Summary and Excerpt

Summary and Excerpt

Summary of The Gardener

In a world unlike our own but very much on our planet, fifteen year old Anna Ellins has to find out the cause of death for her fellow classmates who are chosen to be Gardeners. While living in a society ruled by an authoritative Counsel, Anna must reveal the secrets of her chosen occupation as a Gardener in order to survive the ramifications of nuclear war and to solve a labyrinthine mystery that could save her entire community.

We follow Anna through her personal and physical journey, revealing a rebellious heart that questions her strict and formal society. Through Anna, we find that the human spirit is able to prevail and emerge with all of the unique traits of independence, survival and free-thinking…no matter what society dictates. This story questions our current abuse of the environment, the idea of nature versus nurture, and the psychological twists and turns of the science fiction genre.

The Gardener

by Christiana Kapsner

“Did you get your journal?” Mother asked.
“Yes, I got my journal,” I said, already bored with the idea of keeping a journal before my first word was written.
“Don’t take that tone with me, young Gardener,” she replied sternly. “That’s an important part of your job.”
“Yeah, yeah.”
I started walking away.
“You get back right now or your Father is going to hear about this!”
With a loud sigh, I returned to the compound kitchen and folded my arms across my chest.
“What?” I said irritably. “I got my journal. Take it easy, Mother.”
Her eyes dilated and her nostrils flared.
Land and soil, she looked ready to burst.
I felt pleased. All these years I’d been reprimanded, disciplined. All these years of preparation and Mother knew she was losing me to the Occupation and she could do nothing about it. A sense of assertive pride welled inside me.
“Your Father and I will be placing the first two entries. Don’t forget that or else the Counsel will—well—there will be severe consequences for you. Understand?”
A softness swept over her face as she held her hand out, gesturing for my journal.
Seriously? Would the Counsel punish me if Mother and Father didn’t include their entries?
“Okay,” I said reluctantly. I handed her the journal. I didn’t want to find out what would happen if I resisted.

Year 15:
Today I read the entries from Mother and Father. Why should Mother and Father begin my journal? I should be first. It’s my right as a Gardener.
To tell you the truth, Father’s entry did mean something to me. We spent a lot of time drawing together. He would watch me draw fields of wheat and flowers of red. We would laugh because those things don’t exist anymore.

“Gardener Ellins, please wait for me.”
I turned around and waited for Gardener Moore, a fellow student in the Gardening Unit. She walked serenely toward me, her dark blue headpiece neat and crisp around her head. I ran a finger across the stitching of mine, checking to make sure it was perfectly even.
“How are you, Gardener Moore?” I asked as she approached, feeling awkward that I had to greet another Gardener but protocol demanded our formal speech. After all these years, I still feel strange and I don’t know why.
“I am well, thank you. Did you finish your lab report from yesterday’s experiment?”
“I did.”
“Thank you.”
“You’re welcome.”
“We can combine our answers once we’ve reached the classroom.”
“Yes. Teacher would prefer that,” I said. “I was, however, confused with the properties I found in the formula on soil distribution.”
She nodded. “Yes, yes, I know what you mean. I was prepared for a purely alkaline result but something about the pH balance threw that theory to the stillness.”
“Indeed. Teacher won’t be pleased that we have an incomplete testing.”
We arrived at the Learning Center with the other Gardeners from our unit. We filed into the room, Teacher standing at the front. I slipped behind my desk and placed my hands against my heart as the other Gardeners did the same. In silence, Teacher walked between the aisles and inspected our uniforms. When she returned to the front of the room, we began our pledge. “For my Country, I serve as a Gardener, my employment to the State. For man, I conserve the use of energy and the level of personal waste for the betterment of living. To the Counsel, I pledge my Being. In return, the Counsel unites our efforts. As One, we conquer all evil.”
We sat and folded our hands on our desks.
“First, Gardener Unit One, we will be meeting Gardener Unit Two. Both Units will be combined and until Year 19, you are considered Gardener Unit Three-Eight-twenty-two. Please write that down. Three-Eight-twenty-two.”
I entered the four digit number into my palm pilot, barely able to contain my surprise. We were going to meet other Gardeners!
I glanced around. Everyone looked surprised too.
“Second. All of you received your journals yesterday. Your Mother and Father must have their entries included no later than this evening. No excuses. All of you are aware that your individual journals are absolutely private once your parents have written their entries. The Counsel will collect the annual journal at the end of each year. They will be sealed within your personal vault until you‘re thirty. I realize we’ve gone over this already. However, this particular protocol is–yes, Gardener Devant?”
I glanced at Gardener Devant. She had risen and bowed.
“May I question a comment?”
“You may.”
“My Mother and Father are absent for Parenting Guidance Classes. They won’t return until tomorrow.”
“Approach my desk, Gardener Devant.”
I fidgeted with my palm-pen. If I looked up, I would be chastised. I thought about the journal I would give to the Counsel. It didn’t seem fair that we had to turn our thoughts in to the Counsel and never see them again until we turned thirty.
I was suddenly glad that I had thought to keep a secret journal that no one else would ever see.
I heard rough whispers from Teacher, quiet pleas from Gardener Devant and then “very well Gardener. You may speak with the Counsel at 2 p.m.”
She shuffled back to her desk and I raised my eyes. Her cheeks were red but her mouth was serene. I felt her anger.
“This protocol is imperative,” Teacher continued. “The Counsel realizes that the Occupation chosen for you at birth, that being the Gardener, is a dangerous undertaking. Your journal is completely private to ensure that your every thought will be recorded. You are unique. You are the only Occupation given this privilege. Do not waste it.” She clasped her hands behind her back. “Gardener Winson, collect the lab reports. Unit Two will arrive in five minutes.”
I handed my lab report to Gardener Moore so she could put our reports together. I quickly gestured with my left hand. She looked at me confused. I gestured again. She shook her head. I tried once more and glanced down at my hand. Oops. I had just told her she was dumb. I switched to my index finger and pinky “we aren‘t done.” She gestured back “there’s nothing we can do.”
Sadly, our lab report, even combined, was incomplete because neither of us could figure out the formula. The results were something we didn’t understand.
“Your lab reports will be scored within two days,” Teacher said. “And now,” she said in a quiet voice. “Please honor Gardener Unit Two with proper decorum.”
Everyone stood and bowed as a single line of Gardeners began to ease into the Learning Center. Out of respect, we kept our eyes lowered but I could still see the hemline of female Gardeners’ smocks and the cuffs of male trousers.
“Greet your fellows,” Teacher commanded.
I raised my eyes and looked into the faces of youth much like my own.
Blue headpieces for everyone. Blue clothing for females, green for males. I didn’t know what to expect but there didn’t seem to be anything different about this unit.
“Gardener Unit Two, you are officially melded with Unit One. From this moment on, all of you are Unit Three-Eight-twenty-two. Everyone meet at the circle in two minutes.”
My unit, my original Gardening Unit, moved as one.
I felt a strange anger. I was curious about these people but at the same time, the other Gardeners were intruding.
Without speaking, we started walking to an adjoining room where a large black circle, painted on the floor, waited for us. We had been meeting at this circle for as long as I could remember…if someone told me that we had been meeting since I was born, I would believe them. All of us had turned fifteen this year and I could remember turning five with this same group, at this very circle. And now we were supposed to talk to another Gardening Unit in our circle?
“Even though all of you are Unit Three-Eight-twenty-two, please sit in a Unit One-Unit Two pattern. This way, if you are originally from Unit One, your left and right neighbor should be from Unit Two. Quickly now!” Teacher said with urgency.
We shuffled into place around the circle and sat accordingly.
“Questions may begin,” Teacher said, spreading her hands to encompass everyone in the circle.
“Why were we separated?” A foreign Gardener asked.
“Academic ability,” Teacher answered.
“Why are we combined now?” Gardener Devant questioned.
“To improve your social ties.”
“Are we changing lab partners or can we keep the one we’ve always had?” A brown-eyed Gardener from Unit Two asked.
“Every lab will be with a different partner until Year 19.”
There were groans and murmurs from everyone.
“If this displeases you,” Teacher said with a warning in her voice, “the questions may cease.”
Silence fell.
I wanted to ask the one question that might be punishable.
I wrestled with it for a moment. I had gotten into trouble with the Counsel because of my questions.
I eyed the other Gardeners.
Well, it was now or never.
“You say we were separated because of academic ability but our Creed states that no one is better than another. Who determines our ability if we were separated before our abilities were formed?”
A Gardener to my left gasped. Another Gardener clasped her hands tightly together.
Teacher frowned. “Gardener Ellins. That’s quite enough. The Counsel determines your ability according to the neurological readings that determine your Occupation at birth. This question deserves no other explanation.”
I looked into Teacher’s eyes and found disapproval but I couldn’t look away. For a brief moment, I had also seen fear.

Published on January 1, 2010 at 8:08 am  Leave a Comment  

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