Study Guide

The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking #1) Chapter 21

By Patrick Ness

Chapter 21

The Wider World

  • Viola and Todd are complaining about how long the journey to Haven is. Until they run into a river, that is.
  • Communication is kind of an issue between these two, though in Todd's mind, his Noise is equal to Viola's silence, or lack of Noise.
  • Viola broaches the topic of the journal again, asking to read it. This time, Todd knows that it makes the most sense.
  • Finally, Shmoopers, the moment we've all been waiting for: Viola begins to read the book. It starts by telling them to go to Farbranch, then it says that there are things about the history of Prentisstown that Todd doesn't know about—and importantly, this knowledge has been kept from Todd to protect him.
  • Here's the juice: The mayor has been waiting until every member becomes a man (a.k.a. Todd), so they can invade other settlements.
  • The next bit falls like a ton of bricks. The journal pleads with Todd to run ahead to Farbranch and warn them. Which, of course, they totally didn't.
  • Viola and Todd run for as long as they can without stopping. They wonder where all the people in the New World are, with all the empty land that there is.
  • They stop to eat, and Viola asks why it's such a big deal that boys become men at thirteen.
  • Todd explains that Aaron taught them that it was a religious process from innocence to sin. He also thinks that it has something to do with needing people to become adults so they can help pull the work weight.
  • Viola also can't believe that there are thirteen months for a year. In her world, like ours, there are twelve. She brings up a valid point: If there's an extra month in his year, he could actually be way older than 13. (Not to burst Viola's bubble, but we did the math, and one extra month per year means Todd's lives twelve extra months at this point, so he's really only a year older, which isn't such a big deal. But now back to your regularly scheduled programming, Shmoopers.)
  • They turn in for the night and take turns sleeping and keeping watch.
  • While Viola sleeps, Todd wonders what her life must be like, living on a ship with her parents. She gets up and asks him how people sleep with all the Noise.
  • They talk about settlers coming to the New World, and compare differences between these new settlers and the old settlers.
  • After the conversation circles back to her parents again, Viola asks that Todd steps away so she can quietly fall asleep—without Noise.
  • They wake up really early to the sound of whispering Noise and start running again; they're near a settlement, which could be where the army is headed.
  • They hit a dilemma. Should they go ahead to the settlement and warn them? They think about it, but decide to keep moving.
  • As they are running for their lives, they start arguing again. Viola has been educated on the right way to set up settlements, since that's why she's been travelling her whole live. Todd is frustrated because he's been taught to live and work in a settlement instead.
  • Suddenly, Manchee barked and runs ahead, and they hear something.