Give and Take

As a part of one of my favorite series, it is basically impossible for me to not try to analyze the theme for The Rose Society written by Marie Lu. Adelina’s story is one of many chaos and dark moments, yet it is also filled with determination or a certain amount of bullheadedness. Therefore, it is not surprising that there are multiple themes throughout the second book of the Young Elites series. Betrayal, kindness and the idea of an identity are amongst the most important lessons that is taught in The Rose Society.

The worst betrayal in the second book is surprisingly similar to the one the the first book. In both scenarios, Adelina was the one to first hurt the people around her. This creates an uncomfortable barrier between her and the people who cares for her and her doubt of their intentions always lead to her downfall. In this story, your actions and inactions lead to your downfall. She refused Violetta’s advice to not feed her powers by killing again and again, making her sister feel disrespected, hurt and fearful, and when Violetta forcefully takes away her powers, she lashes out at her sister, causing her to flee. She leads to her own downfall in 2 different versions of events, except this time, she doesn’t have her sister. as she betrayed her, and not matter how much comfort Magiano will give to her, her own actions will lead to her downfall again and again until she learns that not everyone has evil intentions behind their actions.

Which lead me to another important theme, to trust people who are giving you kindness. But given her past history with betrayal, I doubt that she will trust anyone anytime soon. As well as the whispers in her head that increases in volume every time she kills someone, an effect of her powers rebounding onto herself.  “None of it was your fault, the whispers in my head argue. You didn’t kill him, after all — it was not your blade that ended his life. So why are you the one cast out? You didn’t have to return to the Daggers — you didn’t need to help them rescue Raffaele. And still they turned on you. Why does everyone forget your good intentions, Adelina?” (Lu, p4). In this case, Raffaele is also making wrong choices as all of the kindness that he gives comes with a price. If he is not willing to give kindness without any strings attached, then she will never trust him enough to help him to try to find a cure for the elite powers that are affecting everyone. So if Adelina wants kindness, she needs to trust and if Raffaele wants trust from Adelina or anyone else, he needs to give true kindness.

The third and final theme that revolves around all of the characters is discovering an identity that is beneficial to yourself as much as others. “The irony of life is that those who wear masks often tell us more truths than those with open faces.” (p19) This quote often confuses me as it never made sense in the context of the story. Throughout the book, Raffaele is forced to carry the heavy burden of becoming the leader of the malfettos and sharing their personal pains. Then, queen Maeve forced a new “mask” onto him and he was once again burdened with a duty, this time to seduce Giulietta and hopefully separate her and Teren. He is essentially a painted dummy, each person painting their ideas and hopes onto him. And he lets them get away with it, not because he is willing, but because he feels as if he has not purpose other than to sacrifice his own happiness and peace for another’s. He learns this twisted lesson at a young age, when he sacrificed himself just to get his family enough food so they would not starve. He wasn’t even allowed time to grieve for the person he loved, and ultimately his plans failed when Adelina replicated what was left of his person and became bonded to Enzo, securing her place on the throne. “Hiding it makes you more beautiful,” Magiano says. Then he takes his hand away, exposing my scar again. “But revealing it makes you you.” He nods at me. “So wear it proudly.”  But Adelina does not need to know that. She is very well defined and her boundaries are set and will not budge for just anyone. But unfortunately for her, because of her rigid ideals, she ultimately refused help and closed in onto herself.

As I’ve said before, there are many other themes throughout the series. But the one that resonated with me the most are all listed here. Firstly, every action has a consequence and if you have broken your trust with a person, don’t blame them for your betrayal. Second, kindness and trust are two sides of the same coin and both needs to be built over a period of time and sacrifice. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, don’t let what everyone else thinks you should be define you. Set up some boundaries, but don’t be unnecessarily stubborn about it. Everything is connected like a scale. To not hit the ground, or be raised up too high, there should be a balance of give and take.