by Marissa Meyer

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Last Updated on September 5, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 695

The cyborg draft had been started by some royal research team a year ago. Every morning, a new ID number was drawn from the pool of so many thousand cyborgs who resided in the Eastern Commonwealth. Subjects had been carted in from provinces as far-reaching as Mumbai and Singapore to act as guinea pigs for the antidote testing. It was made out to be some sort of honor, giving your life for the good of humanity, but it was really just a reminder that cyborgs were not like everyone else. Many of them had been given a second chance at life by the generous hand of scientists and therefore owed their very existence to those who had created them. They were lucky to have lived this long, many thought. It’s only right that they should be the first to give up their lives in search for the cure.

The cyborg draft is actually a cover for Dr. Erland's attempt to find the Lunar heir. Many cyborgs die in the draft process, and most of them did not willingly submit to testing. Cinder is horrified when she finds out that he knew the entire time that none of the vaccines would work. The attitude of the public toward cyborgs contributes to their feelings about the draft; most people are prejudiced against people with any amount of cyborg technology. Cyborgs are seen as second-class citizens and their unwilling deaths are of no concern to most people in the Eastern Commonwealth. This cruel attitude is echoed by many of the people in Cinder's life, including her stepmother.

With the queen gone, Cinder expected the crowd to take up their protests again, even angrier that she had dared show herself. But they didn’t. Slowly, as if sleepwalking, the crowd began to depart. Those with signs let them fall to the ground, to be trampled and forgotten. Cinder pulled back against the wall bordering the palace, out of the way as the citizens meandered past.

So this was the effect of the Lunar glamour, the spell to enchant, to deceive, to turn one’s heart toward you and against your enemies. And amid all these people who despised the Lunar queen, Cinder seemed to be the only one who had resisted her.

Cinder doesn't know that she has the ability to use Lunar glamour; she doesn't even know that she's Lunar. However, in this moment, she experiences firsthand the true power of this type of manipulation. A major issue that Cinder (and others) have with the Lunar people is their use of glamours to control those around them. Glamours used by strong individuals like Levana can be a powerful tool, but they are not invincible. Cinder is Lunar, which allows her to see through Lunar glamours; glamours also cannot translate over screens, and the abundance of technology on earth makes it more difficult for Levana to control how she is perceived by others.

The doctor must have seen something change in her face for he lightly tapped her wrist again, then stood with the groans of old joints growing older. "I believe in you," he said as he reached the doorway and rapped on the grate. "And whether or not he knows it right now, Kai believes in you too."

Cinder spends much of the novel not believing in herself. In a way, she internalizes the worst things that people around her think of cyborgs, as well as the abuse she's endured from her stepmother. She ultimately realizes that if she's to succeed, she must unlearn and reframe these negative thoughts and prevent what Levana wants most: for Cinder to give up and be executed. Though Cinder isn't ready to become the Lunar heir quite yet, she comes to understand that the cruel, manipulative, and discriminatory behavior of Levana, the Lunar people, and even those in the Eastern Commonwealth cannot continue unchallenged. The first step (of many) in her journey to take on Levana is to escape from prison and meet up with Dr. Erland. By the end of the novel, Cinder has achieved notable personal growth, and it seems even the doctor can sense her newfound confidence.

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