Last time, the Dauntless decide to spy on the meeting.
Today, we’re still in a version of the story where there’s a meeting, although of course it could be a totally different meeting. It’s impossible to ever know for sure.
Christina, who sits with her Candor family at one of the other tables.
“I wonder if we’ll be able to return to the old way after all this is over,” says Lauren.
“If there’s a faction left after all this is over,” Lynn says
This is one of those things that works with what we were seeing in Original Universe Divergent. The faction system is relatively recent and their society seems to be running on inertia more than anything. They have a couple features to try to encourage it, like an official statement that faction before blood, inter-faction rivalries and a system of kids leaving their families for induction into a new group, but they also have families allowed to visit their kids afterwards and statements that all the factions are good and serve an important purpose.
In other words, they managed to change whatever their original society was enough that the faction system was stable under normal circumstances, but not enough it could weather upsets. If this was a long established setting, I’d think this was ridiculous because something like this would’ve happened before and the society would have needed to adapt to handle it to continue. But it’s not! It’s quite reasonable that this is the first major shock and it’s broken down the foundations of their society as a result.
In fact, the bigger issue is that from what we’ve seen, it’s not clear it would even last this long. I think we can excuse a lot of that by Tris being totally oblivious of the world around her prior to entering Dauntless, but that just raises the counterpoint of that not making for good writing. Going off what we’ve seen from Tris, I’d think the faction system would dissolve in the second generation, like most attempts to create some new society. I think it’d work if we saw more signs of the factions not getting along, instead of just everyone hating Abnegation because Abnegation hates them, prosperity, and explaining anything about why they’re doing things. We get blips of this, but it generally comes off as relatively friendly with a sense their way is personally best as opposed to viewing the others as fools and incompetents who waste their time and everyone’s resources. Overall, we know everyone but Abnegation loved the helpful Erudite, Dauntless and Candor seem like they’ve got some good overlap, and even Amity and Dauntless seem like they’d get along because Dauntless would appreciate their work in running hospitals while Amity wouldn’t say anything mean regardless.
I think the author knows this, actually, with the line from Tris about how things haven’t changed since society was set up because it’d mean war. The factions are presumably supposed to be locked in a five-way hatefest, where no one group can try to take over because the other four would unite to oppose them. Done right, you could even do something clever with Erudite where inititally it seems like Erudite’s pretty great given it’s the only faction no one has a harsh word regardless of faction for while they’re otherwise always going on about how the other factions suck. Then when Erudite makes their power play, we realize that was actually a bad thing because the factions hating each other was the only thing keeping the system stable.
A group of Dauntless walk between our table and the one next to us. They are older than Tobias, but not by much. One of the girls has five different colors in her hair, and her arms are covered with tattoos so that I can’t see even an inch of bare skin. One of the boys leans close to Tobias, whose back is to them, and whispers, “Coward,” as he passes.
I’m really dubious of why we hear extensive detail about the girl when it’s not clear she actually does anythings. Tattoos have been a positive thing to Dauntless, but they’ve never been described like this and Tris doesn’t use a single positive modifier for them either, so it comes off as invoking our associations for girls covered in tattoos with dyed hair instead. The author may just be trying to emphasize the group is super-Dauntlessy to give weight to their rejection of Tobias, but if that’s the idea, it’d have been better for Tris to say something to indicate she was initially very positive toward the group and the “coward” bit comes off as that much more of a shock.
“What idiots,” says Lauren. “And the Candor, for making you spill your life story for everyone to see … they’re idiots too.”
You know, I just realized there’s a solution to this. Dauntless is leaderless. If people had grumbled afterward that the Candor shouldn’t have done that and made it clear that it’d happen because they lacked anyone to officially object on behalf of their faction as a whole and Dauntless group were still so shocked and disoriented no one spoke up individually.
That’d also tie in with their inability to make a good case to the Candor and general disorgainization.
Tris is worried Tobias will lose it, but he’s calm. I think that Tobias makes sense as someone who’s really good at smothering justified anger so it blows up at stupid points – that fits well with everyone’s perception he’s scary, since it makes him come off as unpredictable and angry out of proportion with whatever the slight was, and with the blowups we’ve actually seen: he flips the hell out at Christina for being chatty and asking questions, he flips out at Tris for not understanding he was trying to help, but he lets Eric walk all over him because he knows any reaction from him would just make it worse. From his POV, he probably just sees all his anger as the problem and it’s just he’s less able to handle it when it’s coming from an unfamiliar source, while if he didn’t smother it in the first place he might be able to stop exploding at all.
And of course, we know Tobias already believes he’s a horrible failure of a person and everyone should hate him for being a coward, so this isn’t unexpected at all.
You know, normally I’d make some statement here about lol why no therapists, but they do have therapists! And they’re Amity, and prior to doping Tris up, he thought Amity were awesome and their ideals were beautiful and he loved each and every one of them for being so so great.
So why the hell wasn’t he in therapy? The only thing I can think of is that it’d compromise his position in Dauntless, but he apparently was planning on leaving anyway rather than trying to do any good there. So the alterative must be that the therapists aren’t for faction members, but that leaves only the under-sixteen kids, but if counseling them was a thing, the most common source of angst is presumably what faction you’ll pick, and we know that kids are never ever supposed to talk about that with anybody. I guess Amity’s legion of therapists is solely for the other Amity members. …actually, considering they apparently live in conflict-averse communes, yeah, maybe all the therapists are busy just handling their own faction.
Anyway, Tobias does not flip out and is instead super creepy calm.
“This needs to stop,” he says distantly, and starts toward whatever it is he’s looking at before I figure out what it is. This can’t be good.
He slips between the tables and the people like he’s more liquid than solid, and I stumble after him, muttering apologies as I push people aside.
::::D Tobias is going to do a thing! Tris is wrong, it is very good. He assaults Marcus and beats the guy with his own belt.
“This is for your own good,” he says.
This is the only sign we get this isn’t totally calculated, since no one but Tris and Marcus have the context to make sense of this and even if the others did it’s fucked up. I like it, since it works well as a sign of Tobias’ strain that he seems to be disassociating and acting out his dad’s abuse in full instead of just acting to make a show for everyone else.
All around me is laughter, coming from the Dauntless tables, but I am not laughing, I cannot possibly laugh at this.
Okay, Tobias is obviously under a lot of strain, but that’s all the more reason you should make it clear you support him in beating his dad up.
She eventually realizes that shit, she needs to stop this.
I expect to see a wild look in his eyes, but when he looks at me, I do not. His face is not flushed and his breaths are steady. This was not an act performed in the heat of passion.
It was a calculated act.
Sort of. I think she’s mistaking that calm and it’s more because he’s shutting down.
I’m disappointed but not surprised this wouldn’t occur to Tris, since we all know she hates thinking. But it makes perfect sense. Tobias has four fears, but he’s very good at forcing himself past them, even, as she found out when she climbed the ferris wheel, in the real world. He doesn’t like doing so and avoids it when he can, but does it as soon as it’s necessary with barely a moment’s hesitation.
So in other words, of course he’d decide to assault his dad now that people know he’s scared of the guy, and of course he’d manage to go through it. Even if we couldn’t extrapolate this easily from the way he handles heights, we’ve spent chapter upon chapter of Tobias being able to handle being around his dad just fine. Too fine, really, he didn’t even show signs of stress then, like he did when climbing.
Tobias then drops a necklace with his mom’s ring on it.
“My mother,” says Tobias, “says hello.”
That’s all dramatic as fuck, but it’s even more a non sequitor than his other statement.
He walks off, probably wishing he had a long coat to billow behind him, and Tris gives chase. Since again, thought bad, she still has no idea what’s going on and demands to know wtf?
“It was necessary,” he says.
“Necessary for what?” I say.
“What, you’re feeling sorry for him now?” Tobias says, turning toward me with a scowl.
Tris is shocked by his anger, but it fits perfectly with what I just outlined of Tobias’ blowups being at things he wasn’t expecting. Presumably if someone else was objecting, he’d accept it calmly as he’s accepted everyone else loves his dad even when he says the guy’s a monster in front of two factions under truth serum because who the fuck knows nothing makes sense.
Tris very, very slowly works out that the part where she noticed Tobias explicitly acting out his dad’s role may have been kind of rehersed. Christ, Tris. The most annoying part, really, is that she does figure it out on her own. She was entirely capable of doing so at any point but she only bothers when Tobias makes it clear she has to work it out for their conversation now to make any sense.
If people had to spell everything out themselves for Tris, it’d be annoying to read in general, but I’d be less annoyed at Tris herself.
Finally, she works out that she should explain that yes, fuck his asshole dad I hope he dies, at which point he demands to know what the problem is, and, realizing the conversation can end with her just not saying anything, she decides not to turn her brain back on long enough to understand she should say she’s concerned for him.
I am almost afraid of him. I don’t know what to say or do around the erratic part of him, and it is here, bubbling just beneath the surface of what he does, just like the cruel part of me.
It’s not erratic. Seriously, he’s acting just like a less crazy violent version of when you didn’t get what he was doing with the throwing knives.
Also, after his truth serum bit about failing his faction, it should also be obvious he has problems feeling worthy of things, which is why you should really be clearer that you’re concerned for him and not objecting to what he did – really, what else would you expect him to think when you objected to him beating his dad, especially after seeing everyone else treat Marcus like he’s the second coming?
Tobias says he did it to stop the whole coward business, and Tris wonders why because she doesn’t think it’s simply because he doesn’t like people treating him like that. Incidentally, Tris, the very fact you can be so sure of that about him should highlight some major self-worth problems of his.
Tris helpfully mentions that I had all but forgotten about what I heard in the Amity compound, about the information my father risked his life for. Supposedly, I remind myself. It may not be wise to trust Marcus.
So that still happened in this version of the story! Actually, this whole section seems to have wobbled mostly back toward the original.
Can’t believe you just forgot about that, though. Well, no, I guess I can. Dammit, Tris.
Tris goes into the bathroom where Marcus has tried to clean himself up. She says she wants to remind him that “Whatever it is you want to get from Jeanine, you won’t be able to do it alone, and you won’t be able to do it with only the Abnegation to help you.” He tries to tell her she’s useless, and she says he’s delusional and she knows that after long enough of being the useless fuckup himself, he’ll realize it, and she’ll be waiting.
Of course, it makes no sense for Marcus to be delusional instead of fucking with her head when he said that, but assuming the Candor guy calling her a little girl is in the same story as where this passage comes from, I think the idea is actually surprise sexism. Book, you so did not need sexism.
Next chapter, Tris attempts to get over her gun phobia Dauntless style – she runs into the bathroom for privacy so no one can see her shameful fear, then tries to force herself to hold the gun properly.
The weight is familiar. My index finger slips around the trigger. I release a breath.
I start to lift it, bringing my left hand to meet my right to steady it. I hold the gun out from my body, my arms straight, just as Four taught me, when that was his only name. I used a gun like this to defend my father and brother from simulation-bound Dauntless. I used it to stop Eric from shooting Tobias in the head. It is not inherently evil. It is just a tool.
I see a flicker of movement in the mirror, and before I can stop myself, I stare at my reflection. This is how I looked to him, I think. This is how I looked when I shot him.
Moaning like a wounded animal, I let the gun fall from my hands and wrap my arms around my stomach. I want to sob because I know it will make me feel better, but I can’t force the tears to come. I just crouch in the bathroom, staring at the white tiles. I can’t do it. I can’t take the gun with me.
I’m sure this is not meant to fit my theory about PTSD only forming outside the simulations, but even ignoring that theory, this is clearly a different situation than a straightforward fear. Tris is crippled by guilt-related flashbacks, not straightforward fear.
Tobias comes in to talk to her about the plan. Tris just lashes out that it’s not like he talks to her about his plans.
“Why should I tell you? You don’t tell me about your plans.”
His straight eyebrows furrow. “What are you talking about?”
“I’m talking about beating Marcus to a pulp in front of all the Dauntless for no apparent reason.” I step toward him. “But there is a reason, isn’t there? Because it’s not like you lost control; it’s not like he did something to provoke you, so there has to be a reason!”
“I needed to prove to the Dauntless that I am not a coward,” he says.
I’m not sure it’s intended, but the impression I have is that he had no idea she didn’t get this and that’s why he didn’t explain, because it’s kind of fucking obvious. I’m actually vaguely disappointed this didn’t trigger a blowup from him, as Tobias is least interesting when he’s trending toward perfect boyfriend and anyway, it’s not like it’s his rages Tris fears. Screaming out his feelings while punching holes in the walls would probably be an improvement from her POV, since we’ve established she wants to use minimal brainpower for figuring out anything, emotions including.
Since Tobias isn’t willing to do that now, Tris grudgingly works out that if he makes the Dauntless like him again, he’ll be able to take them over and then get them to join the factionless to create an army big enough to swamp the Erudite/Dauntless coallition under a tide of mostly untrained cannon fodder. Yay?
He then says that in contrast, her plan bugs him because it seems like charging headlong into danger and she’s been doing that an awful lot. Tris is distracted by how hot he is, then realizes this is not the time. What it is the time for is asking why he’s changed his hairstyle and if he’s trying to look more Dauntlessy. Which in context must mean the Dauntless trend toward long hair, because he had short hair before and it was a plot point.
Tobias says there’s no actual need for her to go when there’s already others going, and also people with suicide wishes who can’t use guns shouldn’t run around dangerous places. Sadly, he still doesn’t explicitly accuse her of a suicide wish, which would be really helpful because I’m pretty sure it’s what he means but I don’t think Tris gets it and being told she’s acting anything like that would probably shock her and make her consider her actions more. I’m almost certain she’s not suicidal, but in the act of arguing why she’s not and why killing herself would be dumb, she might figure out what she actually is and why she should try harder to avoid getting herself killed.
Instead, Tris just issues the ultimatum that the only way to stop her will be to lock her in.
Tobias, being superior to Peeta, does not counter with “I’ll follow behind you and fuck up to ruin everything and get myself killed and then you’ll be sorry you didn’t obey me.” Also, by having a valid objection in the first place, but mostly the not trying to blackmail her with his death. Instead, he says he was trying to get her to stop acting this way, not literally throw a stop sign in her path this time. Since she won’t, he’ll go too. Hopefully Tris will decide her boyfriend is worthy of a few minutes brain activity and turn hers on long enough to realize he must really believe she’s in danger given his fear of heights and he’s not just being a dick about this.
Then there’s a long section about getting to their vantage point, which apparently involves hanging out on girders instead of behind walls because Dauntless are taught to be brave, not taught about the value of concielment when spying.
The Dauntless know that we are here, though Jack Kang himself does not. If he stares down for more than a few seconds, he might see us through the metal mesh beneath his feet. I try to breathe as quietly as possible.
Everyone is too stupid to live.
Max, who, like everyone, is unable to see through mesh due to magic, appears. I wonder if this is meant to provoke the other Dauntless into a murder that’ll convince Jack to break ties with the Dauntless completely.
“Where’s Jeanine? I thought she would at least have the courtesy to show up herself.”
Which is pretty damn weird. He presumably isn’t lying for effect because Candor. but earlier the group was talking about her sending a representitive as if it was already known for sure.
Tris finally shows some glimpse of why she qualifies as vaguely sorta kinda Eruditeish slightly.
I frown. I haven’t heard Max speak much, but something about the words he’s using, and their rhythm, sounds … off.
Look at that! No huge delay, no person making it clear that by god they were just going to keep talking as if it’s obvious and if Tris wants to make any headway she’ll have to work it out herself, just Tris noticing of her own volition that something’s up.
“I should inform you that this will not be a negotiation,” Max says. “In order to negotiate, you have to be on even footing, and you, Jack, are not.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean that you are the only disposable faction. Candor does not provide us with protection, sustenance, or technological innovation. Therefore you are expendable to us. And you have not done much to win the favor of your Dauntless guests,” says Max, “so you are completely vulnerable and completely useless. I recommend, therefore, that you do exactly as I say.”
It would actually fit with what we’ve seen across all universes if they literally had an entire faction with no necessary jobs. Frankly, I’m increasingly unclear if Candor holds any at all – they’re supposed to be judges, but crime is handled internally and they sure seemed to have no opinion on the legality of anything that’s happened. Plus, their only way of investigating anything is truth serum, which anyone could use, followed by barely asking any questions, so just about anyone would use it better.
If these guys are functionally like the post-feudal aristrocacy, that sure puts a new spin on the fact every time we saw people complaining about shortages it was Candor, and one of their grieviences was that every Candor teen didn’t have a car.
It’s also just barely plausible given the faction system doesn’t seem to have any practical use and they’ve had to build their society around it afterward, plus the fact no one seems at all interested in proper resource management and we see, from the broken streets in the opening of the first book to the rotting apples to now that their primary limiting factor is always if anyone wants to do it at the moment.
On another note, the Candor/Erudite confusion continues, with Erudite being the blunt ones refusing to negociate. Tris was sure Jeanine would want to manipulate Jack, and perhaps we’ll be told this is manipulation of a kind by putting him off balance, but it’d have been far easier to let Jack tell them his terms, then mock him like this if they weren’t good enough. Given we know his terms were going to be “I’ll give you everything you want in return for you pinkie-swearing we’re not next” it’s stupid to risk antagonizing him. The more overbearing Erudite is, the more obvious it is to Jack that Erudite will just take his faction next. This is even worse if the faction leaders are in general contact with each other and he knows Jeanine well enough to know she likes to rant about how the useless must be cleansed with fire – they will be lucky if she only decides to add them to her zombie army.
Oh, right, and Tris figures out it’s Jeanine talking. Of course, she doesn’t want to admit she actually reasoned like a filthy Erudite, so she says I should trust my instincts, and my instincts tell me because instincts are good, reason evil.
Jeanine would not trust anyone, particularly not a volatile Dauntless, to speak on her behalf. The best solution to that problem is to give Max an earpiece.
Well, you could probably use the simulation system too, but she may not have wanted to make up a custom program and, while Max appears to be oblivious to the fact he’s just standing there parroting her words as a sort of human remote speaker because she thinks he can’t even handle an unconditional surrender by a coward, maybe literally using him as her flesh puppet would be too obvious even for him.
More importantly, Tris informs us that the signal from an earpiece can stretch only a quarter of a mile at most. from which we can learn that they have apparently lost the arcane technology of relays and signal boosting.
If Erudite wasn’t making solar supercars, this would actually be an interesting bit of worldbuilding, where they don’t really have the ability to make new things so they can’t tap into any of the existing systems that seem able to span the whole city (the cameras, the simulation serum, etc).
Huh. I just realized they don’t have phones.
Tris attempts to communicate that “earpiece” but of course she’s trying to do this in slow motion charades because no one thought to bring a pad of paper.
“I have three requirements,” says Max. “First, that you return the Dauntless leader you currently hold in captivity unharmed. Second, that you allow your compound to be searched by our soldiers so that we can extract the Divergent; and third, that you provide us with the names of those who were not injected with the simulation serum.”
“Why?” Jack says bitterly. “What are you searching for? And why do you need those names? What do you intend to do with them?”
Now, in the section I read, the only thing Jack seemed at all interested in was punishing the single individual who killed the kid and said outright that if Erudite wanted only a minority of their faction he was totally fine letting them die. He also insisted that there was nothing wrong with injecting the serum via the method of shooting their way into Candor HQ and assaulting the entier population.
This Jack does not appear to be that Jack, given he’s objecting to the two points that he explicitly said he supported. I do not know what this Jack said then, but my guess is that, faced with conflicting evidence, he declared that in the name of truth, he would meet with Jeanine to find out what was really going on. After all, as a Candor, he’s good at telling truth from lie simply by looking at someone (and this, in turn, gives our real jusification for why Jeanine would send someone in her place, and why Max wouldn’t object to just parroting his words. He knows that if he talks, Jack will be able to get information from his behavior, but if he repeats exactly what the earpiece says and deliberately doesn’t think about the words, it should confuse the matter enough that even the top Candor won’t be able to spot a lie.)
That would also fit with the concern that Erudite will shoot Jack outright – if he’s not starting this discussion already willing to do what they want, they probably would get an advantage by killing him and hoping a leaderless Candor will be easy pickings (as we are speaking of the version in which Erudite having one representitive is not called out as strange and unusual, but where, apparently, Dauntless having multiple leaders is the unusual thing). It even gives us a way to make sense of Tris’ statement that Jack has nothing the Erudite want (ie, no bargaining chips in the sense of denying services to get them to leave the Candor alone) and will only be useful if manipulated (convinced Erudite is right and he should give up the divergent).
…of course, they’re currently doing a shitastic job making that argument, so that can’t be what’s going on in whichever story we’re currently on.
“The purpose of our search would be to locate and remove any of the Divergent from the premises. And as for the names, that is none of your concern.”
What? The people not injected as obviously relevant in that they haven’t been checked to see if they’re divergent. Erudite may also want to know who they can’t zombie at whim, but there’s a perfectly good, perfectly obvious existing reason, that they need to know who the remaining potential divergents are if their goal is to locate and remove divergents.
Jack is just pissed off by not being told that explicitly. You know, maybe Jeanine’s just doing it because she thinks that if you’re too stupid to see the obvious you don’t deserve it explained. Anyway, he grabs Max.
“Release me,” says Max. “Or I will order my guards to fire.”
I frown. If Jeanine is speaking through Max, she had to be able to see him in order to know that he was grabbed.
Tris, unless in your world “earpiece” is the term for where you hide the batteries of the speaker inserted through the skull and jammed down the guy’s throat, he is perfectly capable of telling Jack to let him go on his own.
Even if you’re going to argue he sounds a bit too formal there, a halfway competent person would be deliberately trying to sound similar to Jeanine’s words at this point to avoid making it obvious they were just repeating stuff earlier. And Max is halfway competent to have pulled off the zombie coup.
It would be totally possible for Tris to still be pretty sure Max is repeating Jeanine’s words, but there should be a moment of hesitation followed by Tris explaining why – a delay in the words or how he looked like he was about to say something else for a second there, the fact Max is more likely to punch left to his own devices, even just saying that while Max should try to mimic Jeanine here, she doesn’t think he’d pull it off in a heated moment when startled.
That’s what she should be doing if she’s got the slightest skill as Erudite, let alone being supposedly just as qualified for it as Dauntless.
Anyway, she does manage to quickly scope out the area and guess where Jeanine must be. She starts to climb down and the group follows her, except Lynn, who’s distracted with her own plan of climbing up and shooting Max.
Max gasps, his hand clapping over his chest, and stumbles back. When he pulls his hand away, it is dark with blood.
Since when do Dauntless shoot people in the chest? For shame, Lynn. The one time a headshot would actually make sense. We’d damn well better not go back to constant headshots in the middle of a firefight from here if she can’t even manage it when taking someone by surprise and actually having the ability to aim.
We’re informed Jack is saved by a Dauntless. Bad move, friend. If he died, you could claim they shot first and get Candor on your side, especially since he was your biggest opponent anyway.
Anyway, Tris’ group has other considerations, sadly. She manages to get to a group that includes Jeanine, an unknown Dauntless, and Peter. Just shoot him.
“You traitor,” I say to Peter. “I knew it. I knew it.”
Just shoot him.
A scream pierces the air. It is anguished and female.
Just shoot him.
“Sounds like your friends need you,” Peter says with the flash of a smile—or bared teeth, I can’t tell.
Just shoot him.
He keeps his gun steady. “So you have a choice. You can let us go, and help them, or you can die trying to follow us.”
Just shoot him.
I almost scream. We both know what I’m going to do.
Tris, you don’t have a gun, we know you can’t stop this. It’s not your fault.
Tobias, you do have a fucking gun, just shoot him.
“I hope you die,” I say.
JUST SHOOT HIM
I back up into Tobias, who backs up with me, until we reach the end of the alley, and then turn and run.
JUST FUCKING SHOOT HIM