Last time on Dauntless, Tris manipulates the fuck out of that simulation and makes it obvious to anyone with a tenth of a brain that she’s divergent. Presumably we will now find out no one in the setting has more than 9%
Antag-Eric pops up to say good job and prove my point for me. “You have successfully completed your final evaluation.” I wonder what they say to the people who technically completed it but didn’t score well enough.
You know, telling kids they would only take the best and that they have a strict quota might actually make more sense if it was all a lie and at the end if you can pass the final test you’re in. That’d fit with the general attitude of making people jump off buildings when you do have a net, or that presumably the guns they were taught with were BB guns and not gun-guns.
Then Antag-Eric pulls out yet another syringe.
This will inject you with a tracking device that will be activated only if you are reported missing. Just a precaution.”
“How often do people go missing?” I ask, frowning.
“Not often.” Eric smirks. “This is a new development, courtesy of the Erudite. We have been injecting every Dauntless throughout the day, and I assume all other factions will comply as soon as possible.”
Okay, so obviously this is the Erudites being evil, but let’s ignore that.
This is actually presenting one of those safety vs liberty things Ben Franklin couldn’t see coming. Everyone knowing where you are prevents you from doing stuff you’re not supposed to…but it really does make you safer if you’re in trouble somewhere, and it prevents other people from doing stuff they’re not supposed to do to you. It comes down to what rules there are about where you can be – if there aren’t any, this isn’t a concern.
Who wants this? The only group to care where people are seems like it’s the Abnegation, who are the ones who ordered the Dauntless to guard the gate that locks everyone else inside the city. And the only people allowed beyond appear to be Amity for the sake of practicality and Dauntless going on “scouting missions”, so the Dauntless are best positioned to make a break for it.
Also…technically, “never” is not often. There has still been no sign the Dauntless do anything, and the way they’re so cagey about it convinces me it’s all makework and they just don’t want people to know because they’ll go nuts. In that case all this build is for absolutely nothing, they’re getting this new fancy thing for the same reason they have their guns and knives.
Come to think of it…Erudite may be going stir-crazy too. They have a functioning solar car. I was assuming it’s a recent prototype, but what if it’s not? What if they invent this sort of thing all the time and Abnegation says there’s no point in a broad release? They may have poured all their efforts into weird stuff you inject people with because that’s one of the only areas Abnegation approved of.
Hm. I wonder if they’re metal poor. It’d make sense for the environment, though as usual not their behavior because they should’ve stripped the surrounding area rather than letting it rust away. But if they’re metal poor, they may prefer tiny microchip innovations over giant car innovations. Could they be lacking resources to build solar panels? Maybe Erudite has a limited pile of rare elements they have to keep recycling though various prototypes because they never have enough to actually produce it. That’d also finally give them an Erudie-specific motivation for wanting to take over rather than the general Abnegation are incompetent if not insane reason. Every time they invent something great, they say they need to go beyond the city and try to find more raw materials, and Abnegation says no, we’re fine, everything’s fine, we don’t need to leave, just keep doing what you were doing. Tris won’t read the reports, but they were complaining about not having enough cars, remember? Maybe what they meant was they had solved the problem of not being able to fuel those cars with the super solar panel one, and Abnegation still refused to produce it.
And maybe that’s the real reason the Dauntless’ role was changed. God knows Abnegation doesn’t seem to care about the factionless’ quality of life, but saying they do was a good excuse to hide the real reason they were shifting Dauntless to the gates. The Erudite conflict seems recent while Tris seems to barely remember when the Dauntless hung around the factionless area, so it may be that Abnegation made the first move in that. Erudite complained too long about not being allowed out, Dauntless were put right in their way.
I can’t let him inject me with anything, especially not anything developed by Erudite—maybe even by Jeanine. But I also can’t refuse. I can’t refuse or he will doubt my loyalty again.
No, you can’t refuse because it’s mandatory and it won’t make him doubt your loyalty so much as it’ll make him wonder what you actually know. And then they’ll realize you were lying before. God, Tris, keep up on what you know people know you know.
We learn they’ll have to wait two hours before they find out who made it, even though it should be obvious right now. This occurs to no one because Tobias is too busy saying she’s so great for having only seven fears. I still don’t understand why they act as if the number alone is all that matters.
“I would be surprised if you weren’t ranked first,” he says.
It’s not like this is even in doubt, is it? Each section is ranked more heavily than the last. She was first ranked last section by a mile and now she aced the final section.
“You okay?” he says, touching my cheek. His hand cradles the side of my head, his long fingers slipping through my hair. He smiles and holds my head in place as he kisses me. Heat spreads through me slowly. And fear, buzzing like an alarm in my chest. His lips still on mine, he pushes the jacket from my shoulders. I flinch when I hear it drop, and push him back, my eyes burning. I don’t know why I feel this way. I didn’t feel like this when he kissed me on the train.
This may well be legitimate character development and not the author saying she doesn’t want to bother to go back and edit the scenes from before she had this idea. It jus doesn’t seem very likely.
Tris explains she’s suddenly really worried about why he likes her, because the fact Dauntless think girls are hot if they’re fearless and she’s fearless is not enough of an explanation.
“What? Sex?” He scowls at me. “You know, if that was all I wanted, you probably wouldn’t be the first person I would go to.”
I feel like he just punched me in the stomach. Of course I’m not the first person he would go to—not the first, not the prettiest, not desirable. I press my hands to my abdomen and look away, fighting off tears. I am not the crying type. Nor am I the yelling type. I blink a few times, lower my hands, and stare up at him.
“I’m going to leave now,” I say quietly. And I turn toward the door.
“No, Tris.” He grabs my wrist and wrenches me back. I push him away, hard, but he grabs my other wrist, holding our crossed arms between us.
“I’m sorry I said that,” he says. “What I meant was that you aren’t like that. Which I knew when I met you.”
There’s a way of doing this that isn’t about how guys only want a girl for a real relationship who “isn’t like that”.
It is, ironically, with more casual sex. If he said that, in Dauntless, people have one night stands all the time, he could be saying this because the Dauntless community doesn’t create a situation where guys feel they need to trick girls into serious relationships in order to get laid at all.
Instead, she confesses about what happened during the test and he reassures her he’s totally an awkward virgin too, because one night stands are evil. Incidentally, this just gives credence to the idea that’s what he’s after, especially when he’s embarrassed to be a virgin – he’s made sure to pick a girl that can’t possibly have more experience than him.
Anyway, now that we’re established they’re both pure virgins the sexings can continue.
Only to be interrupted by tattoo talk. Turns out Tris hasn’t been an idiot about the Abnegation tattoo and it’s been covered this whole time. She just didn’t mention it. Tobias, instead of asking her how fucking stupid is she, says he’s got one too! Their babies will be the bravest idiots.
On his back is more ink than skin. The symbols of each faction are drawn there—Dauntless at the top
of his spine, Abnegation just below it, and the other three, smaller, beneath them. For a few seconds I look at the scales that represent Candor, the eye that stands for Erudite, and the tree that symbolizes Amity. It makes sense that he would tattoo himself with the symbol of Dauntless, his refuge, and even the symbol of Abnegation, his place of origin, like I did. But the other three?
“I think we’ve made a mistake,” he says softly. “We’ve all started to put down the virtues of the other factions in the process of bolstering our own. I don’t want to do that. I want to be brave, and selfless, and smart, and kind, and honest.”
This is a really great scene that doesn’t seem to fit well with the rest of the plot.
The factions would be pretty messed up just by rejecting the other faction’s traits, as I’ve continually mocked. But most of what we’ve seen as wrong with the factions isn’t this. Dauntless is wrong because they are sadistic and self-destructive. They actually seem accepting of selflessness (Eric does let Tris take Al’s place) they just don’t reward it which seems totally reasonable given their different focus, and what they mock about Abnegation is the parts of Abnegation that are ridiculous, which is everything but their one virtue. They love the Erudite and the only negativity we’ve heard about Candor has some from Tobias himself and seemed to just be him being really testy that day. Even Amity, who are their obvious opposition, don’t seem to be getting slammed in conversation. (If they’re actually feuding with the faction, the perfect time to explain this would’ve been when we found they have Dauntless doctors here. We were instead presented with it as a convenience thing.)
I traded cowardice for cruelty; I traded weakness for ferocity.
No, you traded passivity for cowardice! You were not a coward in Abnegation, you had no options in your role that would allow you to act differently. In Dauntless, you have the options of confronting fear and the most you manage is that you willingly let them inject you with something that makes you experience horrible stuff, but you fail over and over again to actually confront them! And without the slightest sense of irony, you go on to say:
I brush over Abnegation’s symbol with my fingertips. “We have to warn them, you know. Soon.”
“I know,” he says. “We will.”
YOU COULD WARN THEM RIGHT NOW YOU IDIOTS!
Tobias’ inability to get over his fear of his father and the fact he refuses to be a faction leader because he can’t handle even seeing the guy ever again may be what’s preventing him from leaving. But however understandable it is, it’s still being controlled by fear. And Tris, as outlined earlier, has even less excuse. They could leave right now if they wanted. Given she’s already passed the test, it’s not even clear if she would actually jeopardize her standing doing so – it’s a risk, but not a certainty like it was earlier.
We then go back to Tris saying she’s scared of how she wants to fuck him, more making out as Tobias agrees.
Next chapter Tris heads back to her friends and continues to pretend she and Tobias aren’t dating with increasingly terrible lies:
“I just wandered around,” I say. “I was too nervous to talk to everyone else about it.”
“You have no reason to be nervous,” Christina says, shaking her head.
Yes yes but more importantly, she can’t have been nervous if she did that well on the fear test, because fear of how she’s going to do would’ve popped up and incapacitated her during the test in that case.
I detect a note of jealousy in her voice, and again, I wish I could explain that I was well prepared for the simulation, because of what I am.
This keeps coming up and I’m starting to think it’s a problem how it’s presented. Tris is saying she wishes she could say her accomplishments aren’t really something she earned, not that she has an unfair advantage, and never considers that people might be more angry to hear she’s coasting by on a glitch. It’s really weird and I wonder if the only reason it appears at all is because women are expected not to do better than other people, so much so that saying you cheated your way to victory more acceptable than actually succeeding.
“I’m thinking I might want a job like Four’s. Training initiates,” she says. “Scaring the living daylights out of them.
That’s not a real job, Christina. It only happens once a year. And it’s not like there’s even a point to it. You can’t be a good teacher or a bad teacher since the exact same number of kids graduate either way. I guess you could try to alter the tone of the faction by trying to control who gets in, but if the trainers had any say in that, Peter would be out already.
I was so focused on getting through initiation that I barely thought about it.
God damn it author just go back and edit!
Tris has been speculating about her life in Dauntless every ten minutes. She’s also been worried about being found out and what job she has will affect that. Infuriatingly, Tris actually has a very good current reason for feeling like this – it isn’t about being divergent, which is what she’ll go on to whine about as usual, but the fact she currently intends to return to her birth faction to warn them Dauntless is in cahoooooooots with Erudite. Whatever happens after that will determine what, if any, job she’ll end up with in Dauntless.
I could work for the Dauntless leaders—but they would kill me if they discover what I am. What else is there?
“I guess…I could be an ambassador to the other factions,” I say. “I think being a transfer would help me.”
“I was so hoping you would say Dauntless-leader-in-training,” sighs Christina. “Because that’s what Peter wants. He couldn’t shut up about it in the dorm earlier.”
So even the initiates already know that fence-guarding is pointless bullshit.
Also, so ambassador is a job that doesn’t involve working for the leaders, or being a leader. But being the representative from Erudite makes you the only leader. Meanwhile, being the bridge between factions trading on the fact you came from another faction is the best way to prevent anyone figuring out you’re not Dauntless to the core.
And in none of her reasoning is the fact she supposedly is Dauntless and knows that the leaders are involved in some giant secret plot. She doesn’t even care about learning more, or being in a position like Tobias’ where she would have another way of learning more about it. The only kind of bravery that matters is jumping off cliffs.
“Question,” says Christina, leaning forward. “The leaders who were watching your fear landscape…they were laughing about something.”
Tris tries to lie here, but Christina’s plot dependent anti-lying sense kicks in, then turns off just in time for Tris to bullshit the fear of sex as not involving anyone in particular.
Eric clears his throat and begins. “We aren’t big on speeches here. Eloquence is for Erudite,” he says. The crowd laughs. I wonder if they know that he was an Erudite once; that under all the pretense of Dauntless recklessness and even brutality, he is more like an Erudite than anything else.
So Erudites are so evil everything wrong with Dauntless, down to Dauntless-specific abuses, is actually Erudite.
Also even aside from the fact he’s obviously Dauntless, Occam’s razor alone says that the most likely explanation is he’s Dauntless who favored blood over faction……………kind of like Tris.
“We believe in bravery. We believe in taking action. We believe in freedom from fear and in acquiring the skills to force the bad out of our world so that the good can prosper and thrive. If you also believe in those things, we welcome you.” Even though I know Eric probably doesn’t believe in any of those things, I find myself smiling, because I believe in them. No matter how badly the leaders have warped the Dauntless ideals, those ideals can still belong to me.
No, I don’t think those were warped by the leaders. Those being their goals would have driven them nuts no matter what people’s intentions.
For god’s sake, Tris, LOOK AROUND YOU. There are no actions to be taken. Your society is static and revolves around huddling in the crumbling, lifeless remains of Chicago. You don’t know if anything exists beyond you, you don’t know your own history…and yet even you know that the Dauntless aren’t guarding you from anyone. Your Erudite tendencies, your supposed curiosity, it isn’t enough to make you wonder for an instant about the possibility of guarding the gate and getting promoted, because it’s so obvious there’s nothing there.
As you say in the beginning, the faction compromise happened and then nothing ever did again, because everyone’s too scared that changing anything will disrupt the balance of power. There is no bad for them to fight and no good that can prosper.
Candor can spend their time on arguing with each other and living ordinary lives. Amity and Abnegation spend it endlessly bailing out the ship. But Dauntless and Erudite are set against the status quo. Their goals are to make things better.
And they can’t.
There was no other way this would’ve ended up. You can’t organize people by the thing they feel is most important in the world and then tell them they can never do it.
For that matter, I wonder if all the other factions aren’t nearing their breaking points. How does Candor, of the absolute truth, feel about their isolation and ignorance? How does Amity feel about the rest of it falling apart – the starving factionless, the Dauntless tearing themselves apart? They’re therapists too, they must be getting people in from the other factions saying their lives are pointless, their goals and ideals unreachable, that what’s anything matter if all they do is just wait while the buildings crumble away into dust? Maybe Candor’s lack of direction and Amity’s distance are because they’re no happier with this that the rest.
Really, the longer this book continues the clearer it is that only Abnegation gets what they want here, because Abnegation doesn’t want anything good to happen. They want misery so they can swoop in and selflessly help, and they don’t want anything to improve because then the misery might stop and without misery they have no purpose.
Next to the number one is my picture, and the name “Tris.”
A weight in my chest lifts. I didn’t realize it was there until it was gone, and I didn’t have to feel it anymore. I smile, and a tingling spreads through me. First. Divergent or not, this faction is where I belong.
Except for the part where being divergent gives you an unbeatable advantage on the test that Dauntless happens to use for their initiation.
Instead of Tris constantly wishing she could tell her friends she’s cheating so they wouldn’t hate her, there could be a good moment here – where Tris thinks she’s not Dauntless at all, she’s only ranked first because she knew how to control the simulations, if she was really Dauntless she would have left for Abnegation already rather than being controlled by fear of what would happen if she did.
I forget about war; I forget about death.
Nothing like that at all.
Editing out the chatter, we get:
Eight, nine, and ten are Dauntless-borns whose names I barely recognize.
Eleven and twelve are Molly and Drew.
She celebrates that the hanger-on and the person who said mean things to reporter are gone. I lament at how our focus has shifted – in the first section, everyone was named. Now we don’t even have her knowing the people who’ll stick around.
Only two of the Dauntlessborn were eliminated in the first run, leaving nine behind. So three of them do worse than Molly and Drew.
Of all factions, you’d really think Dauntless kids who aren’t suited for it would cut and run. And since initiations are public, they’d know the ranking system is in place. They’d even know they can’t assume they’ll do better than a transfer, because of our two samples, Tris tops this one and Tobias and Eric topped a few years ago.
Which means that only the incredibly brave would stick around, which then makes it all the odder that they have about a fifty percent failure rate. None of the transfers were expecting to have to go through this shit, yet they did almost exactly as well. If Edward hadn’t been stabbed, the transfers would have done even better.
And unlike Abnegation, there’s no sign the Dauntless hate transfers. At minimum, they respect Erudite and if this group is normal, about half the adults are made up of transfers from that and Candor. Christina’s kid will grow up knowing that Mom may be brave, but she wasn’t brave enough to handle the truth serum initiation of Candor so Candor people must be pretty brave too.
“You think giving you a hug would give away too much?” he says.
“You know,” I say, “I really don’t care.”
Tris, how do you expect the readers to be invested in your wellbeing if you can’t give a shit about it for more than a few pages at a time?
I guess Tris’ intelligence works on a bennies system or something, because when she willingly does something stupid, she’s rewarded with her brain suddenly turning on.
One: Colored serum contains transmitters.
Two: Transmitters connect the mind to a simulation program.
Three: Erudite developed the serum.
Four: Eric and Max are working with the Erudite.
Ah. Not sure how to feel about this – there were all these pieces set up, with Jeanine working on making the simulation longer and the fact the fear landscape version has people actually moving around. On the other hand, we also spent all that time on how Dauntless thought Erudite was super cool and everyone there loathes Abnegation, so they were already primed to just go do it on their own.
“Tris?” he says, confused.
I shake my head. “Not now.”
And now I know how to feel. I’m back to being pissed off Tris won’t do anything about this.
Let’s head to the next chapter and see when is the right time.
I TRY TO get Tobias alone after the rankings are announced, but the crowd of initiates and members is too thick, and the force of their congratulations pulls him away from me. I decide to sneak out of the dormitory after everyone is asleep and find him, but the fear landscape exhausted me more than I realized, so soon enough, I drift off too.
I would say you deserve everything that happens to you now, but this is going to fuck over other people instead.
Everything that happens to those other people is on your head you fucking self-centered idiot.
Tris wakes up to see everyone else getting up and sleepwalking their way out.
You know, all the author needed was for it to kick in at the party. There’s no need for the delay. Have it kick in right after the injection, so she doesn’t spend all that time wandering around doing nothing. Especially when the serum seems to wear off over time – I assume this is what Jeanine working on making it longer lasting is about, but longer than it does now doesn’t mean forever, it just means longer, you’d still want to get as much use as you can.
That’d also have let us have something more here than it mysteriously not working on Tris at all because divergent presumably. Instead, she should notice the edges getting blurry, be suspicious, try to edit it using her usual ability and end up kicking herself out of the simulation when it diverges too far from whatever the shared simulation is.
So she zombie marches out with the rest and does so convincingly enough that Max the evil doesn’t realize anything’s afoot.
There are rows of tables with mounds of black on them. I can’t see what the piles are until I am a foot away from them. Guns.
Of course. Eric said every Dauntless was injected yesterday. So now the entire faction is brain-dead, obedient, and trained to kill.
See, this seems less a cautionary tale about getting mindcontrol injections and more about producing mounds of guns. None of this would be a problem if they didn’t have a faction whose only hat was to be soldiers in a world that doesn’t even have crime.
I can’t wage war against Abnegation, against my family. I would rather die. My fear landscape proved that. My list of options narrows, and I see the path I must take. I will pretend long enough to get to the Abnegation sector of the city. I will save my family.
And whatever happens after that doesn’t matter. A blanket of calm settles over me.
Tris seems to be willfully ignoring that she did, in fact, have other options before this. That her family is only in danger because she didn’t leave to tell them as soon as she found out.
She sees Tobias in the crowd and edges to him, still insisting her boyfriend must also be divergent. He’s a way better actor than she is and she thinks she was wrong, but then it turns out she was right. This book is just full of disappointments today.
Oh, also it turns out the trains can stop normally. Why did they even bother building working brakes on these things?
His dark eyes are insistent as he says, “Run.”
“My family,” I say.
So instead she just keeps marching calmly, because when she said she’d pretend long enough to get to the sector, she meant she was just going to keep pretending until the author felt it was enough. So they march and they march and they march.
No one seems to be doing anything. Are we really here for war?
I walk a half mile before I get an answer to that question.
I start to hear popping sounds. I can’t look around to see where they’re coming from, but the farther I walk, the louder and sharper they get, until I recognize them as gunshots.
So in the end, Abnegation’s braver than Dauntless because this entire affair is apparently happening in dead silence. They are however exactly as stupid as Dauntless, because screaming would be productive here.
Tris deals with this by continuing to roboticly march.
Some adult members of Abnegation are herded toward one of the nearby buildings, along with the Abnegation children. A sea of black-clothed soldiers guard the doors.
And Tris heroically stays with the herd and does jack shit.
Eric pops up to exposit about how cool this is and fail to think anything of the fact Tris and Tobias are right next to each other despite starting nowhere near and then that he wants to shoot Tobias now because he’s mad everyone thinks Tobias is cooler. He’s told yeah sure. She puts her gun to Eric’s head before he can.
“Too bad you didn’t just take Max up on his offer, Four. Well, too bad for you, anyway,” says Eric quietly, as he clicks the bullet
“Get your gun away from his head,” I say.
“You won’t shoot me,” Eric replies.
“Interesting theory,” I say. But I can’t murder him; I can’t.
A coward to the last, eh?
She heroically shoots Eric in the foot, which luckily does not make him fire his own gun, Tobias fires at the other non-zombie and also doesn’t aim anywhere vital, and she and her useless boyfriend flee. They don’t get far.
“Divergent rebels,” Eric says, standing on one foot. His face is a sickly white. “Surrender your weapons.”
Shooting him properly would’ve avoided this. This is why they tried to teach you not to flinch.