Mare is aware that theft is highly risky now that she is targeting Silvers, who might be able to read her mind or beat her. No one seems to pay her any attention, but Mare does notice surveillance cameras scattered about the city. They make her uncomfortable, along with the video screens she sees everywhere. As Mare passes a bar, she sees a newscast announcing a terrorist attack on the Silvers in the capital.
Mare’s feeling of being watched from all angles recalls works of science fiction such as George Orwell’s 1984, which depicts a dystopian society in which every citizen is under constant surveillance. In the contemporary political and technological landscape, many people worry about the way surveillance is being used to prop up unjust political regimes. By making surveillance cameras part of the world in which Mare lives, Aveyard reinforces the parallels between the fictional world and the real world.
People assume the culprits are the Lakelanders, Norta’s opposing army, until the newscaster announces that a group called the Scarlet Guard has claimed credit for the attack. A video airs, showing a woman whose face is partially obscured. She claims to be from the Scarlet Guard and says, “We stand for the freedom and equality of all people, starting with the Reds…And we will rise up, Red as the dawn.” Bewildered, Mare recognizes the woman as Farley.
Farley preaches freedom and equality, which are core tenets of democracy. Mare has not explicitly stated her allegiance to these ideals, but she has expressed a sense of injustice at the mistreatment of Reds at the hands of Silvers. The fact that Mare’s ideals (and by extension the ideals of the reader who is meant to sympathize with her) align with those of a terrorist group raises the question of what political ends justify what means, and also the question of what is the difference between a “terrorist” and a “freedom fighter.” Farley’s language also echoes Shade’s letter, suggesting that not only Mare but also her brother are now mixed up with the Guard.
Mare backs out of the bar quietly to make her escape. Reds everywhere are doing the same. The red band around Mare’s wrist will not come off, but she manages to slip away. She looks back and witnesses a Silver “nymph” with water streaming from his hands, drowning a Red man who clearly has no answers as to who the Scarlet Guard is.
The red band signals Mare’s social status and heritage in a way that parallels discriminatory practices throughout history, such as the way Jewish people were forced to wear the Star of David during the Nazi regime in Germany. The fact that Reds are targeted by Silvers simply because of these bands demonstrates how dangerous it can be to classify huge groups of people and pit them against one another.
Mare knows she must set aside Kilorn and the two thousand crowns in the interest of finding Gisa and escaping the city before the gates close. Mare worries because she sees what the Silvers are doing to other Reds, who (unlike Mare) have no doubt heard nothing of the Scarlet Guard until today. When Gisa finds Mare and discovers that she failed to get the money to save Kilorn, she impulsively tries to pick a Silver’s pocket. The Silver turns out to be a cloner, able to multiply himself. He multiplies to surround her and Mare. A security officer intervenes. When it becomes clear that Gisa has tried to steal money, the guard tells her, “You know the law, girl.” Mare protests that the theft was her idea. The officer ignores her, bringing the butt of his gun down to smash Gisa’s sewing hand.
Mare and Gisa have their differences, but they also prioritize one another over themselves. Gisa also prioritizes Kilorn over her own safety, in a move that parallels Mare’s . The fact that Gisa’s hand is smashed as a result of this fierce loyalty suggests that Mare’s own sense of loyalty might bring her to harm one day. The guard’s deadpan citation of the law as his reason for smashing Gisa’s hand makes clear that the law may be a written standard to govern justice, but it is not infallible or even necessarily moral. It should be questioned and must be carried out with sensitivity in order to truly uphold justice.