Divergent Ch24-26

“TRIS.”
In my dream, my mother says my name. She beckons to me, and I cross the kitchen to stand beside her. She points to the pot on the stove, and I lift the lid to peek inside. The beady eye of a crow stares back at me, its wing feathers pressed to the side of the pot, its fat body covered with boiling water.
“Dinner,” she says.

Well that smacks of faux deepness.

She’s woken by Christina, who says something’s happened with Al and they head to the chasm to see people finish dredging Al’s body out of the water.

“One of the initiates,” says someone behind me. “What happened?”
“Same thing that happens every year,” someone else replies. “He pitched himself over the ledge.”
“Don’t be so morbid. Could have been an accident.”

Accidents are less morbid than suicide, accidents are the default assumption even when there’s a railing.

Somehow, despite the rushing water, they can tell from his location he must have jumped pretty far, so definitely suicide. Or murder. Sure, Peter doesn’t benefit from killing Al, but Al is blamable for things going badly and that might be enough.

Someone kneels next to Al’s face and pushes his eyelids shut. Trying to make it look like he’s sleeping, maybe. Stupid. Why do people want to pretend that death is sleep? It isn’t.

I think here we’re running into the author trying to show recognizable responses in Tris and it’s getting in the way of what the Dauntless are. Why would they shut his eyes when they’re about facing up to things and not hiding from them?

I’m not even sure how Tris knows this herself. We know people do this because you see it in movies and shows, and even books will mention it. But we’ve heard no word of those existing. If they do, they don’t seem to be things Abnegation was allowed.

But even if it doesn’t make sense for the world, Tris’ meltdown makes sense in our context, and it’s written well, jumping back and forth from her feeling out of control and the body. She ends up running back to the tattoo artist who gave her her test, I guess because that’s the only uninvolved adult she has.

There, Tris drinks peppermint tea and watches everyone be drunk and rowdy, which is different from Abnegation who treat a funeral with the same lack of joy they treat everything else.

I bite my lip. “How long…” I struggle for the right words. “How long did it take for you to be okay again, after your brother…”

Dammit!

Yes, this is the only real point of comparison, but Al’s death to her is not the same as the murder of a beloved sibling. He hurt her and nearly got her killed, then killed himself because she wouldn’t say it was okay.

“Some days I feel like I’m still not okay. Some days I feel fine. Happy, even. It took me a few years to stop plotting revenge, though.”
“Why did you stop?” I ask.
Her eyes go vacant as she stares at the wall behind me. She taps her fingers against her leg for a few seconds and then says, “I don’t think of it as stopping. More like I’m…waiting for my opportunity.”

See this just illustrates that Dauntless should escalate to murderfests incredibly quickly. You train people in weapons and you teach them not to fear anything, you can’t only kill one kid, you’ve got to kill his relatives and friends because they’ll come after you. It’d turn into clan feuds where it only ends when one side is completely wiped out. It doesn’t matter they don’t know she knows. They know she might know and that anyone who does know absolutely will react like this because they’re Dauntless. The best you can hope for is they rush into it and fail, and even that’s bad because you’re risking they tell their friends about it and now you’ve got more people who know you killed someone and have been trained to fearlessly commit murder.

She heads back for the funeral, and Molly decides to taunt her about another Erudite article, and Tris is happy it’s a reason to punch someone. At some point they really need to address that bullying should be really different in Dauntless. The bullies should be getting pretty uneasy by now as their sheep targets not only fight back more and more but are getting better at making it hurt by the day.

For some reason Will pulls them apart, because I guess no fighting at funerals.

She’s curious how Dauntless handles suicide, because Abnegation says it’s selfish. It is, don’t commit suicide. Antag-Eric has a different opinion.

“We do not know why,” says Eric, “and it would be easy to mourn the loss of him tonight. But we did not choose a life of ease when we became Dauntless. And the truth of it is…” Eric smiles. If I didn’t know him, I would think that smile is genuine. But I do know him. “The truth is, Albert is now exploring an unknown, uncertain place. He leaped into vicious waters to get there. Who among us is brave enough to venture into that darkness without knowing what lies beyond it? Albert was not yet one of our members, but we can be assured that he was one of our bravest!”

Okay, this is obviously to show how fucked up Dauntless has gotten, but all the Dauntless cheer it, so it can’t be a major shift in thought. And I don’t buy that.

Cultural views on suicide vary, but a very rough rule of thumb is that you don’t want to encourage suicide if you have any use for people. Christianity’s kept their suicide ban through many times of overpopulation, but it started because the initial persecuted cults expecting the world to end any day now anyway were killing themselves off rather than wait to be tortured to death, and the people left to form the early church realized they needed it to stop if the religion had any chance of growing.

The Dauntless do not seem to value life or each other and do seem to be suicidal and purposeless. But a faction that believed this is an incredibly dangerous one that should’ve self-destructed long ago. Dauntless must have started out with or developed very early on a code that considered suicide a supreme act of cowardice just as Abnegation considered it selfishness. And it wouldn’t have been hard to reinforce when the primary cause of suicide among the Dauntless must be stress and fear, and low ranking initiates likely commit suicide particularly often, so it’d be attached to the failures who didn’t even manage to be proper Dauntless. Their second test even seems to be nothing but a PTSD generator. None of the factions can be particularly large and all of them have an inconsistent replacement rate because they don’t know how many of their kids will stay, so they’d have even more reason to want to keep the people they had.

It’s not impossible to have changed this, but between the very short period we’re working with and the fact it must have been a huge change, something must have gone wrong much earlier than just Tris’ dad kicking them to guard the fence.

Maybe they never had a purpose. In that case, they’re been spiraling into self-destruction since almost the start, and either they never established a suicide taboo or their attempts to do so fell apart. There’s been no sign of anyone disabled, which must happen all the time, so maybe that’s why – the Abnegation have a use for everyone, but the Dauntless are obsessed with fitness, and maybe from the beginning felt that the weak should die rather than impose on the rest of the group. The idea it’s brave to kill yourself when you’re crippled would rapidly erode any other suicide taboo the leaders tried to keep up. Their only chance at that point would be to make suicide about selfishness and letting those who rely on you down, but selfishness is Abnegation’s virtue, so they couldn’t.

But anyway so everyone drinks and whoops about Albert the Courageous and Tris leaves, thinking that what really killed Al was pride. I like that – it’s better than it being repentance.

Four comes to see her.

“Shouldn’t you be paying your respects?”
I say it like it tastes bad and I have to spit it out.
“Shouldn’t you?” he says. He steps toward me, and I see his eyes again. They look black in this light.
“Can’t pay respect when you don’t have any,” I reply. I feel a twinge of guilt and shake my head. “I didn’t mean that.”

But she does, and she’s right to. She says, “He wasn’t brave! He was depressed and a coward and he almost killed me! Is that the kind of thing we respect here?”
“What do you want them to do?” he says. “Condemn him? Al’s already dead. He can’t hear it and it’s too late.”
“It’s not about Al,” I snap. “It’s about everyone watching! Everyone who now sees hurling themselves into the chasm as a viable option. I mean, why not do it if everyone calls you a hero afterward? Why not do it if everyone will remember your name? It’s…I can’t…”
I shake my head. My face burns and my heart pounds, and I try to keep myself under control, but I can’t.
“This would never have happened in Abnegation!” I almost shout. “None of it! Never. This place warped him and ruined him, and I don’t care if saying that makes me a Stiff, I don’t care, I don’t care!”

I really, really like how this plotline is playing out, especially how it’s not directly drawing a line from the place ruining Al to his attack on her. It fucked him up, but she’s saying what it did in general (and it did) rather than that it absolves Al of what he did to her, and she’s upset about what this means for everyone else.

Four instead tells her to watch what she says.

He sets his hands on my shoulders, his fingers pressing, squeezing. I feel small. “They are watching you. You, in particular.”
“Let go of me,” I say weakly.
His fingers spring apart, and he straightens.

She goes on to say I fear his shifting moods. They show me something unstable inside of him, and instability is dangerous. I’m still on the fence about the whole love interest thing. There’s no lack of violent men the heroine fears. But it seems to be presented as an actual problem here, and yet at the same time he’s a lot more considerate about this than most love interests – he’s got warning signs of abuse, but he also comes across as very aware of it himself.

He says he’s trying to help her, and she goes back to being mad about that time he threw knives at her.

“Taunting you? You mean when I threw the knives? I wasn’t taunting you,” he snaps. “I was reminding you that if you failed, someone else would have to take your place.”
I cup the back of my neck with my hand and think back to the knife incident. Every time he spoke, it was to remind me that if I gave up, Al would have to take my place in front of the target.
“Why?” I say.
“Because you’re from Abnegation,” he says, “and it’s when you’re acting selflessly that you are at your bravest.”

Hm.

She does show bravery with Edward, where she’s the only one who doesn’t panic. But I feel like this is underselling her bravery – she’s been plenty brave other times when it was just about herself. Possibly it’s that she’s better at forcing herself forward when it’s someone else, which is a a type of bravery but one Four likely values.

Personally, I’d rather it was put that she relies on selflessness when bravery fails her, but it’s quibbling when the author’s trying to show she realizes the faction values merge with each other and that’s the point.

The thought makes me ache now. Protect Al. My friend. My attacker.
I can’t hate Al as much as I want to.
I can’t forgive him either.

If that’s our resolution on the subplot I’m really pleased with it. I do hesitate with the idea people can be just straight up evil and you should hate them, so I’m glad she remains conflicted, but I’m even happier that she’s clear on the most important part about not forgiving him.

Still feel Al’s character wasn’t set up properly for this, but aside from that it works beautifully.

But forget about him, it’s about her. And how she needs to not act selfless.

“Intentions are the only thing they care about. They try to make you think they care about what you do, but they don’t. They don’t want you to act a certain way. They want you to think a certain way. So you’re easy to understand. So you won’t pose a threat to them.”

Speaking of not set up properly, one of my ongoing issues with Dauntless has been that they never consider emotional cowardice. They drive the kids to brave actions by making them more scared of what failure will mean, and Tris at least spends a good chunk of chapters acting based on fear of people without even considering this isn’t exactly brave.

I mean, I can see why people who want to control might not want to train people in brave thinking, but if they’re trying to control thoughts we should have seen more attempts at indoctrination. The first session was just punching each other followed by free time. No reciting Dauntless tenets or hearing the storied history of their faction and how proper Dauntless act like X and failures act like Y.

She starts wishing she was taller so he wouldn’t see her as a little sister he needs to protect despite Tris earlier being easily able to tell he was jealous of her having an arm around another boy.

He says that sure, right now she’s staying on the right path “but what happens when your Abnegation-wired brain tells you to do something else, something they don’t want?”

She wonders if she is wired Abnegation at all. She says she doesn’t need her help and isn’t weak. He says he is not wired to want to protect small girls but break them in half, and what she’s getting from him is absolutely his reasoned and measured second response. So yes, he is a very aware abusive boyfriend.

“Why…” I swallow hard. “Why is that your first instinct?”
“Fear doesn’t shut you down; it wakes you up. I’ve seen it. It’s fascinating.” He releases me but doesn’t pull away, his hand grazing my jaw, my neck. “Sometimes I just…want to see it again. Want to see you awake.”

On the one hand, that sure is that. On the other hand, her response is oh boy hugz tiem and she says he no longer scares her.

So this does not appear healthy but it seems like a mutual thing, so I approve. I guess if you’re Dauntless it’s okay so long as you know what you’re up against.

Tris then wants to know if there’s something wrong with her for not being more upset, and if it’s her fault Al is dead.

“It isn’t your fault,” he says, touching his forehead to mine.
“But I should have. I should have forgiven him.”
“Maybe. Maybe there’s more we all could have done,” he says, “but we just have to let the guilt remind us to do better next time.”
I frown and pull back. That is a lesson that members of Abnegation learn—guilt as a tool, rather than a weapon against the self. It is a line straight from one of my father’s lectures at our weekly meetings.

I like how she asks if it’s her fault but the moment he suggests keeping this in mind the next time someone almost kills her and asks for forgiveness she’s all yeah no that’s Abnegation fuck it. She asks his birth faction and he says he’s Dauntless now.

So Marcus’ son is a tightly wound ball of rage issues. I mean, that’s most likely something you can blame on Marcus, but it sounds like the faction transfer at least was a personality issue. Also, why doesn’t he say anything about the Erudite articles? Or is it that they did have quotes from him this whole time and Tris was blowing that off as more Erudite lies and never made the connection because he wasn’t identified by name?

And thus ends the chapter. Next time she’s hanging out with her fairweather friends after some tattooing. She got an Abnegation symbol and thinks it’s okay because she had Tori do it, but for christ’s sake, it’s on your shoulder. Couldn’t you have decided that symbol is a part of my identity, and it felt important to me that I wear it on my skin. before you were told you’re under scrutiny and you need to make it clear you’re plain pure Dauntless?

Christina hands me a stack of paper. I got a copy of every report the Erudite have released in the last six months. Throwing them into the chasm won’t get rid of them forever, but it might make me feel better.

This kind of comes out of nowhere. At this point she’s got bigger concerns.

The Erudite representative, which come to think of it actually may not be the same thing as faction leader, is Jeanine with sharp-but-attractive eyes. Sharp eyes are evil.

He takes the next report and tears it to shreds. The pieces float into the river. He does it without Christina’s malice. I get the feeling that the only reason he’s participating is to prove to me that he doesn’t agree with his former faction’s tactics. Whether he believes what they’re saying or not is unclear, and I am afraid to ask.

See what I mean about there really being no discussion of bravery as it relates to anything other than cliff-jumping?

Will met Jeanine “Before she was a leader so representative is the same as leader, but there may be multiple leaders the same as in every other faction. Apparently they wanted a serum that lasted longer, despite the fact there’s been no mention of the serum wearing off on its own or time being a consideration at all.

Then Tris does ask what he thinks! But there’s still no explicit connection to bravery. She’s never motivated by trying to be brave about this.

He shrugs. “I don’t know. Maybe it’s a good idea to have more than one faction in control of the government. And maybe it would be nice if we had more cars and…fresh fruit and…”
“You do realize there’s no secret warehouse where all that stuff is kept, right?” I ask, my face getting hot.
“Yes, I do,” he says. “I just think that comfort and prosperity are not a priority for Abnegation, and maybe they would be if the other factions were involved in our decision making.”

Considering they can’t even keep the roads up, I’d say they’re not even managing basic government functions. And everything Tris says about Abnegation fits this. They don’t like anything.

This also suggests they’re being passive aggressive as fuck – they’ve made taking everyone else’s treats for the factionless more important than just making sure the factionless are fed. You could probably redo the farms relatively easily to produce more staple goods and total calories and still keep the other factions better supplied with fresh fruit.

Maybe I’ve misjudged Abnegation. I thought it was weird they were giving things to the factionless when they think that’s the root of suffering. But perhaps they, like everyone else, view the factionless as scum and so don’t think the factionless need to be protected from wanting things, but the other factions can still be reformed and brought in line with Abnegation values.

“Because giving an Erudite boy a car is more important than giving food to the factionless,” I snap.

No wonder Erudite wants to take over if this is Abnegation’s idea of reasoning. It’s not like you’re converting a ton of fruit into a car.

Now, given they don’t seem to have any trade outside the city, their cars may well run on food – alcohol is easy to make, oil’s a lot of trouble even if you can find it. But if running more cars is a direct threat to the food supply, you’d expect that to have come up. Among other things, that’s all the more reason to keep the roads smooth, and it should mean they carpooled with their neighbor rather than the selfless thing being to let him go carrying only his kids and take the bus themselves.

But Christina says no debate because god forbid I figure out how this place works. Tris notes they’re very touchy and might be together.

Will says he doesn’t like how Erudite’s doing it, though, because he knows they’re lying about Tris’ dad and can’t believe they’re doing it. Tris just thinks that of course they are it’s to cause a revolution.

“It’s bedtime,” Christina says, smiling. “Ready to go back? I think I want to put Peter’s hand in a bowl of warm water to make him pee tonight.”

Remember what Four said about the difference between bravery and stupidity?

Speaking of, she begs off from pointlessly antagonizing the sociopath to go talk to Four.

Christina is looking at Will, and he is looking back at her. Neither of them is really listening to me.
“All right,” Christina says distantly. “Well, I’ll see you later, then.”

Oh come on book, every time Four’s been mentioned her friends are always ew he is so scary and mean. Now suddenly that plot’s just dropped because Tris likes him? Were you only ever having them say that for love interest tension? Do any side characters have any characterization of their own or are they just whatever you need at the moment?

Hell, if the author didn’t want to deal with this, she could’ve just have Christina hang out with her Dauntless-born friends, since they seem to be fine with Four.

Unlike Christina, I don’t find it difficult to lie. I don’t intend to talk to Four—at least, not until I find out where he’s going, late at night, in the glass building above us.

ARG.

That means the entire scene is to fake out the reader, even when it makes no sense given the characters. If Tris is going to lie, she’d have just said she wanted to stay and think about the falls or wander around or something. She’s been keeping her interest in Four a secret and she knows her friends would find it noteworthy she wanted to hang out with the guy. If she was going to lie, she’d have lied properly.

“Since you’re here,” he says, without looking over his shoulder, “you might as well go in with me.”
I bite my lip. “Into your fear landscape?”
“Yes.”
As I walk toward him, I ask, “I can do that?”
“The serum connects you to the program,” he says, “but the program determines whose landscape you go through. And right now, it’s set to put us through mine.”

Okay, since the book won’t do it: the serum is nanobots, okay? That’s how it’s working and doing computery things despite being a bunch of colored liquid.

Anyway, so I guess it’s time to learn about Four. She’s surprised he wants her to see it, and he says that’s the whole reason he’s there so I guess he knew she’d follow him. They nanobot each other up and then head in. She asks his name and he tells her she’ll figure it out.

First is heights.

We fall like two stones, fast, the air pushing back at us, the ground growing beneath us. Then the scene
disappears, and I am on my hands and knees on the floor, grinning. I loved that rush the day I chose Dauntless, and I love it now.
Next to me, Four gasps and presses a hand to his chest.

I like her love of fear of heights. It’s one it’s easy to understand and opens up some good areas of the plot, and it also works for showing how different people’s reactions can be.

Next is confinement. She’s pretty okay with this one too, and suggests that, since one way of beating the simulation is to accept it, if they shrink down more it’ll go away.

“Ah,” he says, his voice raspy. “This is worse. This is definitely…”
“Shh,” I say. “Arms around me.”
Obediently, he slips both arms around my waist. I smile at the wall. I am not enjoying this. I am not, not even a little bit, no.
“The simulation measures your fear response,” I say softly. I’m just repeating what he told us, but reminding him might help him.
“So if you can calm your heartbeat down, it will move on to the next one. Remember? So try to forget that we’re here.”
“Yeah?” I feel his lips move against my ear as he speaks, and heat courses through me. “That easy, huh?”
“You know, most boys would enjoy being trapped in close quarters with a girl.” I roll my eyes.
“Not claustrophobic people, Tris!” He sounds desperate now.

Tris is pretty shitty at this. But she manages to distract him with her heartbeat, which incidentally is not going nice and slow either. He tells her this is from getting punished as a kid, and Tris is horrified because her parents punished her by being sent to my room without dinner, deprived of this or that, firm scoldings. No dinner actually really sucks and I’m not sure what else they can deprive an Abnegation kid of. Four declares they are done talking about his life now, let’s talk about her heartbeat. Would he show up in her fear landscape? She says she’s not scared of him, he says not quite what he meant and laughs, breaking out.

He stands in front of me. He’s grinning, and I’m not sure I like the look in his eyes.
“Maybe you were cut out for Candor,” he says, “because you’re a terrible liar.”
“I think my aptitude test ruled that one out pretty well.”
He shakes his head. “The aptitude test tells you nothing.”

Hey it’s plot! She then ASKS MORE. It’s because she’s still set on him being a secret fellow divergent, but any excuse to find out about the world. Unfortunately the time for reasonable conversation is over, because the next bit is here.

A woman stands a few yards away, pointing a gun at us. She is completely still, her features plain—if we walked away right now, I would not remember her. To my right, a table appears. On it is a gun and a single bullet.

And so he shoots her. The scene does a good job of selling the dread and misery – it’d be easy to have characters taking refuge in how this isn’t real, the people aren’t real, they’ve done that before, but if they could do that it wouldn’t be worthy of showing up and it’d cheapen the whole exploring fears thing the author has going on.

But something puzzles me: These are supposed to be Four’s worst fears. And though he panicked in the box and on the roof, he killed the woman without much difficulty. It seems like the simulation is grasping at any fears it can find within him, and it hasn’t found much.

I really don’t get any of that from the actual writing. He manages to kill the woman faster than he gets out of the box, but only because that fear had an obvious brute force solution and didn’t require him to calm down like the box did. For things he’s faced before he seems to still be having a lot of trouble with them.

“Marcus,” I whisper.
“Here’s the part,” Four says, his voice shaking, “where you figure out my name.”

It’s Tobias. Tris, I guess because she’s so mad at Erudite she’s rejecting the whole idea of reasoning, is duly shocked despite the fact I had the impression she was pretty sure from when she recognized Four’s guilt line as being Abnegation boilerplate and just wasn’t 100% sure yet.

A dozen Marcuses press into the circle of light, all holding the same belt, with the same blank expression. When the Marcuses blink again, their eyes turn into empty, black pits. The belts slither along the floor, which is now white tile.

Unlike the others this one just feels farcical. I guess the author was trying to make the last one the greatest fear and lots of something is scarier than one thing.

A shiver crawls up my spine. The Erudite accused Marcus of cruelty. For once the Erudite were right.

What do you mean, for once?

This is what we were introduced with. The Erudites saying Marcus was abusive and your family saying it was very very mean of the Erudites to say such mean things. This should be the moment you wonder what else they’re right about. The only thing we know of that isn’t true is what they say about your dad abusing you, and they’re getting that from a girl in your own group who they have no way of knowing is lying to them. And if they actually did have all this evidence on Marcus, maybe the reason they aren’t doing proper fact checking is because your situation matches the other one otherwise so they have every reason to believe it.

So far, the Erudites are the only ones who figured out that the leader of the city is abusive. I’m now even more inclined to believe them that Abnegation is deliberately hoarding food for some purpose. Maybe they’re wrong about why Abnegation’s doing it, but if Abnegation refuses to explain speculation is inevitable.

Anyway. Fake-Marcus tries to hit Four-Tobias with the belt and Tris intervenes to block it and grab the belt herself, then hits Marcus back.

He yells and lunges at me with outstretched hands, with fingernails that look like claws. Tobias pushes me behind him so he stands between me and Marcus. He looks angry, not afraid.
All the Marcuses vanish.

So it looks like Four does the same Abnegation-bravery thing. And now we know his name is four because he has four fears. Tris is all wow I figured something out, but Four is busy thinking she is really awesome and let’s hug now.

Then they head back to the Pit holding hands as we enter the next chapter.

Four talks about how his fears never change no matter how he tries.

“You can’t be fearless, remember?” I say. “Because you still care about things. About your life.”

Which suggests that the very concept of the Dauntless, even her ideal version, may be flawed. Bravery and cowardice aren’t really the root problem.

He leads her to the bottom of the chasm and she asks again about his test.

“My result was as expected,” he says. “Abnegation.”

He claims he picked Dauntless “Out of necessity.”. On the one hand, there were three other factions that didn’t involve staying with the guy who beat him. On the other, he may be letting the fact he’s got rage issues go unsaid. And while maybe Amity or something would’ve been a better fit for his actual problems, after growing up knowing Abnegation is fucked up, he might have feared that Amity was the same. Candor seems an option, but he likely didn’t want to admit what happened. Plus, if he was sure no one would believe him in Abnegation, he may have felt Candor would dismiss it as lying as well. And maybe he just didn’t care for Erudite or thinking and preferred to be doing.

“You had to get away from your dad,” I say. “Is that why you don’t want to be a Dauntless leader? Because if you were, you might have to see him again?”
He lifts a shoulder. “That, and I’ve always felt that I don’t quite belong among the Dauntless. Not the way they are now, anyway.”

That’s kind of why it’d help for you to be leader, you know.

This also presents us with another situation where there is a murder-based solution here that the murder faction seems unaware of. What would happen if Four’s friends, assuming he has friends, knew about this and decided to murder his dad for his sake? You’d assume the factions would pay more attention to killings between factions, but that’s assuming anyone thinks anything of “accidents” in the first place. It may be no one pays attention so long as it doesn’t look like it’s an actual attempt to take over. So long as Marcus’ successor doesn’t help some other faction’s aims, there may not be any real concern about his death.

That’s not what anyone’s thinking about, though. Tris is just but you the best Dauntless ever!

He says, “I have a theory that selflessness and bravery aren’t all that different. All your life you’ve been training to forget yourself, so when you’re in danger, it becomes your first instinct. I could belong in Abnegation just as easily.”

You’re on a hair trigger, you really could not have.

Unless – I was thinking this is explained by him being abused as a kid, but it might not be. Maybe this is what Dauntless turned him into. The girl in his group didn’t seem to have any concern he was a bit brittle. She remembers him as just kind. That might also explain why he scored as Abnegation, although you could probably also get it by being self-destructive – throwing yourself on the dog for the girl and telling the truth about the murderer don’t have to require a high regard for others if you don’t value yourself or even kind of want to get killed. The test is really not a good test.

Tris confesses that she couldn’t be Abnegation and selfless.

“That’s not entirely true.” He smiles at me. “That girl who let someone throw knives at her to spare a friend, who hit my dad with a belt to protect me—that selfless girl, that’s not you?”

This makes me think we need more words.

Tris is willing to make big sacrifices for people she cares about, but she wants things in return and doesn’t want to make small sacrifices. Abnegation is about constant grinding selflessness that other people probably aren’t even grateful for.

The kind of selflessness she has isn’t a fit for Abnegation at all.

She says he’s sure been watching her. He says it’s just a thing he does, and she says he’d have been great in Candor too. He admits that fine, he likes her, and she should call him Tobias.

“I’m not trying to be self-deprecating,” I say, “I just don’t get it. I’m younger. I’m not pretty. I—”
He laughs, a deep laugh that sounds like it came from deep inside him, and touches his lips to my temple.
“Don’t pretend,” I say breathily. “You know I’m not. I’m not ugly, but I am certainly not pretty.”
“Fine. You’re not pretty. So?” He kisses my cheek. “I like how you look. You’re deadly smart. You’re brave. And even though you found out about Marcus…” His voice softens. “You aren’t giving me that look. Like I’m a kicked puppy or something.”

And this is a surprisingly good way to build a relationship. From everything we’ve heard, I’m not ugly, but I am certainly not pretty. is a completely accurate description of Tris, not her not realizing she’s secretly beautiful. And the things he compliments her on now, down to how she’s treating him, are the same things she listed before for why she was in love with him.

And they kiss.

And when we rise, hand in hand, I realize that if we had both chosen differently, we might have ended up doing the same thing, in a safer place, in gray clothes instead of black ones.

Well, it sounds really profound and I see what the author’s ideas are with the idea Dauntless and Abnegation can be the same thing at core, it’s really hampered by the fact Tris obviously wouldn’t have been able t stand Abnegation and Four only could if we assume his current anger issues came after he joined Dauntless.

I can see it as a problem with the factions, that they’re not really promoting the virtue but a narrow interpretation of it, but in the current situation they wouldn’t have been together in grey. They likely wouldn’t have met given she did not, in fact, meet him ever before, and if they did and found anything about each other they loved, it’d have presumably have been their Dauntless characteristics and resulted in more trouble.

11 Comments

  1. Hadithi says:
    There really needed to be more worldbuilding for this book to work properly. We’re supposed to hate Erudite because Erudite is wrong – but the author forgets that WE don’t know that. We don’t know what Abnegation does with the resources. We don’t know how many resources they have. We don’t even know if there are other cities or countries they trade with.

    We’re told how bad Dauntless is, but we don’t know how it used to be so there’s no way for us to compare it. We know pretty much nothing about any of the other factions, or how a society like this could be stable for five years, let alone decades. I mean, who would switch IN to Abnegation? It’s like becoming Amish. Not many people do it. Abnegation should be dwindling in numbers – as should Dauntless considering their practices.

    And why aren’t the factionless doing anything? I mean, fuck, your city is falling apart. Put them to work fixing up the roads, picking fruit, hard labor. They’re a huge drain to society just sitting in the streets, slowly dying.

    1
    1. Farla says:
      But the factionless are employed! Including at fixing stuff. But they’re also just standing around starving next to open sewers. The only thing that makes sense is they have more labor than they have materials, but they have literally an entire city’s worth of resources they could be breaking down.
      1
  2. Person says:
    Huh, I’d assumed his new name was Four because he was also divergent and the test said he could fit into four of the factions.
    1. Farla says:
      That’d mean he was broadcasting that he divergent, though. (Although insisting on being called a nickname that’s your private reference to something no one can know would be stupid enough for Dauntless.)
      1. Person says:
        Heh, I guess I just assumed that Tris’s love interest would rather have a name that secretly references his speshulness than be more careful about being safe from the divergent murder. Like Tris’s Abnegation symbol tattoo but even more permanent and obvious.
  3. Eilonwy_has_an_aardvark says:
    The “never having seen Tobias when he was in Abnegation” thing keeps bothering me. The kid was a reclusive loner and nobody tried to make him conform or join in or anything?

    I’m not sure why she couldn’t have vaguely known him in Abnegation, but not well, then slowly grown into the suspicion that this Dauntless person (with all the changes wrought by two years more maturity and two years of Dauntless lifestyle) seemed subtly familiar. Abnegation and Dauntless should stand and move differently, and have different sets to their expressions — failing to recognize an acquaintance last seen when he was half-grown should be easy. It means they wouldn’t be Destined Twu Lurvs, but the relationship’s doing fine without that.

    1. Farla says:
      I think it was the author trying to make it seem more plausible that Tris can’t figure out who he is, but yeah, it was years ago and it’d have worked fine to just say she didn’t see him very often. Abnegation dresses in shapeless bags too, so she’d have never seen much of what he actually looked like.
  4. Pretty Boy says:
    As much as I get the impression that I’m not supposed to be keen on Erudite, the book continues to fail to convince me. I don’t feel like there’s enough solid information one way or the other, and all of Tris’ opinions on the matter seem skewed by Abnegation-coloured glasses, not reasonable opinions on the matter. It’s the same in a number of YA books I’ve read, actually. I need better reason to be against anyone than what I’ve been provided with.

    Also, I too am pretty satisfied with the Albert plotline’s ending, despite the fail in build up. Suicide is always a tricky thing to handle well in writing, but I think the reactions were well done and realistic. Eric’s comments were particularly interesting to me. I absolutely do not think that suicide should be encouraged or supported (and I’ll clarify that I’m separating suicide in the sense of Albert, for example, from euthanasia) when people call it cowardly or selfish I do have issue with that, because really I take it as a form of victim blaming. That said, really happy with Tris’ reaction, not being able to see him as completely evil but at the same time not forgiving him. Probably the best way it could have been handled.

    And I just want to give this book’s romance subplot an old tip of the hat. I came into it worried it’d resemble the awful Katniss/Peeta relationship, which frankly was barely subplot towards the end of the first book, but at this point in the book Tris and Tobias’ relationship seems to be much better than that shitstorm.

    1
    1. Farla says:
      when people call it cowardly or selfish I do have issue with that, because really I take it as a form of victim blaming.

      I think, especially with successful suicides, the rhetoric has little connection to the former person at all and is mostly aimed at discouraging anyone else. They’re too dead to be hurt by anything said now, so the words are for those left. And while there’s the idea we shouldn’t speak ill of the dead to comfort the living, suicides tend to trigger more suicides and social shaming is a mechanism to try to prevent that.

      (How well it works, I’m not sure. Really vehement talk about what complete scumbags people are for committing suicide seems like it would just push people thinking about committing suicide back into feeling everyone would be better off with them gone. After all, if you’re that awful for committing suicide you must be pretty bad just to want to die.)

  5. Danielle says:
    I enjoy your reviews but I’m a little confused as to why there’s such a pass here in regards to Tris and Four’s relationship.

    Just based on this chapter, we’re now at a point where Tris has seen some character growth, and she still says “I fear his mercurially changing moods”.

    Even considering this is the Dauntless faction, Tris shouldn’t be afraid of her romantic partner. Nobody should be. And it’s really troubling that she is.

    Four does seem self-aware, which is… okay, I guess, better than not knowing about his huge character flaw. But we still see him do shit like stab a table in order to re-direct his anger.

    And in a relationship, actual violence is not the only thing to be concerned about. The threat or implicit threat of violence is emotional abuse in and of itself.

    I think that part of the issue is that it’s obvious that the text wants the reader to know that Four won’t ~actually~ hurt Tris because they’re OTP forever, but it’s still a terrible subtext to have in a novel read by young people that it’s totally okay for your BF to be a rageful, unpredictable douche so long as he doesn’t actually hit you.

    And if the subtext is instead that it’s okay for Tris because she’s so Dauntless and brave and can ~take care of herself~ that’s even more nauseating.

    1. Farla says:

      I liked that Four seemed to be a twist on the standard damaged dangerous guy in that he knows he’s got a problem and is trying to deal with it himself rather than it being Tris’ burden to fix him. It helps that Tris has established she hates the idea of being obligated to help people and will ignore or reject emotional demands if she wants.

      I agree that it still plays into the larger narrative of dangerous boyfriends. I’m not sure to what degree works should be judged in isolation and to what degree there’s a responsibility to push against known bad readings. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Skip to toolbar