Hi everyone and welcome back to another chapter breakdown for why the Shatter Me series romanticizes abuse. If you’re interested, feel free to check out my chapter one and chapter two posts as they detail Juliette’s mental state, the importance of touch, Warner’s knowledge, and the introduction of Adam. Chapter three doesn’t really lend us a lot of new information about the abuses that Warner puts her through during the events of this book, however, it opens up a brilliant opportunity for character comparison.
Let’s talk about Adam.
This is a young soldier, likely hardened by the changes to his world, who has been given a direct order to infiltrate the mind of the supposedly insane inmate locked away for murdering a child. We, as readers, are not privy to the information that was given to him about Juliette, however, we can certainly infer based on the information given to us from the thoughts of young Juliette herself.
Juliette, from every turn, lets readers know what the world thinks of her. The struggles she faces with determining whether she is worthy of human affection clearly punctuate what the likely discourse is among those outside. She is inhuman, to be feared, according to not only her parents but to anyone who asks. She can kill with a touch. She has killed with a touch and this is why she has been locked away.
So, Adam’s first act upon meeting her was to pull some crazy sort of dominance asserting move. He hurts her without even knowing her in the interest of saving himself. There’s not a lot of tact there, but I suppose maybe he’s afraid of her so it makes sense. Fast forward, he has spent some time with her. She’s helped him on multiple occasions despite what he did the very first second he was pushed into her cell. She has shown herself to be a caring and considerate person, even in the face of someone who has not been.
What’s more, he has seen her trauma. He has seen what the world has done to her, the way she has been treated while living in the confines of her sell. He has seen the pain that she is going through. He has even experienced some of the treatment that she, herself, has been living with for nearly an entire year. Adam can empathize.
So, what does Adam do?
Now, I don’t know how many of you caught on to how utterly integral this moment was not only to Adam’s character but to Juliette as well. Not only has he decided that she is not someone he should be cruel to, but rather a good person whom he has wronged, but he makes an effort to set things right. He returns what he stole and gave her something of his. It might seem like an immeasurably small gesture, but it’s not.
The truth is that Adam is a genuinely kind person who learns from his mistakes. Mafi sets him up as the sort of person who considers others. He’s not selfish in only ever thinking of himself. He doesn’t project his own feelings onto other people as though they only exist in how he wants them to be. Adam is a good person who makes mistakes and owns up to them when he does. Now, Mafi eviscerates him later on by completely changing his character into something he never was, all for the sake of making Warner the abuser somehow look better. But, I’ll elaborate on the manipulation she did of her readers later once it’s more relevant.
And this is the first time in Juliette’s entire life since she got her powers that she has been treated like a human being.
For her part, Juliette waffles.
She’s not sure whether to be afraid of him or not. Throughout the entire chapter, she shifts back and forth between thinking of him as her companion and fearing that he is there to destroy her. There’s an irony, I think, in the fact that this boy who genuinely does know how to recognize and show kindness ends up being the misleading love interest. Naturally, we should all have assumed it would be the abuser who gets the girl with titles such as these. Despite the fear of being destroyed, she ultimately chooses the damaged boy who does destroy.
Juliette doesn’t know kindness. She has no concept for what it means to be cared for. She has only ever existed as something that people resent and fear. Her first experience with it is Adam. In a weird way, Juliette becomes the victim of abuse who cannot escape her abusers. As her parents have disappeared, she finds a surrogate for their role in her life in Warner. As the abuse, fear, and neglect she suffers at the hands of her mother and father are her sole experiences with those who were supposed to love her, it’s not wholly surprising that she seeks out abuse within her romantic relationship.
It’s just not healthy, in the end.