Last time, Tobias has snapped.
Luckily, we’re back to Tris and the comparatively cheery subplot about how the weapons lab is, shockingly, guarded by a deadly weapon. Mind you, a less than brilliant one, because Tris easily identifies this as “suicide mission” rather than “actually stopping us”.
Tris also explains that this is only partly about revenge. Interestingly, she doesn’t go so far as to say it’s mostly about saving people. She leaves the relative importance of revenge vs saving everyone unexplored. The saving everyone is definitely a factor being given some degree of weight, that’s all.
Cara says that obviously one death to save lots of people is a net good, and bizarrely, Tris then says that that Erudite and Abnegation reasoning are identical in this respect, so why were the two butting heads constantly before?
but I am not sure if they are the minds we need right now. One life against thousands of memories, of course the answer is easy, but does it have to be one of our lives? Do we have to be the ones who act?
Tris is appealing to vice here. Primarily selfishness, but stupidity and cowardice definitely featured there, in saying their lives ought to be exceptions to sacrifice. She may well be violating Candor’s creed here too, since I’d say she must be at least somewhat aware of the fact these are the very sins her society stands against. Only Amity wouldn’t care – they are about a very selfish sort of peace.
They all then stare at Caleb as the obvious choice. Caleb basically says they’re cowards for only staring and not being able to say it, followed by Tris getting mad that he says this because obviously it’s not true except for the part where no, she was totally staring at him and still thinks he’s a good option, she just also hates herself for thinking that and hates the idea of losing her brother.
“You think I don’t know hatred when I see it?” Caleb shakes his head. “I see it every time you look at me. On the rare occasions when you do look at me.”
His eyes are glossy with tears. It’s the first time since my near execution that I’ve seen him remorseful instead of defensive or full of excuses.
Realizing that an action had a consequence he didn’t like is technically remorse, yes. But generally, when someone says they didn’t realize there would be fallout for their murder attempts and wow it sucks, we don’t really class that as remorseful.
He then asks if she’ll forgive him if he kills himself, which is a bit closer but frankly kind of guilt-tripy.
To me, when someone wrongs you, you both share the burden of that wrongdoing—the pain of it weighs on both of you. Forgiveness, then, means choosing to bear the full weight all by yourself.
What the fuck Tris.
Caleb’s betrayal is something we both carry, and since he did it, all I’ve wanted is for him to take its weight away from me. I am not sure that I’m capable of shouldering it all myself—not sure that I am strong enough, or good enough.
Seriously what the fuck.
So she says that fine, she’ll forgive him even though she doesn’t want to or want him to do it, because the author thinks it’s dramatic and Tris is insane. Matthew gets going on the hazmat suit that’ll delay Caleb’s death slight, and Tris emos about how before it was her trying to commit suicide, and she knows that it’s wrong to kill yourself out of guilt, and so shouldn’t she stop Caleb?
Tris then admits that if someone’s going to die she’d rather it wasn’t anyone else, because I guess Tris is jealous Tobias has gone crazy evil and is trying to match it.
Even before he betrayed me, he left me for the Erudite and didn’t look back. I was the one who went to visit him during my initiation, and he spent the whole time wondering why I was there.
So she thinks he should die because he did the exact same goddamn thing as she did (and unlike her, at least tried to talk to her about it in advance), then had no idea why she showed up out of the blue, in defiance of all initiation regulation, for what was honestly a totally selfish reason of her just freaking out and running. Therefore, he deserves to die more than any of her friends, including the guy she’s known a week.
Matthew really is the best choice here if we’re ignoring that Caleb is obviously psycho for the betrayal part. He’s party to the casual mindwiping and a member of the privileged class. And when the rest of the world finds out what happened, the fact one of their perfect people was willing to die for the cause will have more weight than Caleb.
And I don’t want to die anymore. I am up to the challenge of bearing the guilt and the grief, up to facing the difficulties that life has put in my path. Some days are harder than others, but I am ready to live each one of them. I can’t sacrifice myself, this time.
Possibly because it’s the only actual plot point, I got spoiled about this just during regular internet browsing. Not sure of the details, kind of still hoping I misunderstood because I can’t see it going well.
Anyway, Tobias shows up and she says that really, she feels like she’s been mourning her brother like he died since the betrayal. Understandable, but I wish that’d actually shown up in all the thinking she just did on the matter rather than telling about us afterward that by the way, also this thing. The book obviously wants to milk her guilt about this, and “I’m glad it’s not me that’s about to die,” is pretty weak. “I’d be glad to have my brother no longer around haunting me with what he did and just mourn him in peace already,” is a lot better.
“The Abnegation have teachings about this, you know,” he says. “About when to let others sacrifice themselves for you, even if it’s selfish. They say that if the sacrifice is the ultimate way for that person to show you that they love you, you should let them do it.” He leans one shoulder into the wall. “That, in that situation, it’s the greatest gift you can give them. Just as it was when both of your parents died for you.”
I feel we need a lot more words for types of retcon.
No one said before that Abnegation didn’t go for killing yourself for the cause, but it’s pretty obvious this wasn’t true until just now because Tris never referenced it in the slightest about her parents’ deaths, and she also didn’t try to use this as justification for her own sacrifices – she should’ve said she was giving herself up to Erudite last book out of love for her faction.
“I’m not sure it’s love that’s motivating him, though.” I close my eyes. “It seems more like guilt.”
“Maybe,” Tobias admits. “But why would he feel guilty for betraying you if he didn’t love you?”
He hasn’t actually shown guilt. As I outlined earlier, he’s just shown he’s unhappy with the fallout.
But Tris tells us that she knows Caleb’s always loved her, and the part where he was all LOLZ I HAS BETRAYED YOU just didn’t happen and he was way more conflicted in Tris’ version of reality. Continuing the delusional train, Tobias thanks her for refusing to accept that his genes are damaged and showing him that he isn’t by her own stubborn refusal to accept it.
I was so afraid that we would just keep colliding over and over again if we stayed together, and that eventually the impact would break me. But now I know I am like the blade and he is like the whetstone—
I am too strong to break so easily, and I become better, sharper, every time I touch him.
I wonder if anyone back in the days of actual whetstones would’ve used this metaphor.
I’ve never sharpened my own kitchen knives, but when I was a kid, there was a knife in the silverware drawer that I wasn’t supposed to touch because it was super sharp.
Mom explained that my grandfather had been annoyed because the edge was dull, and sat down to make it super sharp. And he did.
My grandmother got home to find he’d destroyed most of the knife in the process by sharpening it right off, leaving only narrow sliver. But it was a very sharp sliver! This knife seen here is slightly wider but otherwise identical.
That’s what whetstones do to a knife.
Anyway, we now go from knife to whetstone, and he casually drops that Tris retrieved her shirt midway through last night, although I think they still haven’t actually fucked. Neither really wants to get up, but they know there’s stuff to be done.
If we succeed in what we attempt tonight, tomorrow Chicago will be safe, the Bureau will be forever changed, and Tris and I will be able to build a new life for ourselves somewhere. Maybe it will even be a place where I trade my guns and knives for more productive tools, screwdrivers and nails and shovels.
Aside from the fact they live in a world where guns and knives regularly save people, there’s the part where they are totally going to be arrested for this.
Does no one else get that there’s a government beyond the single building of scientists? Well, maybe not. They have no sense of the scale of the world itself, and the scale of the organizations within it would be even harder to grasp. But Matthew knows, so unless they haven’t mentioned anything about it to him, he should’ve realized how badly they’ve underestimated the world.
Anyway, Tobias is trying to teach Caleb to be a better shooter, just in case. Caleb screws up despite doing fine before so everyone can laugh about how he only has book learning and books suck. Then Tobias tells the others they’re out of practice and they start practicing too.
Christina stands, her legs slightly uneven, and lifts both arms. She stares at the target for a moment, then fires. The training bullet hits the outer circle of the target and bounces off, rolling on the floor. It leaves a circle of light on the target, marking the impact site. I wish I’d had this technology during initiation training.
It really, really doesn’t seem any more advanced than virtual reality serum. It isn’t even more advanced than solar cars. Hell, even the Amity’s hydroponics were more advanced, given we still struggle with that while “make thing glow” is well, well within our capabilities.
After all that, Matthew tells Tobias that he’s inoculated Nita, because the person whose plan they all thought was evil is more deserving of being saved than every last other person in the building.
“I’ve been meaning to ask you,” I say after a while. “Why are you helping us with this? It seems like a big risk for someone who isn’t personally invested in the outcome.”
“I am, though,” Matthew says.
Why can’t people ever get involved because they have a sense of morality? Where are the John Browns?
Okay, so, remember when the gay couple was all “they hate gays because breeding and genes!”? He was in love with a non-master-race girl.
We’re supposed to make sure that we match ourselves with ‘optimal’ partners, so we produce genetically superior offspring, or something.
This is only a consideration for women.
If they’re trying to do a breeding program, monogamy has nothing to do with it, and if anything, they’d get less pushback by encouraging all couples to go with artificial insemination than telling some people not to marry at all, and they’d get the best effects by having reproduction totally unrelated to hooking up with anyone. Eggs are harder to get than sperm, and wombs are hardest of all, so it should only be the women who are getting bullied into not mating with inferior men. It’s like animal breeding – you buy cheap females and spend a lot on one single good male, and then your next generation is 50% expensive genes.
Incidentally, let’s talk about Exalted and how it works to avert this, because looking at the way the poll is going, we’re going to be tripping my clause about rape meaning I do Exalted novels, so get used to it now.
See, one of the types of Exalted is passed through blood. So, obviously, you should keep the women locked up as broodmares while sending the men out to improve the commoners, right? Except that educating a kid up to be a perfect Dragonblood is expensive (and you can’t ever be sure the kid will even exalt), surprise Dragonblooded commoners may decide they’re not a fan of all your commoner oppression (and what, like you’re supposed to stop murdering commoners for being uppity?), plus there’s only so much money and land to go around on the Blessed Isle, and more Dragonbloods means more competition. Plus, Dragonblooded women can’t have more than one kid every two years, and the only woman who ever actually tried having them that fast died extraordinarily young. Dragonbloods get exponentially more powerful with age, so not a good use of resources there.
This all adds up into a setting where there’s no reason to keep women barefoot and pregnant. Because Exalted, while its execution was not always perfect, knew that 1) the breeding thing would impact female characters and 2) that would be a bad thing.
You could probably work out a way to do it to make it so women in this setting aren’t obligated to breed either – that the “pure” are valued enough in jobs they’re worth more there than having and raising children (especially with the risks of pregnancy), while there’s no real point in encouraging the “impure” to have more kids either.
But the author obviously doesn’t care about the fact she’s now repeatedly shown us tragic men in situations that are far worse for women, because the rest of this story is about how the girl gets fridged by some non-GMO thugs who get away with it by saying she provoked them (and how this interacts with the idea that GMO people get lesser punishments than non-GMO people will be forever a mystery) so he joined the rebellion forces THE VERY DAY SHE DIED because apparently it is really easy to get in touch with rebellion forces.
“I know it doesn’t seem like it,” Matthew says, “but I hate them.”
“And I would have volunteered to die instead of Caleb . . . if not for the fact that I really want to see them suffer the repercussions. I want to watch them fumble around under the memory serum, not knowing who they are anymore, because that’s what happened to me when she died.”
“That sounds like an adequate punishment,” I say.
“More adequate than killing them would be,” Matthew says. “And besides, I’m not a murderer.”
So that’s another notch for Matthew being the much better person to send on the suicide run.
There’s then a ridiculously short Tris chapter where she just goes to the council meeting to hear that nothing has changed, and then she hangs out with Tobias without their relationship doing anything new, and then he says that they’re going to proceed with their own plan that they already made and explained earlier. What the fuck, book.
Then back to Whetstone, who still hasn’t decided which parent to murder because this is such a hugely difficult choice. Also, George has tricked the other guards into going off to drink while he mans the area alone, because apparently they have shit all for discipline here.
He warns George to inoculate himself. This could’ve been a good moment – Tobias could explain to us that he knows if George is suspicious and reports this, their whole plan might be found out. He could say that he’s incredibly guilty that he’s saving George and not all the other innocent workers. All he does say is for George to do it.
Incidentally, it’s snowing those wet sticky flakes. I think a while earlier Tris claimed it was late fall, and wow, global warming has sure done a number on the planet if Chicago is just barely hitting freezing temperatures by now.
“You need a map?” I raise my eyebrows. “Has it not occurred to you to just . . . aim for the giant buildings?”
Holy shit Tobias is stupid today. Amar explains stealth, somehow without adding that he can’t believe someone who just said that replaced him in training the recruits and wow current Dauntless must be a mess.
The distance the Bureau has kept from the rest of the world is an evil separate from the war they intend to wage against our memories—more subtle, but, in its way, just as sinister. They had the capacity to help us, languishing in our factions, but instead they let us fall apart. Let us die. Let us kill one another. Only now that we are about to destroy more than an acceptable level of genetic material are they deciding to intervene.
I can’t quite make out that first sentence but going by the gist – what exactly did you want them to do?
The factions didn’t languish, they were a solution, and one that let people rule themselves. Their refusal to intervene does speak badly on them, but on the other hand, it’s not clear how they could intervene. They almost certainly don’t have more people observing Chicago than are in Chicago, if only because the resources involved would be more absurd than usual. Even if they did outnumber the people, that still doesn’t mean going in to try to pacify people is going to go smoothly, and it’s extra difficult when the functioning of their society requires keeping them away from the knowledge that in the mainstream world, they’re second-class citizens. Tobias even knows first-hand how upsetting the reveal is, how it calls into question everything they believe in and makes them wonder if there’s any point in trying.
The peace serum seems like it might be a solution, except that we know from Tris last book that it’s the only serum that seems to have dosage concerns. Best case scenario, the most it can do is make you loopy and a bunch of people die to accidents. Worst case, an overdose stops your breathing or heart.
So they may really not have ways of interacting with the city other than memory wipes, in which case the fact they tried for minimal intervention is a good thing. Hell, the whole plot now is based around objecting to them finally deciding to intervene.
I still don’t know whose memory I’m going to take: Marcus’s, or Evelyn’s?
In case you somehow managed to block it from your mind, this: still a thing.
Usually I would try to decide what the most selfless choice would be, but in this case either choice feels selfish. Resetting Marcus would mean erasing the man I hate and fear from the world. It would mean my freedom from his influence.
Resetting Evelyn would mean making her into a new mother—one who wouldn’t abandon me, or make decisions out of a desire for revenge, or control everyone in an effort not to have to trust them.
“Resetting Dad would let me get rid of a terrible person who does nothing but hurt others. But resetting Mom would let me remake her to be exactly what I wanted from her. God, it’s so hard to decide!”
Either way, with either parent gone, I am better off.
So let’s talk about how society handles parenting.
The mom is obligated to provide the generic momness, which is also no effort on her part anyway and wasn’t even worth that much – Tobias doesn’t even want anything from her as person, he just wants the mom aspect. Tobias is saying that getting rid of his mom because she “abandoned” him somehow makes him better off, to the exact same degree as getting rid of his abusive, manipulative, actively dangerous father does, because fathers araen’t obligated to do anything for their kids. His dad is only bad because he abused Tobias, while his mom is exactly as awful for not being a perfect mother.
Tobias doesn’t even seem to admit erasing his mother’s memory is erasing her – it’s just letting him swap moms for a better one, because he doesn’t even see her as a person the way he does his father. Her purpose in life is to be his mom, and two of the three crimes he lists her committing are being a person whose goals don’t revolve around him.
But what would help the city most?
I no longer know.
This one is barely even a harder question. Evilyn, the evil abused wife, is the problem, because getting rid of the factions was the problem. Getting rid of Marcus won’t change her mind about the factions being evil, because they are evil and she’s not stupid. Getting rid of Evilyn, in contrast, will almost certainly cripple the factionless and might cause them to split apart.
If we had to have this plot, there’s already a perfectly good question here – does he use the memory serum to murder his father, who’s the greater monster, or does he use it to murder his mother, who’s the greater threat? If his creepy, creepy thoughts about his mom are necessary, they could be based around a desire for reconciliation – will his mom take him back when he shows her what he did to their mutual abuser? Or if he has to kill her instead, could they still somehow have a life together?
But no. He’s just planning to murder his mom because her life not revolving around him is exactly as evil as daily beatings.
Back to what passes for plot, Christina claims to need a potty break, then slashes the tires. Amar drives a short distance before they finish running out of air, then sees nothing suspicious about both back tires being flat at the same time minutes after a sudden request to stop the car.
“George’s schedule says we’ve got an hour before we reset the city,” Amar says, checking his watch too, to make sure. “If you want us to spare Zeke and his mother the grief and let them get reset, I wouldn’t blame you. I’ll do it if you need me to.”
I shake my head. “Couldn’t do that. They wouldn’t be in pain, but it wouldn’t be real.”
This is all really weird but at this point the morality in general is going blue and orange, so it’s hard to have any opinion on if Tris’ view makes any sense.
Christina and Amar head off, and Tobias splits away, and Peter is coming with him for some reason.
Where do I have the greatest influence? Where can I make the biggest difference? Those are the questions I should be asking myself. Instead I am asking myself whose destruction I am more desperate for.
You are terrible.
“I’m going to stop a revolution,” I say.