The 5th Wave


Symbols and Themes

Trust as essential to humanity/survival

          In the first chapter of the novel, Cassie tells us that the first rule of the 4th Wave is: Trust no one. Because there is no way to distinguish the Others from humans, the aliens have succeeded in dividing the entire human race against itself. It seems like a foolproof plan for victory. As Cassie states: “You can’t band together to fight without trust. And without trust, there was no hope. How do you rid the Earth of humans? Rid the humans of their humanity.” It is this conundrum that drives many of the characters’ actions, turning them against one another. The connection between the ability to trust and the ability to behave humanely is explicit. Cassie’s development as a character, and her growth as a human being, lie in her ability to trust another. Specifically, she must learn to trust Evan in order to survive. Ultimately, the trust that Cassie and Evan share, as well as the trust that Ringer and Ben are able to establish, ensure their continued survival. Through trusting one another, they are able to evade destruction by the aliens, as well as to achieve their goal of rescuing Sam. 

Motif of old science fiction references

Throughout the novel, the characters make references to science fiction adventure stories of the past, such as Star Trek and Star Wars. Mr. Sullivan believes at first, for example, that when the aliens make contact they will help to make the Earth a better place for humans, as in the utopian fiction of Star Trek. Of course, just the opposite is true. Sammy frequently plays with his Star Wars toys and, before the waves of alien destruction begin to hit, he thinks of every morning as Christmas morning because it feels like something good is about to happen. The motif of familiar science fiction references serves to highlight the tragic reality of the alien invasion, which is more horrifying and devastating than anyone could have...

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Essays About The 5th Wave