Study Guide

The Selection The Caste System

By Kiera Cass

The Caste System

George Illéa must have had OCD, because he created one of the most hyper-structured caste systems in dystopian history. If you peek beneath this thin veneer of order, however, you'll quickly realize that the system masks a whole lot of chaos.

First, let's break down the caste system in full, listing the different castes and the professions associated with them:

  • Caste One—royalty and religious figures.
  • Caste Two—celebrities, athletes, pop stars, politicians, and military and police officers
  • Caste Three—scientists, doctors, philosophers, writers, and other educated professionals
  • Caste Four—business owners and managers
  • Caste Five—performers
  • Caste Six—secretaries, housekeepers, seamstresses, cooks, and clerks
  • Caste Seven—manual laborers
  • Caste Eight—homeless people, the sick, and other undesirables

Besides the obvious human rights objections, the caste system gets ickier and ickier the more you examine it. First, we learn that individuals can actually pay the government to rise up the caste ladder. That's gross on its own, but the real kicker is that your current caste standing is based on your "ancestors' ability to help the government" during some great crisis of the past (3.65). How much logical sense does that make?

Speaking of lack of logic, the caste system also dictates what job you get to have. If you're in Caste Five, you have to become a performer. What, you're not a creative person? You can't sing, or write, or paint? But you're a genius at chemistry, programming, building things? Too bad. Your future has already been decided—unless you can cough up some serious moolah.

As you can see, the caste system starts seeming a lot more random once you start poking at the seams. It's hard to even see its purpose—or, well, it's hard not to notice that the caste system's purpose it's totally and entirely to keep things good for Illéa's 1%. But that's just the way things are in Illéa: everything seems clean and pristine from a distance, but it looks a whole lot dirtier once you get a closer look.