has dominion over El Capitan. Even the most powerful figures in Pure are under someone else's thumb.
This uniform makes her feel solid, protected. She's part of an army. She has backup. (25.2)
Protection can go a long way in a post-apocalyptic world, and so can the safety of numbers.
"Pressia Belze will understand the message we're sending. It might help to convince her to refocus her loyalties. You can tell her that's all we have left." (42.86)
What's in the box? Here is one of the most sadistic parts of the whole book; Ellery knows that most of Pressia's hope is still alive because her grandfather is still alive. So what does he do? He sends a piece of her grandfather to her. It's almost like a form of blackmail.
Bradwell, Pressia, El Capitan and his brother— these are his friends now, his own herd. (49.4)
Power is almost impossible to hold alone; that's why having a solid group of friends can take you a long way. Did you expect Partridge to find his mother by himself? Ha—right. The kid can't even figure out a riddle.
"They've got a switch that they can flip, and if they do, her head will explode" […] Partridge realizes that he still fights the idea that humans are capable of such evil. (49.39)
Pressia is pretty much powerless—and hopeless—at this point. You can't blame her though: she does sort of have a remote-controlled bomb in her head.
The soldiers look anxious; they keep their eyes on Ingership and El Capitan, unsure who might bark an order at them next (59.28).
Stuck in a sticky situation? Feel like there's no right answer? That means you have no power. Checkmate.
Bradwell is so big and loud, and she's not sure how, but she feels like she's gotten at him somehow. (17.173)
Here's another example of how Pressia uses her mental strength to overcome a physically stronger individual. Just because Bradwell's big, that doesn't mean he's invincible. Think about that study question again: is it better to have mental or physical strength?
But still, now she has to scavenge. Kepperness was right. Her grandfather isn't well. He won't last […] She has to make as many creatures as she can so that he can use them to barter with and survive. She presses on. (3.43)
Keep calm and carry on, Pressia. Pressia takes on the role of the head of the household here, which pretty much embodies the whole mindset of outside the Dome.
"I'll give it to my son. He won't last long […] This will brighten him up some." (3.35)
This man buys a toy for his dying son. Wow, that's depressing. But touching, don't you think?
She has to go. But before she does, she draws a circle, then two eyes and a smiling mouth with her finger in the ash collected on the cabinet door. She wants it to mean, I'll be back soon. (11.50)
Some might see this as a release of Pressia's childish side, but it seems more like this is a symbol of hope. Even while facing evil she can still stay upbeat. That's not childish. That's just strong.
She wants to cry, but backhands the tears. She doesn't want anyone to see. Keep at it, she thinks to herself. Keep at it. (22.49)
Holding back tears and emotions is one of the hardest things to do. Lyda's perseverance in the mental hospital almost parallels some the perseverance seen outside the Dome. Hope might seem lost for her, but she still "keep[s] at it."
Only now she has hope—real hope—that she might actually meet her mother one day. (39.18)
The book often suggests that there's a difference between manufactured hope and real hope. Real hope is limitless, but manufactured hope has boundaries.
"We've gotten this far," Partridge says.
"Maybe we'll get lucky," El Capitan says. (47.34)
Luck is another way to persevere in rough times. Though El Capitan isn't always the most hopeful, he always puts his trust in luck.
"The fact that his heart is beating helps to keep me alive." (53.23)
Aribelle's body is ravaged, her kids are gone, and her lover is lost. Yet, the simple fact that she knows they're alive helps her stay alive.
"That would be like hiding the truth. My body is the truth. It's history." (54.23)
Embracing their scars is another way that people outside of the Dome keep calm and carry on. Turning a negative into a positive can be a tremendous strength, and the wretches will find any way to gain an advantage.
The truth is that Helmud's weight hasn't only made him stronger. It's kept him pinned to the earth, as if without Helmud, he'd have floated clean off the planet by now. (59.98)
Helmud might be fused to his back, but El Capitan needs him. Relationship, company, and a sense of togetherness: all important ingredients to maintain hope.
And life resumes because it has to. (59.125)
Sure, maybe life seems unfair. Maybe it seems hopeless. But it "has" to go on, because there's no other alternative.
She pulls her inner-layer sweater up to cover her neck, then her stretched-out sweater sleeve down over her doll-head fist, still covered by the sock, tucks it under her other arm, and then crosses both arms on her chest. (3.50)
It's like a baseball player spitting in his batting gloves in between pitches, or like a student using the same #2 pencil for every test. Pressia is performing a ritual here.
"Because what I said was the truth. Shadow History. This isn't." (5.65)
For Bradwell, Shadow History is what he believes in. That's right, you can put faith into history too.
"Thats probably what they pray for. Hope." (17.244)
Again, you don't need to be religious to pray. The simple act of praying for hope is how many of the wretches are able to survive; without hope, their spirits could be crushed.
He's dealing in dangerous ideas, throwing around God and sin to benefit the powerful because he wants to be more powerful. (30.53)
Pressia makes a pretty good point: just because you can throw around words like God and religion, that doesn't make what you're saying good. In fact, Ingership is just trying to manipulate her.
"The Dome is good. It watches over us like the benevolent eye of God." (30.52)
Psssh, yeah right. Preaching spirituality doesn't always work, folks. Especially if it's in favor of a corrupt regime.
Her doll-head fist, already blackened by ash, stares at her. She used to talk to it when she was little, and she was sure that the doll understood her. (36.7)
This is nothing short of spiritualizing her doll. Oftentimes loneliness can be cured by giving human qualities to an object.
"Saint Wi," she whispers, as if it's the beginning of a prayer. And what does she want to pray for? (36.7)
You don't need to be religious to pray to God or a Saint. Sometimes you just need to put faith into something.
"Is she still a saint? She cheated on your father," Pressia says. "She had a child out of wedlock, a bastard." (40.13)
So what's the real difference between Saint in the religious context, and Saint in a non-religious context? And does it even matter?
Always walk in the light. Follow your soul. May it have wings. You are my guiding star, like the one that rose in the east and guided the Wise Men. (40.26)
Spiritual guidance can sometimes invoke a greater hope than other inspirations. "Follow your soul" is not only motivational, but can instill confidence. If only Aribelle had just spelled out the riddle to Partridge a little more.
Pressia thinks of Saint Wi and Bradwell there in the crypt, kneeling before the small statue behind the cracked plexiglas. Hope. (53.29)
Yup, Bradwell was actually religiously spiritual. But let's all just take a moment to understand what spirituality means for the characters: it's a way to create hope, faith, and confidence.
Girls don't get coding, something about their delicate reproductive organs, unless they're not okayed for reproduction. (6.32)
The Dome discriminates against women, which isn't surprising seeing that they're so corrupt in every other way. For them, women are only good for reproduction.
Regardless of whether she gets out or not, there is the stain. Who would allow her to marry into their family now? No one. Even if they did, she wouldn't be permitted to have children. Ill fit for genetic repopulation—the end. (13.5)
And if you can't have children anymore, what do you become? No wonder the women in the rehabilitation center want to rebel; they have close to no rights in the Dome.
"Are we about to be beaten to death by a car pool?" (28.99)
Real funny, Partridge.
She wasn't going to embrace conservative ideals. She thought it was bullshit, like saying, Aren't we great the way we are! Pretty, feminine, nonthreatening. (28.31)
The feminine feminists are a pretty complicated group of people; they want to be feminine, but not seen as feminine. Why is that?
Partridge knows these women and their fused children are tactical and violent. They are soldiers. (28.108)
Here is what the women outside of the Dome look like: strong, fearless, tough. Don't mess with the mamas.
Partridge has a hard time believing that the people who once lived in these homes were capable of survival. (28.99)
The problem with the Dome's treatment of women is that the men, even the good men like Partridge, are brainwashed into thinking that women are subservient. Ugh, the Dome has it all wrong.
"We believe in real education for women," Ingership's wife says. "We believe in achievement and empowerment, but why does that have to be at odds with simple feminine virtues—beauty and grace and a dedication to home and family? Why does that mean we have to swing a briefcase and be manly?" (29.19)
This is an example of what the feminine feminists believe in. But Illia is reciting this, which makes us wonder if she is actually being serious. Do you really think she believes in this speech, especially after seeing her stab Ingership with a scalpel?
"Deaths, they did this to all of us. We used to call them Father or Husband or Mister." (37.38)
Why do you think that men are called "Deaths"? Were the Detonations the result of men and men alone?
"They left us to die and we are forced to carry our children, our children who will never outgrow us, and we will do this forever. Our burden is our love." (37.38)
Taking care of a child is hard enough, but having to take care of them for eternity is almost unfathomable. The mothers' burden reveals how strong they are to actually persevere in this world, and they make other characters' plights almost look easy.
"No, thanks" […] Lyda glances at Pressia then says calmly, "We'll do what we want." (59.19)
A great moment of feminism. Pressia and Lyda stand up for themselves when Ingership tells them to wait in the parlor. And really, what did we expect? At this point in the novel, we should have seen this response coming.
Partridge isn't so sure—to be in a cage or set loose into this world? This is a question that he should be able to answer. Does some part of him wish he were back in the Dome? (26.40)
You know, Partridge sacrificed a whole lot to escape the Dome. He had a pretty sweet lifestyle in the Dome: he had a pretty date to the dance, sanitation, and a nice roommate. Going outside the Dome was a pretty big risk.
"If you want to find your mother, you will need our help. The matter is whether or not you're willing to sacrifice for your goal." (37.66)
Would you give up a pinky to find your lost mother? Partridge would.
"I was," he says again. "And now I'm not." (46.36)
It's interesting to think about Sedge as a human in this book: he suffers just as much as other characters. Especially because he had to sacrifice his human life to be a special forces creature.
"He wouldn't know if we were alive, but he was willing to sacrifice that knowledge to make us think that he'd died." (53.17)
Not knowing is sometimes better than knowing. Sacrificing knowledge can be pretty dangerous, but for Ellery, pretending to be dead is better than knowing if others were alive.
"It was the story of a child who was cared for—a child with a routine. A healthy child. A child better off where she was." (53.43)
One of the biggest sacrifices of them all; Aribelle leaves Pressia with her grandfather because she had a better chance of surviving with him.
"I made a small sacrifice," he said.
"Do you want to take it back?"
He stares at the bandage, the end darkened by dry blood. He shakes his head. "No." (54.26)
Partridge's pinky sacrifice is difficult to begin with, but he refuses the offer to have it fixed? Missing a pinky is now a part of him; sometimes sacrifices can make you who you are.
"Tell your father that he can have whatever he wants. He can have the pills. He can take me. Just not this." (56.17)
Nothing can trump the safety of your child. Aribelle is willing to give up her whole mission just for the safety of Sedge.
She raises the gun, takes aim at her mother, draws in a breath, lets it halfway out, and then she closes her eyes. She pulls the trigger. (57.10)
Pressia isn't exactly sacrificing her mother here, because she's going to die anyway. But by shooting her, Pressia is giving up a part of herself: her childhood.
"I never activated the ticker. I switched the wiring. If anyone flipped the switch, it would only deactivate the bugs. I said I wouldn't put you in harm's way. I promised." (59.67)
Ingership's wife could have conformed to his rules. If she had followed his orders, she would have been safe. But she still puts her own life in danger for the sake of the wretches.
Lyda is about to ask him what will happen to them now [...] "I'm here now." There is no returning. (59.107)
Like Partridge, Lyda also has to sacrifice her own life inside the Dome. But really, do you think she had a choice?