After Kai leaves, Cinder turns back to Dr. Erland. She tells him that she visited the quarantines and saw the med-droids take an ID chip from someone. Dr. Erland explains that the chips can be sold off illegally for people who want a new identity—like Lunars who have escaped Luna and fled to Earth. Cinder says that this makes it sound like they’re escaping a prison, and Dr. Erland says that they are. Cinder is suspicious of these “savages” coming to Earth and manipulating Earthens.
Dr. Erland’s knowledge about Lunar fugitives implies that he may be more connected to the Lunar world than he’s letting on. Likewise, the book introduces the idea that many people in Earthen society might also be concealing their identities, creating a sense of secrecy throughout Earth and Luna. Meanwhile, Cinder again reinforces harmful stereotypes about the Lunars in describing all of them as “savages”—even though she herself is the victim of harmful stereotypes about cyborgs.
Cinder also asks Dr. Erland about the Lunars’ glamour. He explains that it’s the ability to manipulate bioelectric energy, and glamour is an illusion of themselves that they can project into the minds of others. This is why the Lunars often look beautiful—they keep up this manipulation all the time. It’s also why they don’t like mirrors, because their glamour doesn’t work in mirrors.
Glamour enables Lunars to manipulate others—but this will likely end up backfiring because people like Cinder and Kai will recognize this manipulation and distrust the Lunars for it. Here, the book also connects mirrors to this secrecy. As symbols of self-reflection and truth, the Lunars’ dislike of mirrors emphasizes how they would rather control their image and obscure the truth than portray themselves as they really are.
Dr. Erland asks why Cinder is so interested in the Lunars, and Cinder replies that Kai said Queen Levana is visiting that day. The doctor is aghast and tells Cinder that she has to stay out of the palace. Cinder is confused as to what Levana has to do with her, and he tries to explain quickly that from Cinder’s blood samples, it appears that she is Lunar. Cinder protests, saying that she doesn’t have magic, but Dr. Erland explains that not all Lunars are born with magic (those without are called “shells”), and that parents with shell children often try to escape to Earth because those children can be killed. This also explains Cinder’s immunity, because Lunars are immune to letumosis—they were the original carriers of the disease to Earth.
These revelations finally illuminate some of Dr. Erland’s secrecy, and how that secrecy has actually been harmful to Cinder. First, Dr. Erland has kept Cinder not because her immunity is useful, but because she is Lunar. It’s not yet clear why this matters so much to Dr. Erland, but it seems that he may be trying to protect Cinder and prevent other people from finding out about her Lunar identity. However, this also means that the testing she’s undergone is irrelevant, because her natural immunity won’t translate to Earthens. Separately, Dr. Erland’s exposition about “shells” shows that there is discrimination in Lunar society as well. Gifted Lunars target and kill shells because they cannot be controlled and are believed to be dangerous.
Cinder is horrified at these revelations: Lunars are cruel people, and she does not want to be one of them. Plus, to be Lunar in addition to being cyborg makes her a complete outcast. Dr. Erland tells Cinder that she can’t let Queen Levana see her, because the Queen hates shells, whom she can’t control, and that the Queen would likely kill her. Cinder realizes that everything she knows about herself—her childhood, her parents, her identity—is a lie.
Cinder recognizes that she will now face discrimination both from Earthens (because she’s a cyborg and a Lunar) and from Lunars (because she’s a shell). This speaks to the universality of stereotypes and discrimination—it seems that every society has at least one marginalized group. Even now, knowing that she herself a Lunar, Cinder clings to negative stereotypes that paint all Lunar people as cruel. Dr. Erland’s warning also hints at the lengths to which Queen Levana will go to control and manipulate those around her, rooting out anyone whom she cannot brainwash.