Study Guide

Pure Themes

  • Hate

    Why can't we all just get along? The dystopian world of Pure is just filled with loathing; the Pures hate the wretches, the wretches hate the Pures, everyone hates OSR and OSR hates everyone.

    And when people start hating people, they start playing the blame game—because the world is filled with so much suffering and discrimination, the only answer is to point fingers. And explode heads. And plant bugs in people's eyes. And kill innocent grandfathers.

    Questions About Hate

    1. The outside and inside of the Dome seem to hate each other unconditionally. Do you think one of the sides is in the right?
    2. If you were a wretch or a Pure, do you think you would end up loathing the other side?
    3. What relationships in the book do we see the most amount of dislike and animosity, and why?

    Chew on This

    The people who live inside of the Dome shouldn't dislike the wretches, but should pity them instead.

    Whenever we see two new characters meet, there is a certain degree of tension… no matter what the situation is.

  • Language and Communication

    Language is tricky under the best of circumstances, but throw in a few radiation bombs and a separated society and language becomes almost impossible. The characters in Pure struggle with vocabulary. What are oysters? What's a briefcase? Why is a pincushion called a pincushion?

    In fact, these characters can't even communicate to themselves what they're feeling. This creates an insane level of alienation… both from themselves, and between themselves and others.

    Questions About Language and Communication

    1. Why does not remembering a certain word bother some of the characters so much?
    2. If the people inside the Dome had direct and public communication with those outside the Dome, do you think there would be less hostility?
    3. How does Language and Communication connect to the theme of Memory and the Past?
    4. Do any words that characters place a lot of emphasis on (like confetti or chandelier) seem to hold high importance?

    Chew on This

    Because of their memory loss, characters rely on salvaging certain words from their vocabulary to fit in some of the puzzle pieces of their jigsawed past.

    Because those inside the Dome and those outside of the Dome don't have a public way of communicating, the rebellion against the Dome becomes inevitable.

  • Power

    You know what's pretty fun? Being in complete control. At all times. You know what's not fun? Feeling weak and helpless. And you know what makes a good story? Watching the underdog triumph.

    There are all sorts of power in Pure; the physically powerful Bradwell, Pressia's powerful smarts, and Helmud's powerful silence. But as a general rule the outside of the Dome is devoid of power, and the inside of the Dome is corrupt with power.

    Questions About Power

    1. Who holds the most power in this novel? Who wields their power in the most morally responsible manner?
    2. Why does Pressia try to gain power over the other characters, even her friends?
    3. What is more important in this post-apocalyptic world: physical strength or mental strength?

    Chew on This

    Despite his super-abilities, Partridge is powerless when it comes to working alone because of his feeble mind.

    The Dome might seem like it is all-powerful, but in reality it's just a target that is bound to be overthrown.

  • Memory and the Past

    In the world of Pure, it seems as if all memory is lost. The main characters constantly struggle to pull memories from their lives, and sometimes they even make them up. Even Pressia's favorite game—"I Remember"—is just that: a game.

    For people outside of the Dome (and some inside), memories hold just as much weight as actual wealth. If you can remember your past, then maybe you can understand your present. But if you're memory is hazy (like Pressia and Partridge), then you're at the hands of the all-powerful Dome.

    Questions About Memory and the Past

    1. What memories do you think affect Pressia the most: the ones she doesn't remember, or the ones she does remember?
    2. Why do kids play I Remember? Is it to form trust, like Pressia says, or is it something else?
    3. Do the characters spend too much time thinking about the Past, and not enough time thinking about the present?
    4. What single memory do you think holds the most importance throughout the book?

    Chew on This

    Though Bradwell makes a good point that the wretches should hold on to their past, they're actually preventing themselves from focusing on the present and future.

    Pressia's love for the way things used to be is not a weakness, because it shows the hope she has to change the world.

  • Perseverance

    Sometimes you just have to wonder, how on earth do the characters in Pure have the strength to go on? Most of the main characters were almost killed from the Detonations… and those that didn't had to live with being fused to something their whole life. They also have to deal with a world filled with monsters, violence, poverty, and death.

    Yet, they still persevere, and all because of a little thing we call hope.

    Questions About Perseverance

    1. What's up with Saint Wi?
    2. Do you think the words "Perseverance" and "Hope" are synonymous in this novel?
    3. What are some instances where characters give up?

    Chew on This

    Without hope and perseverance, the wretches would all be dead.

    The perseverance found in the wretches stems from fear, not strength.

  • Sacrifice

    The sacrifices the characters make in Pure aren't your normal sacrifices. We're not talking about cutting carbohydrates out your diet or giving up Facebook for a month; we're talking about serious sacrifices.

    Like as in: leaving your daughter in the hands of someone else because she's better off. Or, say, shooting your mother to put her out of her misery. Yeah, these sacrifices aren't very uplifting. But they deal with the real-deal sacrifices that reveal the struggles of humanity.

    Questions About Sacrifice

    1. Why does Partridge leave the Dome? Was it only because of his mother, or were there other reasons?
    2. Do you think some characters were forced to make sacrifices?
    3. What does the word "sacrifice" really mean in this novel?

    Chew on This

    Many of the sacrifices made (like Partridge's pinky and Lyda's alliance at the end) were made out of necessity.

    You can't really call anything that the wretches do a "sacrifice."

  • Spirituality

    Putting your faith into something isn't always a bad move… especially when life is as bleak as it is in Pure. But "faith" and "religion" don't always need to go together, especially in this book.

    Most of the characters don't believe in any kind of God or higher power, yet they're still spiritual in their own ways. In many cases, the characters' spirituality is their driving force. They believe in a better world, or in the possibility for change… and many of them even believe in the innate goodness of mankind, even having seen some pretty hideous things.

    Questions About Spirituality

    1. Who is the most spiritual character? Remember: this doesn't necessarily mean religious.
    2. How is Pressia's doll-hand a symbol of spirituality?
    3. Is the Dome a symbol of spirituality? If you were a wretch, would you worship the Dome, or something else? Or nothing at all?

    Chew on This

    The spirituality in this book is completely devoid of religion.

    Some of the characters (like Bradwell) force themselves to be spiritual.

  • Women and Femininity

    You won't find a woman who isn't an absolute force in Pure. These women are not to be messed with. There's even a leader of a group called the "mothers" whose name is Our Good Mother. Oh, and these mothers are fused together with their own children, stuck to take care of them for eternity.

    The women in this book make the men look pretty foolish at times. Even though this dystopian world still subjugates women and paints the men as superiors, it's pretty easy to see that these women aren't going to take this subjugation lying down.

    Questions About Women and Femininity

    1. Why is Our Good Mother the most powerful mother?
    2. Who is the strongest female character in this book? Pressia? Our Good Mother? Aribelle? Lyda?
    3. Do you think the mothers' hatred of men is a founded? And why do they agree to help Partridge and Bradwell?

    Chew on This

    The women in this book are much stronger than the men.

    Only those who have lost children (or are fused to them) in this book truly understand what it means to suffer.