This essay compares and contrasts the theme of change in City of Bones and Matched.
|CHANGE in MATCHED and CITY OF BONES|
If there was just one thing I learned in middle school, it’s that life is never constant. Life is like a simulation that shifts and morphs every minute, every moment. The changes are what make us who we are today. Characters in books, in a similar way, are shaped by the changes they experience… which is probably the reason to why they are so drastically different in the beginning and end of a given novel. This essay will explore the changes that happen inside two bestselling young adult novels—Matched, by Ally Condie and City of Bones, by Cassandra Clare.
Matched and City of Bones are two books that carry similar yet different messages. A theme that both novels convey is: Change changes a character forever. Change is something that is bound to happen at some point in everyone’s life, and people get affected by it in some way or other. Changes that happen for Cassia in Matched, and Clary in City of Bones, completely reshape the girls’ lives. There are many parallels as well as contrasts demonstrated between the two journeys.
There are many similarities. For example, both girls begin at the point where they are living a very ordinary life—ordinary depending on what their respective societies perceive ‘ordinary’ to be. In Matched, Cassia is just another citizen living in the Society. She smiles and nods approves—she sees nothing wrong with the Society Officials choosing everything for her. In City of Bones, Clary is just another teenager living with her family, in New York City. She starts out as one of the “fifty or so teenagers in line outside the Pandemonium Club” (Clare 1).
The change happens for the two girls early on in the novels, by meeting a special guy who would turn things upside down. For Cassia, she gets to know Ky Markham and obtain interesting new information from him during her leisure activity—hiking. Ky sees illegal pieces of poetry in Cassia’s possession but keeps quiet for he, too, is an "artefact enthusiast" (Condie 96-97). For Clary, she meets a mysterious but hot Jace at the Pandemonium Club. “Have you had dealings with demons, little girl? Walked with warlocks, talked with the Night Children" (Clare 15)? he asks. With that, Jace introduces a whole new world to Clary.
Furthermore, both girls believe that the change is for the better. Cassia is kept in the dark for her whole life, and everything about her is determined by the Society. Figuratively speaking, she is a puppet and the Officials are the puppeteers. Her change is about gaining knowledge and learning about literature, history, works of famous people—she believes this to be important, because her boyfriend Ky says so as well as her having a strong desire to learn. Clary is supposed to be a Shadowhunter, but her mother tries to “protect” her daughter from the Shadow World. Therefore, Clary is just claiming the role that belonged to her ever since the very beginning. There is anger and resent mixed into her decision, especially since her cluelessness was her own mother’s fault—“Didn’t she think it was wrong, all those years" (Clare 404)?
Additionally, both girls travel to change, whether the “travel” is literal or not. Cassia travels literally, to places outside of the Society. She also has to travel to places where the Society couldn’t detect whatever she is saying or planning with Ky. Clary, on the other hand, travels in a different manner. After finding out that there is a whole another world within her own, she has to make that shift into her new life. She has some literal travels as well, in which she travels to the Institute and across Portals and dimensions to fulfil her duty as a daughter and Shadowhunter.
Cassia and Clary for the most part like their changes even though they are hard and surprising. In own their ways, the two make sacrifices—ones they don't really want to make. For example, both girls leave their childhood friends behind. Cassia leaves behind Xander, who she is supposed to be Matched with. “I heard you leave tomorrow" (Condie 350), Xander says. Xander, although he’s pretty sad about losing Cassia to Ky and a whole new world of adventures, is pretty cool about it. Simon, the guy Clary leaves behind, is not as understanding. While Clary has always regarded him as some sort of a best friend, he had unrequited love for Clary, for years and years and years. He kind of tags along, but in the end Clary ditches him for Jace anyway.
On top of that, the two girls gain knowledge from their change—whether they wanted it or not. Cassia, by taking on her adventure out to the Outer Provinces and in defying the Society, acquires pieces of literature, writing, history, and words. Clary, by joining the Shadow World, gains a lot of information on angels, demons, Valentine, Shadowhunters, Downworlders, and the such. Cassia and Clary, at the end of both books, are no longer innocent, ignorant little children.
To summarise, they really become different people. They become stronger, more resilient, perhaps even wiser. Both girls learn to fight. Cassia fights for knowledge and pushes her limits pretty hard while trying to survive outside of the Society’s “protection”. As for Clary, a Shadowhunter’s job is basically to fight for the good of the world, against demons and Valentine, etc. Clary learns how to fight using her body and seraph blades, training along with Jace.
Many stages of change in Cassia’s and Clary’s journey mirror each other’s, and they both fit to the theme of how change alters a character drastically. But there are differences as well. It’s simply not reasonable for Clare to have made any money if she had just copied off of Condie’s work, or vice versa. Some of these differences are already listed above, within the many similarities. There are even more, though.
The main difference is that one girl has the choice of whether or not to change, while the other girl doesn't. For Cassia, it is completely up to her—she could decide to ignore Ky and avoid all the trouble (which comes with the truth and enlightenment). However, for Clary, although it could be argued that she has the choice to sit back and not interfere—the choice is harder for her. So first Clary is seeing weird things, suspecting her memory being erased, and witnessing Jace and some other hooligans dressed in black killing a boy which they refer to as ‘demon’ (Clare 14). And then, her mother is taken away by Valentine, and demons invade her house. She is frightened and threatened, and there are some things that one can’t ignore, like a family member being kidnapped. So Clary has not choice but to go and investigate about all the unexplainable things occurring to her.
Another difference are the things Cassia and Clary change for. Once again, Cassia strives for knowledge and everything that is unknown to her. The change she undertakes gives her the knowledge and information she desires, as well as Ky, the love of her life (Condie 364-365). Clary also changes for knowledge, but not only knowledge. Her prime goal is to retrieve her mother and go back to her ordinary life. In doing so, though, Clary figures out that she couldn’t possibly return to her normal life because a Shadowhunter is what she was born to be (Clare 226). In a way, Clary fights for her role and identity.
Either way the journey of both girls fits the theme. The changes they go through change them and their lives forever. It wouldn’t do for Cassia to walk back into the Society and say that she wanted to live normally under the Officials’ control again, or for Clary to shrug and decide that her role as a Shadowhunter is pretty much done. This is because the change has already become part of themselves—something that they cannot take apart or shove aside. The twists and turns of events they went through in the change could be both compared and contrasted.
Change changes a character forever. Just like this phrase applied to Cassia and Clary, it could also apply to you. We undergo changes in our everyday lives—were there any significant ones in your life that moulded you to be who you are today? Think about it: Before, were you ever a different person than what you are right now? Which changes are responsible for the results and aspects in your life and personality today?
Condie, Ally. Matched. New York: Dutton, 2010. Print.
Clare, Cassandra. City of Bones. New York: M.K. McElderry, 2007. Print.