The novel The Selection by Kiera Cass is a story that took place far into the future, where America isn’t even America anymore. Instead it’s Illea. One value of America today is freedom, and in Illea, a lot of laws change where people’s freedom is taken away through curfews, personal laws, and castes. They changed so much that it isn’t even an indirect/representative democracy anymore. There is a king and queen and the way the govern no longer gives freedom to the people.
In Illea, you have a curfew. The book mentions that you can not be out after 11 pm, which the main character seemed to break a lot. Illea felt that it would ensure safety and would make the country have less crime, but really it just took away the right of freedom to do what you want in your country, go out, see friends, but instead you were locked up inside because being out at 11pm was illegal. I understand today when you first get your license, you can’t be out late, but this is just being outside. You can’t be seen outside or there is a punishment and this is a value, our freedom to even be able to go outside when we want, that is stolen from those who live in this futuristic America. Jefferson states in the Declaration of Independence that “we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” (Jefferson, US 1776). He mentions that the pursuit of happiness is an unalienable right and that isn’t what the government in Illea follows. They can’t be who they want or go out when they want. People like to have fun and that just isn’t possible in this book for those living in Illea. That pursuit of happiness is no longer there.
Secondly, people’s freedom was taken away was with personal laws. This is specifically for the girls selected for the selection. Women were selected to get the chance to be with the prince, and there were laws where if the prince wanted to sleep with the women, they shouldn’t refuse. In addition, it’s frowned upon if you’ve already had sex.
Another example of how people’s freedom was taken away is with castes. There are laws with castes. People are given castes based on their families history. Most of the population is in a lower caste meaning they make a lot less money than others, people look down on them, and they struggle a lot more. According to Alexa Lardieri, a new study found that “almost 40 percent of Americans struggle to pay for basic necessities like housing and food” (Lardieri). This ties in and relates to poverty going on the The Selection due to the fact that most people in Illea are struggling to obtain money and provide food for themselves and their family. You can not choose what job you have no matter what caste you’re in. For example, those in caste 5 are artists. They are either musicians who perform for higher up castes, or they paint or sculpt or are involved in something with art. There is no way around it. That means they don’t get the option to teach, become a doctor, or even have a job as a maid or someone who cleans. You are very much limited and you don’t get the option to choose a job that you might be very passionate about. In the novel, the main character thinks to herself that “we weren’t destitute. But I guess we weren’t that far off eitherl” (Kass, p. 1). This just shows how tight they live in that society and how even if they wanted bigger and better opportunities for money, their options were limited. With castes, they can’t go far with life because they don’t have the freedom to.
Lastly, the democracy is now a monarchy. People don’t have the right to vote, or have a say in who represents their country. Instead it’s through heirs. The first born child will be who represents the country, if the child is a male, if the child is female, she is sent to a foreign country to marry the prince there, to help make a new alliance. Not only is the princes freedom taken away with that system, but the people’s freedom is taken away through the monarchy itself. They automatically know who will rule next, whether they agree with the person or not and all they can do is obey the law, whether it is fair or not.
In conclusion, The Selection is a story where the people’s freedom is taken away through many ways, whether it’s personal or public. The governing is different and they make laws to prevent people from being out late, laws where you are labeled with castes, and personal laws if you are included in the selection.
“40 Percent of Americans Struggle to Afford Basic Needs, Study Finds.” U.S. News & World Report, U.S. News & World Report, www.usnews.com/news/politics/articles/2018-08-28/study-40-percent-of-americans-struggle-to-afford-basic-needs.
Cass, Kiera, The Selection, HarperCollins, 2012, Print.
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