Study Guide

Cass in The Forest of Hands and Teeth

By Carrie Ryan

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Oh, Cassandra. When it comes to love and kisses, this girl has it all… taken away from her.

She's Mary's sweet blonde bestie who nabs the boy Mary wants—Travis. She's got everything going for her… until Travis takes his tumble and shatters his leg. Ironically, Travis's fall shatters Cass's perfect life as well by throwing her into a love mess. How so?

  • While mending in the Cathedral, Mary—that's right, Cass's bff—visits Travis on the regular, whispering sweet stories of the ocean into his ear. Cass can barely get a word in edgewise since she doesn't live in the Cathedral and all. 
  • Harry helps Cass through the whole wounded-Travis situation, which eventually gets Cass all getting googly eyed for Harry instead of Travis. Too bad Harry's all about his girl Mary, though.

Poor Cass. One fall plummets her from it-girl status to locked-into-a-betrothal-nobody-wants-but-nobody-will-abandon-girl status. Rats.

But underneath the lonely, sensitive exterior, our Cass is a fighter. Check out these tough girl moments: 

  • Instead of letting her broken heart beat her down, she devotes herself to Jacob with mama bear level ferocity:

"I don't blame [Mary], but there was once a time when I would have come first with you […] And when I no longer came first I got angry. Because not only had I lost Travis and Harry when they both fell in love with you, I lost you as well. […] And it wasn't until I found Jacob that I understood. Because he comes first with me now. […] I no longer care about Harry and Travis and all of that. I only care about Jacob and making sure he has a full life." (30.34, 36)

Watch out, minivan moms—mama Cass is on the scene, and she will sacrifice anything for Jacob (just like she was willing to do for Harry back in her romantic heyday). 

  • Cass is one of the only characters willing to get realistic about Mary's dreams. When the water's running out, she asks, "Can we drink the ocean, Mary? Will your precious ocean save us when we're dying here on this path?" (20.39). She's all about the nuts and bolts of surviving instead of the what-ifs of being an idealist, and while Harry and Travis prioritize Mary's happiness over and over again, Cass is a bit more practical.
  • She survives—at least until the final gate—and you've got to have some courage juice bubbling inside if you can survive an onslaught of fire, starvation, and blood-crazed zombies.

'Nuff said: Cass suffers, sacrifices, and survives. She's one resilient cookie, with a loving and solid head on her shoulders.

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