In the course of the book, Connor and Risa get separated from Lev, who travels for a time with another character. Why do you think the author chose to split the narrative into two distinct threads? Explain and give specific evidence to support your answer.
Lev’s separation from Risa and Connor is very important in terms of his character development in the novel. First, Lev turns Risa and Connor in, and then he feels guilty, so he pulls the alarm. Unfortunately, he is unable to reach Risa and Connor to offer his apologies or explain himself. He runs because he doesn’t want to draw attention to himself (Chapter 18).
After Lev runs, he meets up with Cyrus Finch, or Cy-Fi. Cy is a highly intelligent kid who has part of an unwind’s brain as a result of epilepsy. At first, Cy helps Lev, the helpless, spoiled tithe understand how to survive. He shows him how to charm people instead of stealing from them. Lev learns important skills from Cy, but the most important thing he learns is that unwinding is wrong. After the two travel together for a while, Cy begins to steal things and act strange. Lev confronts him, and Cy confesses that it is “the other boy” making him do it. “The stealing makes me mad. I mean, here I am, a law-abiding citizen, never took nothing that didn’t belong to me my whole life, and now I’m stuck with this” (Chapter 21). As Lev continues to travel with Cy, he sees the toll having half an unwind’s brain takes on his friend. Cy is compelled to travel to Joplin, where the other boy grew up.
During the trip to Joplin, Lev becomes less helpless and more of a leader. More importantly, he realizes that unwinding is wrong. When the boys arrive in Joplin, the unwind’s brain has take over, and Lev watches his friend unearth a briefcase of stolen jewelry, put it at the feet of the unwind’s parents, and beg not to be unwound. It is at this moment that Lev sees how wrong it is to “unwind” someone. “TELL HIM YOU WON’T UNWIND HIM, OR I SWEAR I’LL BASH YOUR WORTHLESS HEADS IN!” (Chapter 31). In order for Lev to understand that the sacrifice being asked of him as a tithe is wrong, he has to spend time separated from Risa and Connor and find out in his own way.