Red Queen

by

Victoria Aveyard

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Red Queen: Chapter 20 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Mare screams along with the crowd as she makes the lights go out so that her friends can escape. In the chaos, Mare stumbles upon the murdered bodies and notices the silver blood trickling from their bullet wounds. Mare cannot hold the lights off any longer and apologizes to the person dragging her away from one of the bodies. She realizes that it is Cal, trying to make sure she is all right. Cal tells Lucas to take Mare out of the ballroom, but he refuses to run away himself.
Because they do not yet know of her involvement in the assassination, Cal and Lucas try to protect Mare. She thus feels her betrayal of them even more acutely. She must sink deeper into her performance in order to avoid their suspicions, leading to another lie. Mare’s observation of the silver blood helps anchor her to the feeling that the murders were politically motivated: after all, there have been countless Red bodies left to bleed on the warfront.
Themes
Biological Determinism and Social Inequality Theme Icon
Trust and Betrayal Theme Icon
Power and Degradation Theme Icon
Revolution vs. Stability Theme Icon
Mare sees one of the dead bodies as she leaves, posed in the middle of the ballroom with a lance sticking out of him. On the lance is a red sash stamped with a torn sun. As soon as Mare and Lucas leave the hall, there is an explosion behind them. Lucas says that it is a bomb, and based on the sash, it was set by the Scarlet Guard. He assures Mare that she needn’t worry about Cal being hurt by a bomb. However, Mare is more preoccupied by her confusion: a bomb was not part of the plan. She feels betrayed.
Now that the plot has exceeded Mare’s expectations of violence, she feels that she has been used. She already knew she was a pawn, but now she realizes that she may not have been as capable of assessing people as she thought she was. She is now not sure of her allegiance to the Scarlet Guard but also knows that she is, at least in part, answerable for their actions.
Themes
Trust and Betrayal Theme Icon
Power and Degradation Theme Icon
Revolution vs. Stability Theme Icon
Lucas leads Mare underground, where the rest of the royal family except Cal lies in wait. The king rages about the attack and wants to know about “my son.” Mare notices that Maven appears used to being overlooked this way. Mare tells the king that Cal went after the shooters and that the Scarlet Guard left behind a banner. The king and queen fight over which of them is responsible for letting the Scarlet Guard become such a danger. Elara leaves to question the servants.
One of the king’s sons is present, but he is focused only on the one who is absent. Mare may be uncomfortable with what Maven has convinced her to do, but he regains her sympathies in this moment because she knows what it is like to be overlooked by a parent in favor of another child. Again, the king and queen reveal that their marriage is strained by a struggle for political power.
Themes
Trust and Betrayal Theme Icon
Power and Degradation Theme Icon
Evangeline comes in, obviously crying for her brother, followed by Cal, who is soaked in Red blood. They bring Mare with them to a prison cell containing four people, including Farley, Walsh, Kilorn, and a third lieutenant named Tristan. Cal, who remembers Kilorn from the Stilts, demands that Mare explain his presence. She feigns ignorance at his involvement in the Scarlet Guard, claiming only to have helped him get a job. The rest of the royal family enters as well and watches as Cal directs the torture of Farley by a sentinel to get information out of her. The sentinel freezes Farley’s blood until Cal finally cannot take it and calls a halt.
Cal’s demand of Mare that she explain what is going on drives home the fact that she bears at least some personal responsibility for the terrorist attack. It also demonstrates that for all the feelings of betrayal she has had toward Cal, Mare has now also betrayed Cal’s trust. Mare’s loyalties are in conflict, because to do right by Cal would be to betray Kilorn. Cal further complicates Mare’s feelings toward him by torturing Farley in a way that is horrifying to Mare, but then showing humanity by backing down from the torture.
Themes
Trust and Betrayal Theme Icon
Power and Degradation Theme Icon
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Someone bursts in, calling for Evangeline. Mare and Farley are both surprised to see Evangeline’s brother, healed from the attack. Mare must force herself not to react. Evangeline’s brother, also a magnetron, detaches one of the bars of the cell and plunges it into Tristan’s chest. Mare grabs Evangeline’s brother around the neck and shocks him until he drops to the floor. Mare realizes that everyone is looking at her, afraid. Cal looks ashamed, either because he tortured Farley or because his torture failed to extract information from her. Maven and Mare play for time, convincing Cal and the king to address the kingdom. Evangeline tells Cal that he is weak. Mare renews her resolve to protect Kilorn.
There is a complex power dynamic going on in this scene. Mare, Evangeline’s brother, Cal, and Maven are all attempting to control the situation, but none of them can quite tell what the others are thinking. Mare’s inability to tell why Cal is ashamed demonstrates that Mare’s own double-crossing is making her increasingly distrustful of others. Unsure what exactly her goals or allegiances should be in the grand scheme of things, Mare doubles down on the commitment to Kilorn that led her into the capital in the first place.
Themes
Trust and Betrayal Theme Icon
Power and Degradation Theme Icon
Revolution vs. Stability Theme Icon
On the way back to the throne room, Mare drips silver blood while Cal drips red. Mare asks Cal how many casualties there have been, and she is struck by his casual tone when he lists off the ten dead and fifteen wounded. Mare thinks, “I never wanted this” as Maven takes her hands in their usual spot in the throne room. King Tiberias speaks, vowing to avenge the fallen against the ungrateful Reds. Mare notices the smell of blood as the court yells, “Strength. Power! Death!” Mare meets Maven’s eyes and knows that they are both thinking, “What have we done?”
Mare and Cal are not wounded, but are each soaked in the blood of the other’s people. The blood symbolizes both their mutual guilt and the violence that is to come should class warfare continue. Mare’s attempt to bring about equality, she realizes, has inspired the Silvers to even more violence. The addition of “death” to the king’s mantra of “Strength. Power,” makes explicit that the Silvers are out not just for Reds but, specifically, for Red blood.
Themes
Biological Determinism and Social Inequality Theme Icon
Power and Degradation Theme Icon
Revolution vs. Stability Theme Icon