Last time, the author does not know what genetics are or how it works, but she heard some people talking about them this one time.
Tobias apparently has recognized that there is nothing good to be found in the main plot and opens his chapter by chatting about how interesting it is to see how different people act when they wake up in the morning. He also makes an attempt to engage us in the Marcus’ trial issue.
Every series I do has its quirk, and I think this one’s is shaping up to be having a terrible grasp of reader expectations. Marcus is irrelevant. I spent all last book wondering why he hadn’t died yet and then I sort of assumed he actually did die in the final conflict but no somehow still not dead despite serving no plot purpose. It mattering to Tobias makes sense, but that doesn’t mean it matters to anyone else, and the author’s already milked the issue of Tobias’ feelings on evil daddy to death. If he isn’t able to shut up about it, then we should be spending our time in the head of someone more proactive.
Such a person is, apparently, not Tris, because she says she’s been sitting around not reading her mom’s data because what if it says things.
Abnegation children rarely know their parents in any significant way, because Abnegation parents never reveal themselves the way other parents do when their children grow to a particular age. They keep themselves wrapped in gray cloth armor and selfless acts, convinced that to share
is to be self-indulgent.
That doesn’t fit at all with the depictions back in the beginning of the first book. Remember? Suppertime was for the parents to talk about how they felt about everything, then after supper was for the kids to talk about how they felt about everything. From her dad’s on-camera rant about Erudite and Tris’ repeated acknowledgement that she learned Erudite are evil evil-faces from her dad, we know her dad at least revealed plenty, and she never indicated that was something weird about her dad and not normal for both parents. For that matter, knowing about her parents already is the only way that it makes sense to be shocked that her mom transferred from Dauntless or her dad was born Erudite – otherwise, it’d be normal for Abnegation kids to speculate about who their parents really were. Only if they were relatively open and boring about their post-choosing life would it make sense that Tris would assume their pre-choosing life was more of the same.
Also, what the fuck does Tobias know about “Abnegation parents”? Not only was his childhood clearly not a typical one, but even more damningly, we’re told repeatedly that he’s kept out of sight as much as possible and prevented from interacting with the community. His only real data point should be Abnegation kids at school – the adults were kept away by Marcus.
They agree that she should show it to Caleb, but that she can wait on it, and she begins to steal bits of his muffin, then invites him to get his genes tested. He compares it internally to being told to strip in front of a stranger, but goes along anyway because it’ll busy him during the trial.
You know what just occurred to me? Well, first it was “poor baby if only you knew alcohol could also help with that!” but then I remembered that he totally got drunk back at Dauntless, although ever since being elevated to a more major character there’s been no reference to it. So while he probably can’t get drunk here (I assume they do have alcohol, but he has no idea how to get it), he would know that it would’ve been a solution. His internal narration here should be bemoaning his inability to get smashed.
Then Tori’s brother arrives and they tell him she’s dead. And it goes on and on about how upset he is. Hopefully we end there and this stops short of making it a fridging. Also, Amar takes him off so hey, maybe gay people who are alive and not stuck crushing on a straight friend? Maybe.
Through the windows everything looks peaceful, every blade of grass trimmed and the wild trees swaying in the distance, and it’s hard to imagine that people are destroying one another out there because of “damaged genes”, or living under Evelyn’s strict rules in the city we left.
Whereas “every blade of grass trimmed” pings as dystopian control state just fine! I guess Tobias doesn’t have any real frame of reference. But what exactly is this telling the reader? I mean, things are so terrible that they can only do anything drop by drop, but they have time to water and fertilize vast swaths of grass, then mow it incessantly – presumably using fossil fuels, unless they’re using an even more insane amount of manpower.
This is the sort of thing that gets associated with military discipline, but military discipline is based around the idea you have a bunch of super-fit people with jack all to do until a fight starts, so you need to occupy them somehow and if that means rulers and scissors on the grass then so be it.
Anyway Tobias sees all the science and is all wait why are you sciencing I thought you just watched. Matthew explains that scientific watching includes recording the data and analyzing it, and also that hey, they have a lot of stuff that could use improvement.
some of them are also working on better ways to treat the genetic damage
“Ideally, ones that actually work in any meaningful way.”
Also more “serums”.
dozens of projects. All you have to do is come up with an idea, gather a team together, and propose it to the council that runs the compound under David. They usually approve anything that isn’t too risky.”
“Yeah,” says Tris. “Wouldn’t want to take any risks.”
So I guess the clipped grass is meant as a bad thing, maybe? Because….it’s bad to be careful, now? Even though this crisis obviously happened because last time they didn’t think stuff through?
“They have a good reason for their endeavors,” Matthew says. “Before the factions were introduced, and the serums with them, the experiments all used to be under near-constant assault from within.
Okay that’s sounding kind of like the people hated it and were fighting back.
It’s not that the people were constantly on the verge of, say, civil war, but that the experiment itself was under attack by the people within it. It’s entirely possible what he meant was in danger of collapsing, as the Chicago experiment is, but even the more charitable reading has him not distinguishing between “the experiment we decided to do to these people” and “the people who make up the experiment” and speaking as if, either way, there’s some sort of coordinated effort by those inside that needed to be thwarted.
What might be an interesting road to go down is to draw a comparison to the “Purity War” which also sounds like it could not possibly have been organized by the “impure” yet is being talked about in that manner, and revealing that the way history is currently being taught, the language used presupposes that the problems the “damaged genes” present are a deliberate and malicious campaign as opposed to individual mental illness, assuming there even is individual mental illness and this whole thing hasn’t just been rich people insisting that whatever the poor have been doing today is a sign they’re mentally ill.
He does claim the serums help the people in the experiment to keep things under control which suggests it’s for the internal good of people, but not much because all we know about their design for the experiments is draconian oppression, so “the people” he means may well be the five god-king council who force the rest of the population to toil in the salt mines and beat people to death for making eye contact, because the important part is that there’s order!
it’s in the Weapons Lab.”
“Weapons Lab.” He says the words like they’re fragile in his mouth. Sacred words.
But is this actually intended? I don’t have high hopes for this book, so I’m suspicious it’s just evil spillover. They’re definitely bad, but odds are it’s just going to be a more general government-is-evil-be-a-free-butterfly sort of thing.
He then claims that Erudite’s serum work was actually super useful for them, and for my sanity I’m going to keep assuming that he means in ways totally unrelated to the fact the serum transmitter is designed to dissolve into nothing after a few minutes use, because that’s obviously a really, really well-designed “flaw”. Also, he says the Erudite never cared about the memory serum, despite rewriting memories likely having so much to do with how the simulations work and also just being obviously super useful.
We did a lot more with that, since it’s our greatest weapon.”
See? See? It’s super useful, why wouldn’t Erudite be on that? You could easily say they wanted it and Abnegation refused to let them or something instead.
“A weapon,” Tris repeats.
“Well, it arms the cities against their own rebellions, for one thing—erase people’s memories and there’s no need to kill them; they just forget what they were fighting about. And we can also use it against rebels from the fringe, which is about an hour from here. Sometimes fringe dwellers try to raid, and the memory serum stops them without killing them.”
“That’s . . .” I start.
“Still kind of awful?” Matthew supplies. “Yes, it is.
What? No it’s not.
Look, in general, there’s some definite debate about how much of your life is your memory, and how deleting someone’s experiences is a lot like simply shortening their life. There’s also distinct potential for abuse in that you can do terrible things then erase their memory so they can’t protect themselves from you. But erasing the memory of people who stumble into the experiment as opposed to shooting them dead is not really a grey area, and assuming the whole experiment thing isn’t just fundamentally evil and the rebellions are crazy murder rebellions rather than totally justified, erasing people’s memories of just that seems pretty okay. I mean, imagine if every time some insane person decided it was a good idea to stab their way through an elementary school, we could erase their memories of having that idea instead of imprisoning them. The whole “damaged genes” thing supposedly made people who are unstable and will keep deciding to do bad things to each other, and that seems like the opposite of prison – you can remove the idea of committing the crime, rather than confining the person who wants to commit the crime so they can’t. Prison definitely is “kind of awful”, you know.
Well, maybe Tobias doesn’t. There’s “no crime” in living memory as far as he knows. There may not be prisons at all any longer, given this guy says the only other option to erasing memories is murder.
But the higher-ups here think of it as our life support, our breathing machine. Here we are.”
I raise my eyebrows. He just spoke out against his own leaders so casually I almost missed it. I wonder if that’s the kind of place this is—where dissent can be expressed in public, in the middle of a normal conversation, instead of in secret spaces, with hushed voices.
Your leaders were Abnegation, and Erudite and Candor dissented pretty fucking loudly.
Look, this book is running a who’s who of dystopian government types, but Tobias only grew up under one, his faction’s. Okay, his year or so as Dauntless was probably more stressful, but that wasn’t really about dissent, that was about secret murderers killing divergent, while your actual leaders were begging you to join them and wanted to know your opinions all the time. The Erudite coup attempt, the following chaos, and the factionless successful coup all happened in the space of a couple days. And even the successful coup only had secret space hushed voices (not very hushed even) for their counter-revolution plans, Tobias was talking at normal volume when visiting Tris.
Inside, a girl with light brown skin and a green jumpsuit is replacing the paper that covers the exam table.
“This is Juanita, the lab technician. Juanita, this is—”
Hm. I haven’t been keeping close track of the skin color to purity ratio, but I’m suspicious.
The girl also clarifies that she goes by “Nita”.
“Matthew’s supervisor is the only person who calls me Juanita. Except Matthew, apparently.
Which suggests she is indeed pretty low on the pecking order if the bosses ignore her and call her what they want. And indeed, Nita is from the failed experiment. She says Indianapolis is not far from here. Less than an hour by plane. which is maybe just supposed to be reminding us of how hilarious it is the Chicago people don’t know about planes, because the book goes on to remind us that, hilariously, the Chicago people don’t know about planes, but to me, it suggests that there is nowhere that’s not far at this point, so what in a populated country would be a vast distance is no big deal. Or just that there are a ton of plane flights and they’re free or something so she means “not far” as in “does not take too long to get there regardless of literal distance traveled”.
The DNA testing is done by extracting blood to HAHAHA NO IT’S BY INJECTION EVERYTHING IS A FUCKING INJECTION THE FUTURE IS NOTHING BUT INJECTIONS FOREVER.
Tris is quite reasonably creeped the hell out by the idea of getting injected with yet more.
Matthew nods. “I swear it’s just going to read your genes. That’s all it does. Nita can vouch for it.”
Oh good the person they’ve known for maybe one minute tops can vouch for it. Because I mean, they’ve only known you for ten minutes, easy to see how they wouldn’t trust you, but one minute stranger standing in the lab ready to inject you, she’s definitely not in on it!
“The fluid is packed with microcomputers.
“Microcomputers is a science word. They do science.”
“Well, when our predecessors at the Bureau inserted ‘corrected’ genes into your ancestors, they also included a genetic tracker, which is basically something that shows us that a person has achieved genetic healing. In this case, the genetic tracker is awareness during simulations—it’s something we can easily test for, which shows us if your genes are healed or not. That’s one of the reasons why everyone in the city has to take the aptitude test at sixteen—if they’re aware during the test, that shows us that they might have healed genes.”
Oh my god this actually makes partial sense!
Genetic markers are widely used. I won’t even snark at the word choice because, hey, words can change, especially after you blow up half your population, plus, this is obviously not our future but the future of some crazy idiots who don’t understand science, so they could have different terminology from the start.
And the idea the superpowers totally unrelated to the divergence aspect are in fact totally unrelated genes stuck together makes a lot of sense. Let’s just assume that Tris’ special brain that we spent so much time on last book that totally contradicts this is actually a matter of Jeanine not having enough of a sample size and just assuming whatever was weirdest about Tris was the cause of her problem. (And hey, nothing she did to target that ever worked, so that could actually have meant Jeanine was totally off-base.) I mean, this is a book about crazy idiots who don’t understand science.
I mean, it’s still jaw-droppingly stupid when you could just, like, jam in those jellyfish genes that cause glowing, you know, like actual science actually fucking uses, or, and this is just a thought, since your goal is divergent babies, go a modified version of the antibiotic-marker route they use with bacteria – something where there’s a gene that prevents the newly fertilized egg from dying upon exposure to some sort of minor toxin, then put that stuff in the water. We already know there’s toxins that produce early spontaneous abortions while not doing much to the adults, and your science is obviously on the more magic end of things, I’m sure you can figure it out. And bam, you’ve made sure they can only produce
aryan master race pure kids.
Also, why the fuck do you need a marker when the test already finds people who don’t slot into boxes properly?
Tobias is upset that he’s not special. This is literally his objection.
“The only problem with the genetic tracker is that being aware during simulations and resisting serums doesn’t necessarily mean that a person is Divergent, it’s just a strong correlation. Sometimes people will be aware during simulations or be able to resist serums even if they still have damaged genes.”
So what you’re saying is you’re shit at this. And this just highlights that your system is a waste of time, because there’s already a perfectly good “strong correlation” between getting a divergent score and being divergent.
I mean, okay, actual science does have occasional issues with this, but it’s not exactly common. Also, it’d have been really easy to have the marker thing only activate in the actual presence of whatever hormonal changes mark pure genes, in which case it could never give you a false positive.
Nita makes some sort of upset face at the idea of this, possibly because she is one such person. Nita then chats about how her experimental home was ended and she found going into the real world “overwhelming”.
“So I volunteered to come here.
Come to think of it, being partially staffed by your former lab rats seems insanely stupid. It’d be one thing if the experiments seemed to have any concern for the people’s wellbeing, but no, the metaphorical lab rats are treated with about the same actual consideration as actual ones.
I used to be a janitor. I’m moving through the ranks, I guess.”
She says it with a certain amount of bitterness. I suspect that here, as in Dauntless, there is a limit to her climb through the ranks, and she is reaching it earlier than she would like to.
Okay, but here unlike Dauntless, that may have something more to do with her lacking the proper education (they obviously crippled the knowledge of people inside their experiments) and possibly just being flat out unsuited for the jobs given she’s there because she couldn’t handle life outside and not because she was super suited to be a scientist.
The same way I did, when I chose my job in the control room.
You mean, deliberately refusing to take a higher rank? Is Tobias now insisting that because there was not specifically a sit-at-the-computer higher job to keep promoting him to and he just didn’t like any of the other jobs available, that’s exactly like being unable to move up in your job at all?
She describes her faction:
It had a lot of rules, though—curfew, wake-up times, safety regulations. No weapons allowed. Stuff like that.”
“Well, a few of the people inside still knew how to make weapons. They made a bomb—you know, an explosive—and set it off in the government building,” she says.
So that would seem to be pointing to the “assault from within” being aimed at destroying their evil government. I mean, it’s certainly possible it’s the bomb-makers that were evil, but if almost no one remembered how to make weapons, and yet the few people who did immediately aimed at the government, that does kind of suggest a major grievance with the government. I mean, it could’ve been that a few people remembered and then malcontents got/forced them to share, but no, it apparently goes straight from remembering how to blow something up to blowing up your government.
If anyone who can remember how to fight back does so, it’s probably an evil society.
They erased the memories of the bombers and relocated the rest of us.
So what happened to the bombers?
There’s two options here.
1) Memory wiped people get inserted into existing cities, which is insane because that means you’re putting the problem destroyed your last experiment into your healthy ones while removing the non-problem people, especially when you’re erasing the memories of people whose memories didn’t erase right the first time around. The only way this makes sense is if they acknowledge totally wiping your memory is entirely too close to killing you, and totally wiping people’s memories is required to continue the experiment, so they won’t do it to just anyone who’s been born into the experiment, only criminals. (Also, it seems like at least some other people would consent, from a mixture of a not knowing what to do in the outside world and a desire to fix how horrible and broken and evil and did we mention broken you’re broken our science says so your genes are evil and the cause of everything terrible.)
2) “Erasing the memories” is somewhat of a euphemism and they’re now braindead.
“I’m sorry,” Tris says softly. Sometimes I still forget to look for the gentler parts of her. For so long all I saw was the strength, standing out like the wiry muscles in her arms or the black ink marking her collarbone with flight.
I feel like this is kind of an author comment, like, hey look guys she’s not OOC okay stop bitching people have facets. But it’s totally valid! Tris was not particularly nice right after leaving Abnegation, but as I said back then, Abnegation seemed like it was designed to fuck up a kid’s empathy rather than nurture it and she obviously needed a bit of decompression. Tris seems like a basically ordinary person who’s really level-headed in a crisis and likes doing exciting stuff, and therefore she should have basic ordinary person responses to another person recounting a tragedy.
Tris wonders why no one’s done anything about their city. Maybe my memory wipe speculation is actually on the ball here, they’re okay wiping minutes or hours but erasing a whole person’s life is something you don’t do without consent, leaving them no real way to handle the situation – even if they just march in and stop everything, revealing their presence ruins the experiment and it’s probably really hard to get people to sign up for these things.
Nita says that it may just be that the Chicago one was like their one success and they don’t want to admit it’s gone pear-shaped.
“I like to think I would have chosen Dauntless,” says Nita. “But I don’t think I would have had the stomach for it.”
“You’d be surprised what you have the stomach for, when you have to,” Tris says.
They do sort of beat it out of you. In fact, assuming I’m right that the Dauntless fear sim prevents PTSD (which is like the only reason to provide them it as part of experimental stability, come to think of it) they’re really good at molding people into unflinching murderers. (Which is indeed something you need at times!)
Back to “science”.
“This program helps us to interpret the data in an understandable way. What you see here is a simplified depiction of a particular DNA sequence in Tris’s genetic material,” he says.
The picture on the screen is a complicated mass of lines and numbers, with certain parts selected in yellow and red. I can’t make any sense of the picture beyond that—it is above my level of comprehension.
“These selections here suggest healed genes. We wouldn’t see them if the genes were damaged.” He taps certain parts of the screen. I don’t understand what he’s pointing at, but he doesn’t seem to notice, caught up in his own explanation. “These selections over here indicate that the program also found the genetic tracker, the simulation awareness. The combination of healed genes and simulation awareness genes is just what I expected to see from a Divergent.
Right then. So Tris the divergentest divergent is a divergent. God, I wish the reveal had been that she’s legitimately Dauntless, what with that actually being her characterization and all.
Well, no, that’s not what I wish. That’s what’d have made sense and been most consistent with her personality and the story. What I wish is that she has the “broken” Abnegation and Dauntless genes, which is why she’s a helpful Dauntless. Maybe we learn that the real problem is that the genetically modified people got the full supergene pack, but the genes interfere with each other – environmental factions determine which switches on, and it then keeps the rest off. So one aspect of your personality is ramped way up and it ends up dominating the other aspects to the point you ignore or outright reject them.
And she’s not the only one. What the people outside have been assuming was the faction system making it so you can’t tell the difference between the pure/impure is actually that this has been happening to a lot of people, but they couldn’t accept the idea that people with “broken” genes could end up just as stable those with “pure” genes and assumed it was the faction system. Either the faction system is irrelevant and what matters was an early mutation – maybe they used a slightly different batch of gene therapy on each community (since we know their gene therapy is shit and the whole experimental society bit makes it clear they’re at the stage of throwing everything at the problem and seeing what sticks) and it happened to disable whatever the interference between the genes was instead of turning them off completely – or this is happening everywhere but they don’t realize it because the rest of the experiments were basically prisons designed to oppress anyone with “broken” tendencies, and so inevitably became explosive pressure cookers.
The end result is that actually, making people be smarter, braver, more honest, more peaceful and more selfless is a great idea and they just botched the execution the first time. And now that several generations have refined those genes into something halfway functional, the now more stable smart people can fix the process and apply it to people again, and also this time they’re smart enough to not just start injecting it into every person who makes less money than they do while rambling about how it’s their fault society isn’t perfect.
Anyway Tobias is one of the broken.
Your genes are still damaged
Note the plural! See, all my speculation above hinges on something very obvious that I don’t think ever occurred to the author – the Dauntless/Erudite/Candor/Amity/Abnegation genes must all be different, but even if the original gene therapy only gave people one faction’s set, the fact people can move between groups means there’s genetic mixing. So you could be “fixed” in the Erudite pack (like Tris so obviously is) but still have the Candor pack active.
Yet Tobias, who seems to be Abnegation by general personality and Dauntless by necessity, apparently has nothing but damaged genes. Somehow. Are we going to get a retcon on why his dad was so sure he was different?
This might make slightly more sense if we assume each set is the same size and in exactly the same spot. In that case, you could only have a maximum of two, and it’s likely that the initiation/factionless system might have originally been designed to weed out heterozygous, either because these people’s grasp of science is poor enough that they assumed those people were “more broken” for having two different types of broken genes or just because they couldn’t fit in well enough to the faction system and it was the faction system keeping things relatively calm. This would even fit with the mention early on in the first book and never followed up on that Abnegation kids seem to be getting more inconclusive results than the other factions. Abnegation’s initiation not only allows everyone in but appears to be impossible to fail, which means people with a mixed set stay in the population and produce mixed kids. And those kids would then be more likely to fail initiations for other factions, creating tension and encouraging the attitude at Abnegation that kids shouldn’t switch factions.
Hell, it even fits with Tris’ pre-retcon backstory! Her mom was homozygous Dauntless, her dad was heterozygous Abnegation/Erudite. She got Dauntless/Abnegation (protective soldier), her brother got Erudite/Dauntless (unflinching scientist).
(None of this can fit with Tris’ mom being “mostly pure” which means there must be gradations.)
you have a genetic anomaly that allows you to be aware during simulations anyway.
IT’S NOT AN ANOMALY IT JUST MEANS THE AWARE-GENE MOVED ACROSS CHROMOSOMES AND THE OTHER BIT DIDN’T IT MUST HAPPEN ALL THE TIME OR IT WOULDN’T BE SO COMMON YOU WOULD TEST FOR IT REGULARLY
HELL YOU PROBABLY DIDN’T EVEN PUT THE TWO NEXT TO EACH OTHER YOU WERE PROBABLY LIKE “THEY’RE ON THE SAME CHROMOSOME SO THEY’LL SHOW UP TOGETHER” AND YOU STUCK THE “FIX” GENE IN THE CENTER SO IT CAN FIX EVERYTHING AND THEN STUCK THE “AWARENESS” GENE ON ONE TIP SO IT CAN SEE BETTER AND THEN WERE LIKE FUCK HOW DO WE KEEP GETTING PEOPLE WHO JUST HAVE THE AWARENESS GENE IT’S THIS BIZARRE ANOMALY!
You have, in other words, the appearance of a Divergent without actually being one.”
“Including the personality of one. I mean, if we were just trying to get normal functioning people out of this, you’d totally be one. But the test says you’re not
racially genetically pure, so who cares.”
I guess I always knew there was something wrong with me, but I thought it was because of my father, or my mother
Well. I was wondering if this story would fully commit to the idea the battered wife is exactly as terrible as the abusive father, and yes, yes it has.
And this means that the one good thing my father had—his Divergence—didn’t reach me.
Did we find out about this before? I may have just blocked everything about Marcus out under a tide of WHY AREN’T YOU DEAD YET. Wait, was it Jeanine’s stalker-wall? Because that proves nothing, she didn’t even know what divergence really was.
Also, we just learned that “non-broken” divergence and “Divergence” are just correlated rather than being actually the same thing, so how does Tobias know he didn’t just inherit his dad’s “appearance of a divergent”? Also also, obviously whatever genetic fix attempt there was on Marcus it wasn’t exactly what you’d call a success, so inheriting Mom’s broken but non-abusive genes seems like a positive.
I mean, really, if you’re relatively sure he was “fixed” that should just make you really conflicted about if it’s better to have his “fixed” personality genes when he’s monstrous or “broken” personality genes when that means you share them with the saner people.
Come to think of it, how does the inheritance work here? If it’s recessive, Tobias has a solid half “fixed” genes. Assuming they’re set to only ever have one copy active, he’s still pretty decent genestock because half his kids will have the “fixed” genes. In order for all his genes to be broken, it has to be dominant, at which point all most divergents are presumably heterozygous and the scientists are idiots for not sticking a recessive marker gene on there to tell the difference.
Nita is upset by this, and then suggests Matthew should go do his research elsewhere and when he says he wants to chat with Tris and Tobias, repeats herself more firmly. He goes away.
Tris says it changes nothing.
“So you’re telling me this affects nothing,” I say. “The truth affects nothing.”
“What truth?” she says. “These people tell you there’s something wrong with your genes, and you just believe it?”
Tris makes a modified version of the argument I keep making! Even assuming these people aren’t outright lying, we have no reason to believe they’re actually right.
“It was right there.” I gesture to the screen. “You saw it.”
Okay so new theory – Tobias was supposed to be Abnegation/Candor, and he’s fucked up from being raised in a household that revolved around lying in every form. One of Tobias’ more understated personality traits has been taking things at face value. He’s told Amity are peaceful and all come to unanimous decisions and is singing their praises until he’s shown explicitly what cost that has, rather than having the faintest suspicion to start with. In his stories, he’s adamant that Tris’ family is a perfect Abnegation family based on how they look on the surface, even though the same can be said of his own. Even dealing with his mom, knowing he needs to lie, his narration says that he tries to find ways to dodge questions instead. And now, the people in lab coats say stuff he doesn’t understand, but there was a thing on the screen! It must be true.
(It might even explain the weirdness of the knife scene retelling where he gets mad she doesn’t understand the thing he didn’t tell her – he’s not really wired properly to understand people believe lies. He was thinking the truth and normally would’ve said it in the same breath, except for his abusive upbringing means he doesn’t actually vocalize it. This could further fit with how even the other Dauntless seemed to think he was a bit unpredictable – someone who won’t explain but keeps reacting as if he told you already would look like someone who blows up at you over nothing.)
(Ooh, maybe that’s what “broken gene” Candor normally act like! The people around them try to get them to stop saying everything that comes into their heads, and they learn that lying is necessary to succeed, but the think->say connection is so strong that even if they keep their mouths shut, they subconsciously feel as if they’ve told the other person. By adulthood, they’d come off as extremely temperamental, plus they’d probably feel really stressed all the time. Look at how much Tobias agonized over Dauntless not knowing the real reason he joined, and how relaxed he was to be with the factionless where he no longer had to pretend to be anyone in particular.)
…anyway Tris has no actual argument for “a thing we didn’t understand was on a screen” because she’s just arguing from the emotional standpoint of not caring herself and still loving him, rather than the rational standpoint that this is probably all bunk and are they even real scientists or just people who bought lab coats? Fitting with my theory, Tobias can’t let it go because he’s sure it’s objectively true, a guy AND a computer both said so! He walks away to wallow in his misery. Nita follows.
“No pressure, but I’d like to talk to you about all this . . . genetic-damage stuff. If you’re interested, meet me here tonight at nine. And . . . no offense to your girl or anything, but you might not want to bring her.”
oh god we’re love triangling nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo
“She’s a GP—genetically pure. So she can’t understand that—well, it’s hard to explain. Just trust me, okay?
I mean at least the author evidently gets that this is all racist as hell, but now it’s trying to port in racism when they were both raised in a society where this doesn’t matter and Tris will probably reject completely on the basis it involves science and she hates that stuff. She would totally be down for your meeting about how the GP suck and need to be overthrown, just point out they’re the ones in lab coats and you’re pretty much good. But no. Love triangling. Why.
(As a final note, I was working on this in short bits, and every time I came back to it I forgot it was Tobias and thought the narrator was Tris again.)