Insurgent Ch22-23

SHAUNA LIES ON the ground, facedown, blood pooling on her shirt.
Lynn crouches at her side. Staring. Doing nothing.
“It’s my fault,” Lynn mumbles. “I shouldn’t have shot him. I shouldn’t have …”

Tobias verifies Shauna is not yet dead, which then makes me wonder what the fuck sort of training do they give these people that step one is Curl Up In Misery Ball And Blame Self and step ten or so is check to see if they’re actually dead or not.

No step is first aid, so despite the fact she has a bullet through the torso, they do not so much as put pressure on the wound and Tobias carries her over her shoulder rather than using their jackets to make some sort of stretcher for her, which I’m pretty sure is a better idea than throwing her over your shoulder. It’s not even faster because he’s carrying her alone so he’s moving really slow.

Lynn and Tris just watch for blue Dauntless. When Uriah shows up, then Tobias tells him to run off and bring help back, because apparently he couldn’t just send Tris off to do this.

Uriah, an Erudite man with a comb-over, and Cara meet us just inside the entrance. They set up a sheet for Shauna to lie on. Tobias lowers her onto it, and the doctor gets to work immediately, cutting the shirt away from Shauna’s back.

Huh, in this wobble of alternate universes, it seems either Erudite handles doctoring or else all factions likely have doctors – the lack of Candor doctor can be explained by Candor being unhappy with them.

I’m growing more and more fond of the idea they’re all somewhat self-sufficient. The faction ideologies are opposed and they’re each seeking a single truth as a solution. Their win state is to prove they’re right and that the evil in humans is opposed by their chosen virtue, not to live in peace with each other appreciating everyone’s differences.

Tobias and Tris resume their argument about wasting life.

if you senselessly risk your life again—”
“I am not senselessly risking my life. I am trying to make sacrifices, like my parents would have, like—”

Ah. Tobias does not pick up on the magnitude of this, but yeah, assuming this line goes with the other lines we’ve seen or an equivalent storyline, she learns early on from Marcus that her parents died for the secret and she’s gotten far more reckless since then. It’d have been better shown by having some sort of danger she avoided prior to learning this, because right now it doesn’t really play out any different than this just being Tris’ general behavior, but who knows, maybe in some of the alternates it did!

Tobias instead makes the mistake of trying to argue rationally – come to think of it, I don’t think he even knows about what she heard exactly, and he’s obviously just as much out of his depth here as she is.

“You are not your parents. You are a sixteen-year-old girl—”
I grit my teeth. “How dare you—”
“—who doesn’t understand that the value of a sacrifice lies in its necessity, not in throwing your life away! And if you do that again, you and I are done.”

So instead, we have him making this terrible argument. I would assume, given he’s only eighteen, he means in the sense of “you’re younger so there’s more lost in your death” but given how much the little girl thing’s been coming up, who knows if that’s what the author meant. He further fails to realize that Tris is entirely capable of believing all her stupid recklessness is completely necessary, in part because he never tries to talk about what she should have done instead. Like during the earlier blue Dauntless attack, she could have gone to any level. What was gained by going to the same one the blue Dauntless level? Then Tris would explain she was trying to rescue whoever the blue Dauntless were looking for and stop them, and Tobias could say she could have done that just as well or better by going to a higher level where she wouldn’t be hampered by having to act like the blue ones or looking over her shoulder constantly.

Tobias explains he’s breaking up with her just because he doesn’t want to deal with her bullshit:

He shakes his head. “No, I’m telling you a fact.” His lips are just a line. “If you throw yourself into danger for no reason again, you will have become nothing more than a Dauntless adrenaline junkie looking for a hit

Which is completely baffling. Tris’ behavior change happened after trauma and she’s just referenced her dead parents to justify it, and she’s still going into a tailspin if she tries to touch a gun – he saw her freeze up with a gun before, and he knows she’s had plenty of opportunities to get a gun, but this makes it sound like he thinks she’s just not taking a gun because it’s fun.

“I love Tris the Divergent, who makes decisions apart from faction loyalty, who isn’t some faction archetype. But the Tris who’s trying as hard as she can to destroy herself … I can’t love her.”

We appear to have gotten another mid-paragraph universe wobble, in which we’re shifting between “I don’t like you because you’re being a regular reckless Dauntless” and “I don’t like you because you’re actively trying to get yourself killed” unless they’re supposed to be one and the same despite us never seeing any Dauntless do that. They take dumb risks but Tris’ behavior is clearly anomalous and so it makes no sense for Tobias to frame this as being all about her being an ordinary Dauntless, which is pretty obviously a terrible direction to take this argument in for every other reason too.

Anyway, this whole section does make a degree of sense if we continue my PTSD theory that Dauntless don’t usually get it and don’t have any idea how it works because normally you cure it by going through a fear landscape. If we add to it that Dauntless are pretty used to loss, what with being assholes who throw Grandma into the factionless or just off a train, but not used to actual fighting, what with there being every sign there was no enemy before this, then they not only wouldn’t know how to deal with something like Tris, but wouldn’t even be able to recognize it.

Maybe that’s part of why Lynn just shut down. The fear landscape thing is supposed to numb them, but it can also give them an unrealistic expectation of how easy it is to get through something. The training to deal with fear is not actually to move through it, it’s just to throw yourself into it and it disappears or calm down and it disappears.

I want to scream. But not because I’m angry, because I’m afraid he’s right. My hands shake and I grab the hem of my shirt to steady them. He touches his forehead to mine and closes his eyes. “I believe you’re still in there,” he says against my mouth. “Come back.”
He kisses me lightly, and I am too shocked to stop him.

I really hope we wobble back out of this iteration.

She and Tori then talk, because Tris wants to call a Dauntless meeting. She also asks what Tori did. Tori was spying on Jeanine.

“I guess I can trust you, Divergent.” She looks at me from the corner of her eye. “She has a private laboratory on the top level. Insane security measures protecting it. I was trying to get up there when they figured out what I was.”
“You were trying to get up there,” I say. Her eyes flit away from mine.
“Not to spy, I take it.”
“I thought it would be more … expedient if Jeanine Matthews didn’t survive much longer.”

Tori in particular and the Dauntless as a group don’t strike me as people who’d prioritize surviving an assassination attempt. That means either Jeanine didn’t come out of that laboratory in Tori’s presense or that Tori wasn’t convinced she could manage a fatal shot – which, if it was confirmed, could tell us if the Erudite have better medical abilities than the rest.

Tris then informs us that Tori is clearly thirsting for blood and not justice “or even revenge” whatever this distinction is and she knows this because of her own trauma.

And even as it frightens me, I understand it.

The multiple universes all seem to be similarly pushing the idea Tris is really messed up, but it all seems rather tell and not show. The big problem is her gun phobia from murdering her friend, not her ability to recognize someone wants to kill someone else.

Anyway, the meeting!

I have no doubt that Jack Kang will agree to Jeanine’s demands. We aren’t safe here anymore.

I’m not sure if this is Tris resenting the Erudite so hard she’s being deliberately stupid or if this line belongs in one of the varients where the meeting did not involve Jack being pissed off by Max as Max explains they are disposable and live only at Erudite’s whim and also he is stupid and dumb and should shut up.

Tris recounts for the group the terms of “give us everything you knew we wanted and also some other stuff in return for nothing whatsoever” and they agree that yes, Jack’s inevitable agreement to the terms he has no reason to agree with would be bad.

“So where can we go?”
I think of the blood on Shauna’s shirt, and long for the Amity orchards, the sound of the wind in the leaves, the feeling of bark beneath my hands.

Tris is either both terrible AND stupid or this is a line that belongs with a version of the story where half of Abnegation was not murdered in those Amity orchards while fleeing, screaming, from the Erudite death squad.

Tobias, meanwhile, continues to have better claim to Erudite divergence by pointing out the obvious: you have an headquarters already and it is uncontested and also it is full of weapons and surveillance equipment and just why the fuck did you leave?

Someone assents with a shout, and someone else joins in. That is how things in Dauntless are decided: with nods and yells. In these moments we don’t seem like individuals anymore. We are all a part of the same mind.

But it’s freaky when Amity does it because they talk more quietly and that is weird.

“But before we do that,” says Bud, who once worked with Tori in the tattoo parlor and who now stands with his hand on the back of Tori’s chair, “we need to decide what to do about Eric. To let him stay here with the Erudite, or to execute him.”

Okay, first, Erudite? I’m working off an ebook, is there an error here? Is that supposed to be Candor? What the hell.

Second, the choice is between letting Candor give him back vs making sure he’s dead, and it’s kind of an obvious choice. Acting on their own might worsen their relationship with Candor, and in another book that might be relevant, but it’s clear that everyone is either good or evil and if they’re splitting with Candor, Jack is then 100% evil and also unilaterally controls everything. Even if relations with Candor mattered, it’s clear Dauntless don’t grasp long term consequences anyway.

Tori informs everyone that as they know, Bob, only Dauntless leaders are allowed execution rights and everyone else has to just murder by the dozens of available methods no seriously since when do Dauntless give a flying fuck about who’s doing the murdering we just learned earlier that they literally throw people off trains if they don’t leave on their own fast enough when they get old or sick, and we’ve known even longer than that that Dauntless do not investigate murders in general. I can only assume this is part of one of the varients where Divergent was about a less psychotic Dauntless as opposed to Murders McKillalot.

All five of our former leaders are Dauntless traitors,” says Tori. “So I think it’s time we pick new ones.

I don’t know why they didn’t do this before but I guess drama.

Naturally, Tori is immediately nominated because named characters. Then Tris. Then some guy called Harrison:

I recognize him—he’s the Dauntless man who called me “girl” when Zeke and Tori came back from Erudite headquarters.

So I’m assuming he either dies or becomes more evil and therefore immortal.

Then Four is nominated by Tori. You should really have a rule you can’t nominate if you’re nominated.

No one is calling him a coward anymore, not after he beat up Marcus in the cafeteria. I wonder how they would react if they knew how calculated that move was.

Well, I guess they might care that he was smart about it, but otherwise no, deliberately showing you’re not afraid of something should really not matter, especially when, if anything, the whole fear sim thing revolves around that.

That gives us four candidates for the five vacant seats.

Now he could get exactly what he intended to get. Unless I stand in his way.
“We only need three leaders,” Tori says. “We’ll have to vote.”

Fuck this fucking shit book.

Tris begins to explain why she has to step aside for ~her man~.

They would never have considered me if I had not stopped the attack simulation. And maybe they wouldn’t have considered me if I hadn’t stabbed Eric by those elevators, or put myself under that bridge. The more reckless I get, the more popular I am with the Dauntless.

No, the more you fucking accomplish.

I would absolutely believe that the Dauntless are just rewarding your recklessness if the book could bother to show real consequences for your actions. But the closest we got to a bad idea was the Eric bit, and they likely don’t realize your main plan was wander around in plain sight of the enemy hoping no one realized you weren’t one while trying to help out their targets. The Eric part was exactly what Dauntless should do, a risky personal action that was completely necessary in service of the greater cause.

And look, if the book wants hero-Tris, I am completely behind that! What I don’t like is this combination of Tris succeeding and then the book saying over and over again it was just reckless. It’s not sending a message about valuing your life, it’s just constantly tearing down her actual accomplishments.

Tobias looks at me. I can’t be popular with the Dauntless, because Tobias is right—I’m not Dauntless; I’m Divergent. I am whatever I choose to be.

And I can’t choose to be this. I have to stay separate from them.

What a very interesting idea of what “choice” means. It’s sort of like one that is totally divorced from the concept.

Let’s recall also that Tris has always been and remains entirely Dauntless, and even when the book is attempting to point out she’s divergent it always does it by having the Dauntless announce they are now completely incapable of any form of complex thought so Tris has to do it for them.

So she refuses.

And then, without argument and without ceremony, Tobias is elected to be a leader of Dauntless. And I am not.

You’re terrible and I hate you, although not nearly as much as the fuckery of “all five leaders are traitors, now to pick our leaders of which there can only be three”.

I mean, would it be that damn hard to just nominate six people?

Next chapter:

NOT TEN SECONDS after we choose our new leaders, something rings—one long pulse, two short ones.

Then Jack Kang’s voice speaks all around us. “Attention all occupants of Candor headquarters. A few hours ago I met with a representative of Jeanine Matthews. He reminded me that we Candor are in a weak position, dependent on Erudite for our survival, and told me that if I intend to keep my faction free, I will have to meet a few demands.”

He really didn’t say that doing this would keep your faction free or, really, anything.

“In order to comply with these demands, I ask that everyone make their way to the Gathering Place to report whether you have an implant or not,” he says. “The Erudite have also ordered all Divergent to be turned over to Erudite. I do not know for what purpose.”
He sounds listless. Defeated. Well, he is defeated, I think. Because he was too weak to fight back.
One thing Dauntless knows that Candor does not is how to fight even when fighting seems useless.

It’s not useless. You two are perfectly matched in relative power – Erudite presumably can modify their weapons, but there’s more Candor, and both have only half the Dauntless.

Anyway, at this point I increasingly don’t care what happens to Candor because apparently the truth and debate faction involves one guy telling you to do stuff because other people who keep murdering said to and refused to explain.

Either because social intelligence falls under the Erudite banner as well or because no one possesses it, the Dauntless do not realize the correct response is to charge in and tell the Candor that anyone who wants to live can come with them. Instead, they rush around getting their stuff and finding Eric, at which point the dumbfucks try to hold an actual trial instead of, again, doing anything to recruit from Candor now that it is clear their own faction is doomed and will kill and blah blah announce your crimes god everyone in this is so stupid.

Eric scans the crowd for a few seconds, and then his eyes settle on me. He laces his fingers and sets them—gingerly—on his stomach. “I’d like her to list them. Since she’s the one who stabbed me, clearly she is familiar with them.”

And somehow this is some great idea to needle Tobias because he doesn’t want Tris involved instead of Tris jumping at the chance to yell about what an evil guy he is, so Tobias is all rattled now, so then he insists, and because obviously you should do that the person you hate evidently really, really wants, only then does Tris do so.

“Do I deserve to die?” he says.
Tobias opens his mouth to interrupt. But I respond before he can. “Yes.”
“Fair enough.” His dark eyes are empty, like pits, like starless nights.
“But do you have the right to decide that, Beatrice Prior? Like you decided the fate of that other boy—what was his name? Will?”

So then Tris is all SO SAD AND TRAUMATIZED and meanwhile Tobias is attempting to bring this back on track by pointing out that they have laws clearly stating you get killed for doing the stuff he clearly did and also just agreed that he did.

And it just keeps going on like this and this may be the stupidest part of the book yet. I mean, it’s not the concentrated idiocy of Tris suddenly forgetting why Erudite kills divergents, but it just keeps fucking going.

Finally, Eric insists Tobias do it because he knows Tobias is afraid of shooting people, as in, one specific woman, therefore obviously this will wrack him with guilt and Tobias just shoots him thank fuck. I may ragequit the book if it turns out Tobias does end up feeling guilty.


  1. Eilonwy_has_an_aardvark says:
    Anyway, this whole section does make a degree of sense if we continue my PTSD theory that Dauntless don’t usually get it and don’t have any idea how it works because normally you cure it by going through a fear landscape. If we add to it that Dauntless are pretty used to loss, what with being assholes who throw Grandma into the factionless or just off a train, but not used to actual fighting, what with there being every sign there was no enemy before this, then they not only wouldn’t know how to deal with something like Tris, but wouldn’t even be able to recognize it.

    This would be a tremendous thing to explore. Let us SEE the Dauntless figure out something’s wrong and (partly) solve the problem by getting back to their fear simulations. (No, wait, only Tris is allowed to think, and she avoids it as evil. Oh, well.)

    Heck, since we’re doing the Grand Tour of factions, show us other factions deprived of their soma and having to struggle. That everything is so un-disrupted supports your headcanon that the factions are largely self-sufficient, despite the text telling the opposite.

    1. Farla says:
      show us other factions deprived of their soma and having to struggle

      Hey, what if Erudite was required to produce all the magic serums? So without them there’s no fear landscape, no happyjuice, no truth serum.

      That’s go a long way to explain why Candor and Amity won’t go against Erudite.

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