Allegiant Ch27-Ch31

Okay, so Nita is evil. Shock.

Nita is currently showing that evil by threatening the head of this place to let her in. Then they shoot him in the leg to get him to talk. It’s interesting that this is evil when in current culture it’s downright heroic for the good guys to torture people extensively for information they might theoretically know, but it’s wrong for the bad guys to hurt someone to get information they definitely know. Nita then goes for conventional torture with a serum.

“Thought you said that stuff doesn’t work on him,” the man with the gun says.
“I said he could resist it, not that it didn’t work at all,” she says. “David, this is a very potent blend of truth serum and fear serum. I’m going to stick you with it if you don’t tell us the pass code.”

No, he can’t, unless he’s a descendant of those inside the fence. The “divergence” traits everyone recognizes were added in on top of the “fix”. Plus divergents still can’t normally do more than delay responding for a few seconds, and even super Tris could barely conceal information. Furthermore, the truth serum already includes a compulsion to speak, so you don’t need to threaten them for it, while the fear one makes you hallucinate and babble nonsense, so it would just interfere with getting the actual info. (And also, Tris’ description of how the serum works is that you answer in part because you’re too dopey to remember not to, so fear could easily override it entirely.)

(Interestingly, one of the people there is red haired. This may be the author showing they include white people, or it may be the that the author hates the Irish. The whole pure vs impure metaphor is just one giant trainwreck and again, what the fuck editors.)

So David, who again, pretty sure he’s evil so this is just an asshole pileup and nothing to be worked up about, is now going nuts and babbling stuff about “don’t do it” and “her, the name” which will probably turn out to be foreshadowing for something else, but maybe not, maybe that will just be another ball dropped. He seems to be pointing at her in the process, and so with them about to notice her, Tris figures it’s acting time and starts shooting. For some reason, this time she avoids headshots and aims to cripple.

Then, showing yet again that Tris is wholly capable of intelligence and just doesn’t like bothering, she takes David as a hostage, pointing out that she has no loyalty to the head of some group she didn’t even know existed last week. They need one guy alive to kill lots of other people, so hey, bullet to the head seems like a good idea from where she’s standing. This appears to be mostly a bluff but I choose to think that if necessary, Tris would’ve done it. She manages to get the both of them most of the way away before David gets shot again and she gets them both around the corner. Also, she gets shot in the arm yet again. She really needs to look into armor.

Anyway, the “good guys” then arrive to stop the “bad guys” so she is yet again today’s hero.

“Any updates on David?” I say.
“He’ll live, but it will take him a long time to walk again,” she says. Her lips stop puckering, just for a few seconds. “Could have been a lot worse, if you hadn’t been there. You’re all set.”
I nod. I wish I could tell her that I’m not a hero, that I was using him as a shield, like a wall of meat. I wish I could confess to being a person full of hate for the Bureau and for David, a person who would let someone else get riddled with bullets to save herself.

But she could’ve simply retreated or even said she was on their side, chill already, and she drags him out after he’s down.

And I can’t say for sure if the author means this to be Tris being unnecessarily harsh on herself, but it just doesn’t matter, you know? It doesn’t matter if the author actually thinks Tris is terrible for not being an even better person, or if she just thinks girls have to pay for heroics by thinking they’re pieces of shit the whole time. It still results in the hero of the story not being set as anything to aspire toward and making sure girls never get protagonists that tell them it’s okay to have pride in themselves.

Worse, this doesn’t even take into account what the readers get.

When I was in middle school, one of my friends read Animal Farm and didn’t really understand how the story the characters told as time went on would keep changing, so she just accepted each new revision. This gets into age-appropriateness of books. The younger and more inexperienced the reader, the less likely they’re going to be able to see anything but what they get on the surface. People have to work their way up.

So even if the author meant that Tris’ recounting of events isn’t entirely in line with the events we actually saw, it doesn’t matter. If you polled the readers on what actually happened, they’re more likely to repeat Tris’ version, which was shorter, came after the first one, and comes pre-packaged with an opinion on it.

Tris looks around the hospital to see that all the injured are support staff. This suggests that either the pure made the loyal underclass do the risky fighting or that the pure are so overwhelmingly more powerful that they can easily crush any rebellion and none of the people in the hospital right now were the “good guys” which also in turn means that the evil murder rebellion did a lot better at minimal casualties than the good aryan status quo.

She then finds Christina to tell her what little is known about Uriah

“There’s still no update on Uriah. I couldn’t get into the room.”
“These people make me crazy, you know that?” she says. “They won’t tell anyone anything. They won’t let us see him. It’s like they think they own him and everything that happens to him!”
“They work differently here. I’m sure they’ll tell you when they know something concrete.”
“Well, they would tell you,” she says, scowling. “But I’m not convinced they would give me a second look.”
A few days ago I might have disagreed with her, unsure how influential their belief in genetic damage was on their behavior. I’m not sure what to do—not sure how to talk to her now that I have these advantages and she does not and there’s nothing either of us can do about it.

Several things of note here.

First, notice that Tris says she would disagree with Christina saying they’re prejudiced solely on the basis Tris does not yet have any idea if they are or aren’t. This maps nicely onto the idea that saying someone is racist is a much bigger deal than them being racist, and so requires the greater burden of evidence.

Second, Tris only feels otherwise because she is currently experiencing herself the difference in treatment she can’t rationalize – despite her best efforts seen here by telling the other person that she’s sure there is no such thing going on. People of the group being oppressed telling her so apparently counts for nothing, and she’ll keep denying it to them rather than supporting them.

Third, Tris, who has no problem taking part in a civil war against another faction and an uprising against the new government that followed, then listened to someone outlining their own rebellion plans to deal with it, then took part in thwarting those plans, believes “there’s nothing either of us can do about this”. Not even that she doesn’t know what can be done, which would already be absurd enough, but that there is, objectively, nothing anyone can do to change it. It’s not that she likes being privileged! It’s just that it’s how things work and will keep working forever, but she’s sorry about it. Also, she needs to shoot some people trying to change it.

Even in a work where this was all intended to highlight these things (which this is not because they are not, in the slightest, highlighted) this would still just be crappy writing because this behavior is the behavior of someone born into the system and then realizing the things they took for granted aren’t as good as they thought, but having no idea any alternative is possible. Tris, in stark contrast, spent her entire life in a world where people like Christina were on top, and has since seen a flurry of reversals – Erudite taking over from Abnegation, the factionless uprising to take over everyone else, and finally the discovery that the endangered and distrusted divergent are on the outside members of the upper class. She knows that there is another system, because she spent her life in it, and she knows change is possible, because the last month has been nothing but changes upon changes.

We end with Tris finding out that Tobias was arrested. I’m not sure why this is even a conversation, because Tris’ response is basically oh right, duh.

Next chapter, it’s Tobias, being sad and arrested.

Tris appears. The guards recognize her as the hero of the day, and so let her chat quickly with one of their prisoners and say BTW that side character we care about is in a coma.

You know, even though I feel the book doesn’t actually characterize it enough for me to care, it should still work on the basis I can understand they’d care about it. But in execution, there’s the problem that the whole setup was a pile of stupid, so that overshadows everything. I can’t even be invested in their feelings on events, because I can’t treat those events as real in the first place.

They were after poison—death serum. So that they could kill a bunch of important government people and start a war.”
I look down, at my hands, at the tile, at the toes of her shoes. A war. “I didn’t know—”

I mean, okay, I know this is possibly the worst series I’ve ever seen as far as continuity goes, but war is the thing we spent the last two books on.

They put all the others under truth serum, but not me. The genetic anomaly that makes me aware during simulations also suggests I could be resistant to serums, so my truth serum testimony might not be reliable. As long as my story fits with the others, they will assume it’s true. They don’t know that, a few hours ago, all of us were inoculated against truth serum. Nita’s informant among the GPs provided her with the inoculation serum months ago.

You know what’d have helped? Volunteering this information. If the evil rebellion is actually evil and actually taking advantage of the reliance on truth serum, then it’s wrong to hide that information.

Given your newness to this community, your ignorance of the master plan, and your genetic deficiency, we are inclined to be lenient. Your sentence is parole—you must work for the good of this community, and stay on your best behavior, for one year. You will not be allowed to enter any private laboratories or rooms. You will not leave the confines of this compound without permission. You will check in every month with a parole officer who will be assigned to you at the conclusion of our proceedings. Do you understand these terms?”
With the words “genetic deficiency” lingering in my mind, I nod and say, “I do.”

“Can I ask what’s going to happen to Nita?” I say.
Angela presses her lips together. “Once she recovers from her substantial injuries, she will be transferred to our prison and will spend the duration of her life there,” she says.
“She won’t be executed?”
“No, we don’t believe in capital punishment for the genetically damaged.” Angela moves toward the door. “We can’t have the same behavioral expectations for those with damaged genes as we do for those with pure genes, after all.”

I actually like this concept, in moderation.

There’s two types of prejudices. One is the kind where, no matter what the setup, events are just interpreted to make it be the oppressed who was the problem. Like, say, women making less than men. If they don’t have a family, then why give them that bonus/pay raise you give the married guy expecting a kid? But if they have a family they’re obviously going to do a terrible job or quit, so why give them a bonus/pay raise?

But you’ve also got the type where the prejudice is more official, but in return, things actually follow logically one to the next, like this. In the first type, the genetically damaged would be treated as children with no rights when it came to making their own decisions, but the punishments would be worse for them because why bother when they’re inherently bad. Here, there don’t seem to be any of those reversals. This is much closer to how we deal with the mentally ill – there’s prejudices, but also protections.

That said, the second type is really not the main face of prejudice, what with that being characterized by irrationality and making sure things always work out worst for them. In a story that was doing a great job of deliberately showing this off, including this sort of nuance would be great, but in this one, this is the only real explicit statement of prejudice we’ve seen.

What’s weird is that this seems to also be taking place in a world where prisons have no correctional purpose (otherwise, it’d make more sense to kill the “damaged” who can’t change because genes and imprison the “pure” in the hopes they could reform). My guess is that “prison” means they’re going to mindwipe her and put her in one of the experiments again.

Back to Tris, Uriah, still in a coma. He’s now in another room and Christina gets to sit with him because they think he might be in one of those comas where you can hear. This is stupid because they have computers that can talk directly to people’s brains, so if there’s any brain activity, they can read it. Given their ability to manipulate the brain’s responses, they could probably jumpstart the brains pretty easily too.

“Though I was told his prognosis is not good.”
Sometimes I still want to smack her. As if I need to be reminded that Uriah is unlikely to recover.

So it’s the Erudite that are supposedly struggling with empathy, but no one seems to even consider the possibility that this is being said because the evil intellectual is worried and expressing concern, because empathy goes one way. Cara is evil for not knowing Tris doesn’t want to hear this, Tris is good for not considering that Cara is probably saying the best thing she can: don’t get your hopes up and brace for the worst now.

This is what I’d want to hear. If people are just saying they’re sure he’ll get better but this assurance means nothing because they say that about anything, that’s more stressful than being told he’ll probably die, because at least you know where you stand with that.

If you know someone well, you might be able to tailor your responses to that, but otherwise it’s pretty hard and ultimately, if something doesn’t help, you need to tell them that and not make your failure to communicate their fault. People tell my family they’ll pray about (issue) and we don’t want to smack them just because we’re atheists and this means nothing to us, we recognize the sentiment for what it is.

This sort of rigidity might make sense for the factions, but Tris is supposedly divergent with Erudite tendencies and should be better, not worse.

Cara compliments her for being good in a crisis, and further highlighting my issue, Tris is shocked that an Erudite can praise her. Cara is all, what, seriously?

“Additionally, I think our issues are now resolved, both on a logical and an emotional level.” She clears her throat a little, and I wonder if it’s finally acknowledging that she has emotions that makes her uncomfortable, or something else.

Tris.

You killed her brother. He is dead. This was like a month ago, after her faction brainwiped her brother to murder people.

It’s not that she’s HOW DO YOU EMOTIONS here. It’s the complete opposite, she’s handling her emotions really well (and has been the whole time) but referencing her brother’s death is still difficult, even indirectly.

You are the one who comes off as barely understanding human emotion here.

Tris fills Cara in about Jeanine plagiarizing her serum and apparently that’s not issue in Erudite science, because it just leads in to Cara talking sadly about how it’s just been deception reveal after deception reveal, and we’re only halfway through the book.

The author’s response?

“So you don’t think any of it was worthwhile,” I say. “Any of the Allegiant stuff.”
“You do?”
“It got us out,” I say, “and it got us to the truth, and it was better than the factionless commune Evelyn had in mind, where no one gets to choose anything at all.”

It moves the plot dammit.

“I suppose,” she says. “I just pride myself on being someone who can see through things, the faction system included.”
“You know what the Abnegation used to say about pride?”
“Something unfavorable, I assume.”
I laugh. “Obviously. They said it blinds people to the truth of what they are.”

The Abnegation continue to embody the hypocrisy of people proud at how only they understand how bad pride is. Cara says their faction manifesto says the same thing, and Tris is all whoa wait something decent in Erudite?! because there is no shooting going on right now so by god she will not be turning her brain on.

Next chapter, Tobias decides to celebrate his probation by heading right back into the control room so he can spy on his former city. And there is Marcus, who was not properly exiled because no one is competent, here to join up with Johanna and her rebellion.

“I spoke to some of my Candor friends,” Johanna says. “They told me what your boy said when he was under truth serum. That nasty rumor Jeanine Matthews spread about you and your son . . . it was true, wasn’t it?”
My face feels hot, and I shrink into myself, my shoulders curving in.
Marcus is shaking his head. “No, Tobias is—”
Johanna holds up a hand. She speaks with her eyes closed, like she can’t stand to look at him. “Please. I have watched how your son behaves, how your wife behaves. I know what people who are stained with violence look like.” She pushes her hair behind her ear. “We recognize our own.”

Except for the part where you couldn’t figure it out until he told everyone in detail under truth serum. This is such bullshit.

“I’m a disciplinarian, yes, but I only wanted what was best—”
“A husband should not discipline his wife,” Johanna says. “Not even in Abnegation.

I can never tell if the author does understand Abnegation is in practice terrible, or if this sort of thing is meant to be a minor foible about the otherwise saintly group.

So Marcus just rolls to the next subject, how they need to work together to restore the factions.

“Let me join you in leading the Allegiant,” he says. “I was an Abnegation leader. I was practically the leader of this entire city. People will rally behind me.”
“People have rallied already,” Johanna points out. “And not behind a person, but behind the desire to reinstate the factions. Who says I need you?”
“Not to diminish your accomplishments, but the Allegiant are still too insignificant to be any more than a small uprising,” Marcus says. “There are more factionless than any of us knew. You do need me. You know it.”
My father has a way of persuading people without charm that has always confused me. He states his opinions as if they’re facts, and somehow his complete lack of doubt makes you believe him.

I can see Johanna beginning to believe him, thinking of the small cluster of people she has gathered to the Allegiant cause. Thinking of the group she sent outside the fence, with Cara, and never heard from again. Thinking of how alone she is, and how rich his history of leadership is.

No.

It’s weird enough that Johanna ever believed him, because manipulative behavior works by fitting into certain patterns that exploit how humans function, and therefore becomes obvious when you know what to look for. But she’s been tipped off now.

Next, Marcus’ leadership is over. Everyone knows the truth serum works. Everyone knows he didn’t even try to defend himself from his wife, and also his wife’s behavior perfectly fits this being true – to say nothing of the whole part where she was alive when he said she was dead and he obviously knew that too.

Finally, WHY THE FUCK IS HE NOT DEAD.

Look. Marcus could’ve refused to sacrifice himself back in the first book, and before Tris could force the issue, her dad had volunteered and run off to aggro the guards for her. He then sticks with the group because neither Tris nor Tobias are willing to murder him in cold blood, and also they just have so much else on their minds. He hangs out at Amity a while, rapidly wearing out his welcome as he can only keep up the nice facade so long and while they don’t know the details, a blind man could see Tobias freaks out whenever Marcus comes within ten feet and Marcus loves to keep going over to Tobias anyway. His refusal to do more than hint ominously about some super important thing he won’t explain is just the icing on the cake.

Then he dies in the attack. Tris continues to obsess about what he was hinting at while Tobias continues to tell her to just forget about it because it’s lies all the way down with Marcus, and the plot just proceeds from there. Marcus never gives any meaningful information about the subject, so he could have just given his non-explanation during the very first bit and Tris takes it from there. Hell, that makes it more plausible, because the longer Marcus gives great detail about how he can’t explain any detail, the stupider the whole thing sounds.

Incidentally, Tobias’ violent outburst to regain Dauntless’ regard could be that he does that to one of the people making fun of him, which both better fits Dauntless’ MO and better fits Tobias emoing about is he any better because he’s attacking a third party over his own unresolved issues. Dauntless is basically ruled through brutality anyway, so becoming leader after showing he can beat the shit out of detractors would be just the right note to hit.

“Sometimes we need to fight for peace,” she says, more to the pavement than to Marcus. “I think this is one of those times. And I do think you would be useful for people to rally behind.”

Instead we get this, and in the process we lose the only interesting thing about Amity, which is the possibility of “fighting” in a way that involved no violence – they could’ve sabotaged infrastructure and simply got in the way of responders, and also tried to leverage their status as the nonviolent harmless group that feeds everyone to shame anyone who tried to use violence against them. Also, dump their drug in the water supplies.

I feel sick. It seems like the rebellions never stop, in the city, in the compound, anywhere. There are just breaths between them, and foolishly, we call those breaths “peace.”

Which is stupid after he’s been told that his city supposedly ran for eight or nine generations just fine. He’s lived his whole damn life free of warfare, and now there’s been a month of chaos and he’s lecturing us about how this is the true nature of man and the way things are 99% of the time is just a fleeting breath.

Another camera shows Evilyn crying and upset, and then she pulls herself together because someone’s knocking to bring her news that Marcus didn’t leave the city, and why the fuck did you not escort him out, and also why didn’t you have them put a bullet through his skull after said escorting?

“I just want him to be gone,” Evelyn says, her voice tight and small, like a child’s. I wonder if she’s still afraid of him, in the way that I’m still afraid of him, like a nightmare that keeps resurfacing during the day. I wonder how similar my mother and I are, deep down where it counts.
“I know,” Therese says, and she leaves.

THEN WHY ISN’T HE DEAD

Even if Evilyn, the evil battered wife who is evil, just couldn’t make herself give the order because she can’t think clearly on the subject (something that doesn’t fit with her behavior but whatever), the other factionless know what’s up. They would just shoot him. There is no reason to leave him alive, and as he’s supposed to be gone and never come back so if no one ever sees him again it’s not like it’s any reflection on them. Short of Evilyn the evil battered wife who is evil explicitly saying that no, she actually does not want him dead for reasons, they should retaliate on her behalf because she’s their leader and he’s an abusive scumbag and if he’s hurt her so much she’s too scared to order it that’s all the more reason to get rid of him for her.

Has the author ever explained in interviews why she felt it was so vitally important Marcus stick around the whole time? What the fuck is going on with this?

4 Comments

  1. Eilonwy_has_an_aardvark says:
    Erudite should generally be better at handling emotions than Abnegation, since we know they have psychology (Tris’ father needed tutoring), while Abnegation simply preaches repression.

    Okay, so city was led by one faction that ran rough-shod over the others while preaching selflessness, and its remaining leader is openly a lying, self-serving, power-hungry bastard whose behavior violates the ideals of at least three factions… and people are supposed to rally to him?

    Executing Marcus should be one of the points used by the pro-faction rebels as proof that they’re committed to good and wholesome factions that are not corrupted by liars and fakes. It also should have occurred to somebody to make him the scapegoat for Erudite’s decision to eliminate Abnegation. EVERYBODY should want Marcus dead.

    1
    1. Betty Cross says:
      One of the things I tend to leave out in early drafts of my fiction is the feelings and motivations of my characters. I’ve trained myself to watch out for deficiencies of this kind in revising my works. Ms. Roth may have been writing under a tight deadline. In any case, the Welsh Goddess of Emus is right. Nobody has any reason to keep Marcus alive, and certainly not Evelyn.
      1. Farla says:
        What baffles me is there doesn’t seem to be any reason for the author to want him alive either. There’s been plenty of times when a character doesn’t die because the author wants them around for later, but what is he doing?
    2. Farla says:
      Especially given Marcus was friends with Jeanine and he at least claimed the attack came because he made the mistake of sharing information with another leader, and isn’t it interesting how he keeps not dying each time he’s supposedly opposing them, and also how he keeps not doing anything useful. Forget scrapegoating, it should even make more sense given they have no idea he’s covered head to toe in plot armor.

      Really, it should just be a slapfight over who can disclaim him harder. The factionless should claim he’s part of the pro-faction side, those guys should say he’s behind the disaster and they hate him way more, maybe he was even a secret factionless mole to cause all this.

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