As Cinder works in her basement, Iko is excited by the prospect that Cinder might go to the ball. But Cinder tells Iko that there’s no way she can attend—she doesn’t have money for clothes, and Adri has no real intention of letting her go. Plus, even if she went, no one would dance with her since she’s a cyborg.
Here, Cinder again highlights the discrimination that she faces as a cyborg, as she knows that no one would want to dance with her because of the prejudiced belief that cyborgs are lesser than human beings. In addition, Cinder acknowledges the obstacles standing in the way of her going to the ball: namely, lack of control over her finances and lack of support from Adri. Cinder has shown a great deal of resolve in her work and personal struggles, so it’s possible that she’ll be able to overcome these challenges even though she doesn’t seem very confident.
At that moment, Peony comes into the basement in her dress, and Cinder compliments her. Peony complains that Adri isn’t getting a dress for Cinder, but Cinder tries to assure her that she doesn’t want to go to the ball. Cinder tells Peony that she and Iko are off to find a magbelt in a nearby junkyard, and Peony says that she wants to go with them.
Here, Peony aligns herself with her stepsister and against her mother. But because Peony has no real power in the family, she isn’t able to help Cinder beyond offering moral support. This reason why Adri, by contrast, can be so greedy and unkind to Cinder is because she’s able to take advantage of the power that her role as the head of the family affords.