Excerpt: A Set Path by Audrey Gallagher

The Selection by Kiera Cass is set in a country called Illéa. After World War IV, the Government of the United States begins to collapse, leaving Illéa in it’s path. Ideally, each person should be able to choose their own occupation and be able to turn their life in whichever direction they please, but that is not the case for a girl named America Singer. In her country, the government has set up a system of castes where the lower castes have harder jobs and earn less money. They have also set up something called the Selection. When the prince is of age, thirty-five girls are sent to the palace. The prince must eliminate thirty-four and choose his new princess. Every girl in Illéa wants to be selected, but not America. Everything in her world turns upside down when she is sent to the palace to meet the prince. One theme in this book is that nobody should be forced to play a role in life that they are not fit for.

The caste system forces people to have professions for which they don’t particularly care. One example of this is America’s younger brother, Gerad. On page four, Cass writes, “Gerad hadn’t found his talent yet. But he was only seven. He still had a little time left.” (Cass, 4) Gerad is only seven, but he is already being pressured to find a job and start his career. While some might argue that he may still want to be an artist or musician, they forget that in the text it says, “We kept rotating through options with Gerad, but none of them were sticking. One look at the battered soccer ball in the corner or the second-hand microscope we’d inherited as payment one Christmas, and it was obvious his heart just wasn’t in the arts.” (Cass, 31.) The young boy has no interest in pursuing a career as a painter or a performer, but in order to support himself in the future, he must find a job in the arts as soon as he can. Gerad is forced to try again and again until he finds his talent as a “five”, but the more he tries, the more unappealing it becomes. Gerad is destined for involuntary work and a miserable life and he knows it.

A good amount of citizens of Illéa seem to have been put in the wrong place. In this country, people don’t have a choice of their occupation. The government appoints jobs so that everyone has something to do and everything gets done, but this doesn’t seem to please the people. When reading this book, we can understand that trying to put people in roles that they weren’t made to play isn’t helpful. This can also apply to peer pressure in modern society. We are often persuaded to do things we shouldn’t in order to prove ourselves to others. This is just like how America was persuaded to fill out the Selection forms in order to prove that she was independent and that she would do anything for Aspen. From reading this book and from past life experiences, we learn that it is best to let people make their own choices. Their isn’t a set path for people to follow, and each individual has their own strengths that they must identify on their own, not based off of what other people tell them. We can accomplish much more by doing the things that we enjoy.

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