Study Guide

Unwind Rules and Order

By Neal Schusterman

Rules and Order

Chapter 1

Connor knows his situation calls for justified caution—not just tonight, but for the next two years. Then once he turns eighteen, he's home free. (1.1.66)

There's an arbitrary cutoff for unwinding, and it's eighteen years old. Connor's idea is to run away and hide until then, when he'll be exempt from the procedure.

Chapter 9

If they catch her, she's obliged to keep the baby—that's part of the Storking Initiative too—but if they open the door and find nothing but the child, it's "finder's keepers" in the eyes of the law. Whether they want it or not, the baby is legally theirs. (2.9.9)

Oh good—the government has turned babies into a game. It's like an Easter egg hunt, except nobody wants to find anything and there's no sweet giant chocolate rabbit at the end.

Chapter 10

"No, stealing ourselves. Once the unwind orders were signed, we all became government property. Kicking-AWOL makes us federal criminals." (2.10.21)

This law turns minors into property, which seems egregious. But are real-world laws any different? Think on it a minute—things might not be quite as you assume.

Chapter 16

[Hannah] knows—she sees—how often compassion takes a back seat to expediency. (2.16.18)

It seems that the rules come at the expense of basic human decency. Even Hannah seems put-upon when she realizes she has to help these children. She's become so conditioned by the society she lives in, despite having beef with it.

Chapter 19

"If you really want to stay alive, honey, have him get you pregnant again. They won't unwind an expectant mother, so that will buy you nine whole months." (2.19.49)

This is a pretty awful reason to have a baby, and it doesn't even take into consideration the fact that this baby would probably be later unwound after being storked. Does anyone actually care about anyone in this book?

Chapter 27

"They do it all the time," says Hayden. "That's what law is: educated guesses at right and wrong." (4.27.117, 4.27.120-4.27.121)

Here Hayden tells it like it is. As we said when discussing ethics and morality, there are no absolutes. Although now that we think about it, that statement kind of sounds like an absolute in its own right…

Chapter 28

"Make no mistake about it: What we do here is highly illegal, but that does not mean we don't follow the rule of law. My law." (4.28.44)

The Admiral has replaced governmental laws with his own. He doesn't believe that the solution is total anarchy, but simply to have different rules to abide by.

Chapter 66

"The good news is that, as E. Robert Mullard, you qualified for emergency transplants." (7.66.23)

Connor eventually finds his loophole at the end of the book—an ID he can pass off as his own, one that says he's of legal age. The nurse is sympathetic to his cause because she doesn't question his identity; in fact, become Mullard is her idea. In other words, here we see breaking the rules arguably working for good.

When, she wonders, did she stop being a child? The law says it was when she turned eighteen, but the law doesn't know her. (2.9.1)

Despite what the law says, it seems that some people are teenagers mentally a lot longer than their age says they are.

"They can't unwind me now—there are laws against unwinding the disabled—but if I got the operation, they'd unwind me the moment I was healed. This way I get to stay whole." She smiles at him triumphantly. "So you're not the only one who beat the system." (7.67.17)

Risa may have found a loophole, too, but this is what we call a Pyrrhic victory. They've subverted the laws, but at what cost?

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