The Trials is a name given to a period of "reeducation" that foreigners must be subjected to in order to earn their place in the society that has been established on the island. It serves a threefold purpose:
- Demonstrate that human existence can be self-sustaining if all work toward the benefit of the community instead of the greed of the individual, which is a core component of socialism.
- Mentally and emotionally break the aspirant by forcing them to survive with almost nothing beyond what they can scavenge from the land, teaching them that commercialism is a lie and that one can survive without it.
- Prove to the community that the aspirant is willing to what is necessary to not only survive, but to embrace the ideals of the community and take his or her place among their ranks.
At the beginning of each aspirant's trials, he or she is stripped of all but basic clothing and left in an isolated location. The aspirant is provided with a fundamental map of the island, indicating that a "high tower" is the ultimate destination. While escape from the island is the assumed purpose of reaching the tower, certain documents (such as the Farewell Map) indicate that escape is not only improbable, but that reaching the tower is not likely to result in leaving the island.
All foreigners are forced to undergo The Trials, even the ones who lived there prior to their establishment. Some residents chose to flee. Other residents seemingly chose to depart the island on the threat of foreigners being allowed to complete the trials and join their ranks. Strangers to the island are also, with exceptions, forced to undergo the trials.
It is unclear at this time exactly what constitutes a "foreigner". Documentation left behind on the island indicates that there were some members of the community, or at least individuals who lived on the island, who were considered foreigners prior to the enactment of the trials. In the Last Pages of A Girl's Diary, dated April 11th, 1989, it is insinuated that those considered foreigners who wished to avoid the trials had to leave prior to their enactment. Page 3 of the document hints that the trials were enacted on April 14th, 1989.
The Old Unsent Letter was written after 1988 and indicates that there are only "... a couple more months before 'The Trials' are adopted...", placing its writing sometime in February of 1989. The letter mentions the avoidance of contact with foreigners. Page 2 of this document hints that this was a mandate from Brother Number 1.
The trial areas are divided into three primary purposes:
- Area of Deprivation
- Area of Purification (Not yet released.)
- Area of Deploration (Not yet released.)
Daphne must overcome all three areas in order to complete the task set before her by Brother Number One. Dave, who arrived with Daphne, is the only other aspirant who is currently known to have completed the Trial of Deprivation.