The Theme of Trust in "The Legend" by Marie Lu
“Trust but verify,” this was a famous quote said by the 40th U.S President, Ronald Reagan. June, one of the main characters in the book, Legend, learns how to apply this lesson to herself. In the novel, June is a 15-year-old, patriotic girl who has the mission of finding and capturing the treacherous villain, Day. As the story progresses, however, the actions of her government, the Republic, force her to trust Day more than them. Just like the quote says, June has to verify her trust in the government instead of having blind faith.
The author, Marie Lu, teaches us through June’s life that trust must be earned and can be lost easily. At the beginning of the book, June is a character who believes in the intentions of her government. Before June learns the truth about the plagues, a virus that is killing humanity, she strives to always help the Republic in any way possible. When the principal of Drake discusses her concerns about June, She thinks to herself, “better soldiers make for a better chance of victory for the Republic against the Colonies… And I feel like my afternoon drills aren’t teaching me enough about how to climb walls while carrying weapons”. June is willing to get expelled from her school just to be able to help the Republic succeed in their missions. She the perfect model of what every patriotic person should be like. The twist, however, is that she already believes the Republic is doing the best for her country, and so she is not willing to question the reliability of the republic. In a different matter, June hates the villain, Day, with a passion. Soon after Day broke out of the hospital, June finds out that he had supposedly killed her brother, Metias. Being very close to Metias, June is infuriated with Day, and even promises that “I will hunt Day down… I will trick you and deceive you, lie, cheat, steal to find you, tempt you out of your hiding place, and chase you until you have nowhere else to run. I make you this promise: your life in mine”. June is so enraged at Day that she is willing to break her moral code of not killing civilians unnecessarily. This shows how much of a monster Day is in her eyes. June’s anger at Day has gone beyond “just being patriotic” - at this point and is more a fierce hatred.
Towards the end of the story, June’s perspective of Day changes because he earns her liking. Soon, however, June loses her trust in the Republic and starts to trust Day because of what her government has done. Reading over some of Metias’ journal logs, June stumbles onto a line that turns her world upside down, “They, the Republic, pump that virus into the slum sectors through a system, sometimes directly into a few specific homes to see how it spreads”. June finally realizes that the real threat is the Republic and not Day, and so she decides to take action. When June is scheming an idea to break Day out of prison, Kaede, a member of the Patriots, asks June, “So you want revenge for your brother’s death or something? Gonna turn your back on the Republic for Day’s sake?’’ to which June replies, “I want justice. And I want to free the boy who didn’t kill my brother’’. As June learns more about the Republic’s situation, she does not continue on trusting them and decides to rebel. She cannot give herself any more reason to work for them because they have lost her respect. As people can see, June progressively places her trust in others not because she was taught too but because they earned her trust.
Marie Lu is able to convey her main theme through June’s experiences. First off, Day, her supposed enemy, earns her trust through his words. One example is when Day tells her the truth in the prison cell. In the prison, house Day tells June, ‘‘Your brother Metias. I didn’t kill him-I couldn’t have. Unlike you trigger-happy trots, I don’t kill people’’. June eventually goes on to look back at Metias’ crime scene photos, only to realize Day was telling her the truth. June’s belief in Day is also solidified when she realizes Day likes to help the innocent. Two instances of him trying to save people are when he gave bread to Tess and when he tried to get cures for Eden.
Lastly, unlike Day, June’s opinion about the Republic changes so much because they did not earn her respect. Her once loved government is the murderers of her father. While leaning this information from Metias, readers can imagine June’s horror at how the Republic would even kill people who work under them, such as herself, just because of a little suspicion. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg. June also learns from Metias that her government is the ones who spread the plague. With all this information in mind, there is no way that June can trust the Republic, even with all the years she had been subjected to the indoctrination. Just like June, many people in the real world are struggling to figure out a way to sort out the untrustworthy from the truthful. While June learns the hard way that trust should be earned, how can readers apply into their life?
Marie Lu presents the theme of trust should be earned and not given in her book Legend. When readers are first introduced to June, they are given a character who believes in the government, while hating whom she perceives as the unlawful criminal, Day. But as the story progresses, June’s perspectives of both the Republic and Day take a drastic turn. By the end of the story, June is a person who trusts people because they earned her trust, and not because she was told too. Marie Lu allows readers of the book to interpret what she writes and how to implement it in their lives.
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