In Chapter 13 we finally get to THE CAVES! (And the crowd goes wild!)
But first, Uncle Jeb has revived Wanderer enough so that she has regained her senses, but is so overcome with emotion that she does not even distinguish herself from Melanie. “‘Jamie, Jared!!’ Our whisper burned like a shout. ‘Jared was with Jamie. Our brother! Are they here?’” (At this point in the story it is difficult to tell who is controlling Melanie’s body because everything is written in the first person plural - “we.”)
Uncle Jeb tells Wanderer that Jared and Jamie never made it, leaves her some water, and tells her he’ll be back. When Jeb returns at dawn he has 5 men and 2 women with him, all holding make-shift weapons, all clearly unhappy with “lips twisted with hatred, pulled back over clenched teeth like wild animals.”
Wanderer and Melanie’s consciousnesses separate again; Melanie is overjoyed to see so many humans alive, while Wanderer sees only her impending death at the hands of these fierce humans. “We should have been wiser; we should have died yesterday.”
For the first time we learn that Wanderer has a secret, one that she has actually kept from Melanie. Wanderer uses Mel’s own trick of throwing up a “wall in [her] head to hide behind” and decides that she would have to kill herself before she would give up this information (which continues to be a mystery to the reader). We clearly learn Wanderer is no heroine in this way, however. The prospect of torture or suicide scares her almost beyond words. “I wasn’t as strong as Melanie; I had no doubt she could endure torture. How much pain could I stand before I gave them anything they wanted?”
Kyle steps forward to kill Wanderer, but Jeb stops him. ‘The one who must be Kyle’s brother’ (yay for the introduction of Ian!) also supports killing Wanderer but is slightly less fervent. When Kyle moves to kill her, Jeb pulls out his rifle and stops him. During this standoff, Melanie recognizes one of the women in the crowd and before Wanderer can stop her, blurts out “Aunt Maggie? You’re here? How? Is Sharon--“ Aunt Maggie immediately slaps her as hard as she can, which sends Melanie emotionally reeling. Maggie shouts “You won’t fool us, you parasite. We know how you work. We know how well you can mimic us.” The humans obviously think that Wanderer is a Seeker, so Wanderer begs Melanie to keep quiet.
After more tense moments, Uncle Jeb finally offers Wanderer his hand to help her up and says he is bringing her back to the caves. This elicits an outcry from all the humans. In response, we get the first of many of Jeb’s: “It’s my place. I’ll do what I want.” (Yay Uncle Jeb!) Jeb blindfolds Wanderer on Ian’s suggestion and leads her slowly by the hand across the desert.
Ian questions Jeb while they walk, saying “Please tell me this wasn’t about sympathy. After all you’ve seen…” Uncle Jeb replies, “After all I’ve seen, if I hadn’t learned compassion, I wouldn’t be worth much.” (Nice life lesson inserted in there.) Jeb finally admits that “curiosity” is what made him keep Wanderer alive.
After much more walking Wanderer realizes that they have entered some sort of enclosure, which happen to be our beloved caves. As Jeb guides Wanderer, she hears babbling noises which Melanie identifies as “many people arguing.” Jeb removes the blindfold and Wanderer enters a large room, somehow lighted, and the arguing gives way to complete silence. The room is filled with “a crowd of humans standing stock-still and silent, all staring at me with the same burning, hate-filled expressions.”
Melanie is excited to see so many humans and begins to count them. (She gets to at least 27.) Wanderer tries to remind her of how precarious their position is, but Mel is “lost in this human world she’d never dreamed was here.”
One man steps forward from the crowd, and though he holds no weapons, both of his hands are clenched into fists. Wanderer/Melanie begins to recognize his face and choke on “the sudden hope that dizzied [them].”
1. Why do you think Uncle Jeb tell Wanderer that Jared and Jamie never made it to the caves?
2. When Jeb tells Wanderer/Melanie that Jared and Jamie are not there their response is:
“No,” we whispered. We were not echoing him, we were protesting against getting our life back. What was the point? We closed our eyes and listened to the pain in our body. We let that drown out the pain in our mind.”
In the last chapter we saw Wanderer and Melanie referring to themselves collectively, but this seems to be to an even greater degree. Do you think that Wanderer considers Melanie’s life hers now (or at least hers and Melanie’s)? Who do you think is in control during this portion of the book? Has Melanie’s fervency taken over Wanderer? Is there any way to tell?
3. Are you at all surprised, looking back at how much Ian’s feelings changed about Wanderer? (I mean, he actually agreed with Kyle. Have we entered bizarre world?)
4. Since we've all finished The Host, we know what Wanderer’s secret is, but what did you think it was at this point in the book?
5. Do you think Wanderer did the right thing by keeping quiet and not telling the humans about Melanie? Do you think there was no way she could have convinced them she wasn’t a Seeker? Would you have done the same thing?
6. What did you expect Jared’s reaction to be when he saw Melanie’s body? (Or did you not realize the unnamed man was Jared until the next chapter?)
Feel free to discuss any other aspects of this chapter you want. These questions are meant to foster discussion, not limit it.
<< Chapter 12: Failed
<< Chapter 11: Dehydrated
<< Chapter 10: Turned
Chapter 14: Disputed will be posted by dhfreak on Thursday.