Insurgent Ch38

what my mother told me when she saved me from the tank during the simulation attack. Something about having watched the trains since the attack started. I didn’t know what I would do when I found you. But it was always my intention to save you.

But when I go over the memory of her voice in my mind, it sounds different.
I didn’t know what I would do, when I found you. Meaning: I didn’t know how to save both you and the file. But it was always my intention to save you.
I shake my head. Is that how she said it, or am I manipulating my own memory because of what Marcus told me? There is no way to know.

What we do know is that for a brief moment we can know with certainty this is the same story as the one in Divergent. Those words, they are indeed the words her mom said, and Marcus agrees these events happened while offering further information about what he says was really going on.

Of course, it’s impossible to know how long it’ll last, so we can’t assume this holds true for any further lines. But it’s nice to know where we are for a minute.

All I can do is decide if I trust Marcus or not.
And while he has done cruel, evil things, our society is not divided into “good” and “bad.” Cruelty does not make a person dishonest, the same way bravery does not make a person kind. Marcus is not good or bad, but both.
Well, he is probably more bad than good.
But that doesn’t mean he’s lying.

Oh, Tris. You can’t do that. You’re a first person narrator, okay? You have to at least preface it with “I learned that in the days before factions, people thought in simple terms of good or evil, but…”

And the fact you now judge people on five different metrics doesn’t automatically make him both. That would require him to have a corresponding good score for each bad score.

Selflessness: He abused his wife and kid to the point they were driven out of the selflessness faction. Hard to picture someone doing worse.
Bravery: He came with Tris last book to assault Dauntless, but stayed in the back the whole time, displaying neither trait.
Kindness: He beats his family, he flunks Amity nearly as hard as Abnegation.
Intelligence: He’s manipulative, but hasn’t shown any other talents. No real trend in either direction.

So, he’s the embodiment of vice by two measures and lacks virtue in the other two. Most damningly, it’s his chosen virtue he does the very worst at, at least until we learn he was right to beat his wife because she’s so evil and he was just trying to beat the wife-inherited evil out of Tobias. This strongly suggests he is not going to be an exemplar of the one remaining virtue.

But we don’t need to guess, do we? If you normally judge people on each axis independently, that should only come up when saying the fact he’s so likable and supposedly selfless shouldn’t mean he should be trusted. Because you know damn well the man’s a liar. Honesty is the axis we’ve seen most.

Marcus presumably lied about his abuse of his wife for Abnegation to have let it happen. Marcus was then going to pull strings to ensure she was exiled, which at best seems counter to the spirit of honesty and justice and at worse would’ve been done by lying to convince people it was necessary. Then he lied about her being dead to his son and whatever other members of the community weren’t in on it. Then he abused his son and lied about it.

This book, he lied about not knowing why Abnegation was attacked, and when called on it as explicitly lying, said fine, but he wouldn’t explain. He’s proceeded to not explain several dozen times since then, and Candor has made it clear that refusing to speak is still considered to be dishonest in their eyes, because it’s hiding the truth. He also keeps belittling Tris, which seems like it’s done to get power over her – which means he’s saying she’s worthless and of no consequence precisely because he thinks the opposite.

And, of course, what he’s claiming now hinges on the idea Abnegation has been keeping a huge secret by lying to everyone else, and he’s still refusing to actually say what it is.


a hand falls on my right shoulder, sending prickles of pain down my right arm. I clench my teeth to keep from groaning.
“She got shot in that shoulder,” Tobias says without looking at the man behind me.
“My apologies.”

It’s pretty obvious that he did this on purpose. You can argue that this is not technically lying since he did not explicitly claim that he forgot before “apologizing” for something he did deliberately, but again, Candor’s actions make it clear they reject any of the “letter of the law” business.

So sure, the fact he beats his son doesn’t make him a liar, but the fact he’s a liar makes him a liar.

The question to ask here is why would he be lying about this in particular? Liars lie for reasons, and he probably wouldn’t tell you there was super important info just for the lulz, although he might be doing it to get you killed – see previous point about his belittling indicating he’s concerned by you.

But we can be relatively sure there’s something important there, because he’s trying to get you to get it and there’s no obvious alternate reason to say it. This is a situation where you have no idea what it actually is but that it’s important.

Personally, I’m thinking maybe there is super ultra secret info, but Marcus wants it hidden. Jeanine seems to be telling her own faction about the outside the fence business, while we know his counterpart Susan who stayed in Abnegation knows nothing but that the leaders were going to do something important.

What if the Abnegation did decide they couldn’t keep it a secret any longer…and Marcus was the one who went to Jeanine to get her to attack, to prevent it from coming out?

He said, The last time I trusted a faction representative with this information, all my friends were murdered. That means that Jeanine was the only one told and that he personally did it. The part where she spread it around to her faction may have been a surprise to him and why he’s going against her now. And he certainly won’t tell Tris anything at all she could use, which only makes sense if he doesn’t want people to know in the first place.

The only flaw in this is that the factionless’ official goal is to destroy all the data, but Evelyn, as Abnegation and his wife, presumably already knows the great secret. She may be intending to get her hands on it as well to disseminate, so he’s trying to get it first.

Even ignoring that, their goal being to destroy data doesn’t mean none of them could think to look at some of it first, especially when Evelyn’s focus was obviously on destroying complex programs like the simulations first and foremost. His framing of the situation is extremely suspect.

It doesn’t make sense to look at the situation and conclude the only way to save the data is to steal it first. It does, however, make sense to tell someone this if you’re worried about anyone else getting their hands on it.

Admittedly, there’s the problem of Tris just looking at it herself, but assuming she delivers it, he can just kill her. He’s made it clear he doesn’t like her. And he can be sure she’ll either deliver it or destroy it herself, because he’s kept emphasizing not that Abnegation was keeping it a secret but that they wanted to tell everybody – if she looks and agrees everyone should know, she’ll bring it to the Abnegation guy who kept saying Abnegation wanted to tell everyone (ignoring how he really hasn’t said anything about how he personally wants to tell everyone).

Anyway, speaking of attacks, Evelyn and Tori share the current plan. Tori explains they’re going to assume everyone left in Erudite is a supporter of Jeanine, then for some reason just stops and leaves the genocide implied, and Evelyn says they’re going to attack Erudite’s real source of power, their knowledge and ability to run simulations. The Dauntless cheer loudly and Tris helpfully informs us they are all rabid haters who want to kill everyone, an evil darkness she shares but knows is totally wrong, and that’s why she’ll presumably shoot Evelyn with arrows in the climax.

“I am sorry to tell you that those of you who were shot with simulation transmitters will have to remain here,” says Tori, “or you can be activated as a weapon of Erudite at any time.”
There are a few cries of protest, but no one seems all that surprised.

Really, Tris?

What’s surprising is that this even needed to be said, let alone that anyone’s groaning about it. What’s outright shocking is that there appear to be no other plans for protecting them – even if Erudite can only control them properly with the use of cameras, they could activate the simulation and order everyone to take out their gun and shoot themselves in the head (or take out their gun, fire five times in a circle, then shoot themselves, if too few people have guns to start with).

Then it’s time for a conspiracy theory resurgence, as Lynn and Uriah were both shot, but Uriah gets to go anyway.

“Divergent, remember?” he says. Lynn rolls her eyes, and he hurries on, probably to avoid hearing Lynn’s Divergent conspiracy theory again.

From Lynn’s point of view, divergence is like someone saying they can stop bullets with their mind, which is silly. But from Lynn’s point of view, this here is someone saying that they’re going to go deflect bullets right now. That’s not something you roll your eyes over.

If Lynn is right, Uriah will be taken over and kill some number of the others before they kill him to stop it.

The reason conspiracy theories usually are no big deal is because usually, no one is going into life or death situations, let alone ones that hinge on the conspiracy theory. Lynn now even has a good answer to the question of why people in charge would pretend this in the first place, since if she’s right, it means a lot of people think they’re protected and really aren’t.

“Anyway, I bet you no one checks, and what are the odds she’ll activate you, specifically, if she knows everyone else with simulation transmitters is staying behind?”

This appears to be Uriah still talking to Lynn, making the pronoun use here unnecessarily confusing. His argument also serves to apply to anyone else who wants to sneak in, which means Lynn should insist on coming along too, because “divergent” is the reason he just gave for why he gets to go and she doesn’t.

Finally, this is insane, because there’s still no sign she can’t activate everyone. Aside from the obvious fact she’s going to activate everyone and just order them to shoot wildly or whatever, as soon as they see the attackers on the camera, she activates everybody and anyone she sees stop dead is obviously someone she controls. Then order them to shoot everyone else.

Back to the plan:
“A single, large group will attempt to penetrate Erudite headquarters and work its way up through the building, cleansing it of Erudite’s influence. Several other, smaller groups will proceed immediately to the higher levels of the building to dispense with certain key Erudite officials.

Hm. On the one hand, I’m always suspicious of plans about how you have to murder the top level people. Assassination is a great way to minimize the casualties, but purges during an assault you expect to end in victory probably mean you’re evil. On the other, the Erudite are the knowledge people and we know so little about how they work that possibly a couple key people escaping could mean in a few days the simulations get reactivated and murder everyone else. On top of that, we know Erudite rankings directly tie to intellect and presumably to who’s running the experiments, and if IQ being the end-all of intellect was going to be subverted I’d expect a slight hint by now so I’m pretty sure we’re supposed to take it as given that the people in charge of managing Erudite are also the ones doing the lion’s share of the research and development. Erudite officials can probably cobble together a simulation broadcast from a paperclip and a few potatoes, unless no one can invent anything (still unclear).

On narrative grounds, I’m assuming we’re supposed to view this as evil because it’s full of euphemisms.

So, assuming anything is connected to anything else, which is admittedly a stretch as we bob across universes, this probably means Evelyn is throwing her hat into the secret files ring and the “key officials” is to murder anyone who knows. This contradicts my theory Marcus is trying to hide it himself but works fine if we assume Marcus was telling the truth about it being important, because Evelyn is set up as opposing him and given this book has had Tris but what about the mening all over the place, the real enemy being the battered wife seems increasingly likely.

The plan will happen in three days, because obviously your surprise attack is something you should keep delaying.

This will be dangerous and difficult. But the factionless are familiar with difficulty—”
At this the factionless cheer, and I am reminded that we, the Dauntless, are the same people who, just a few weeks ago, were criticizing Abnegation for giving the factionless food and other necessary items. How was that so easy to forget?

Who’s forgetting it? You specifically said the cheering people were the factionless, so what does Dauntless have to do with it? And you personally were always on Abnegation’s side with that, so it’s odd you’d be speaking in “we”, and you mostly interacted with other transfers whose complaints about Abnegation were the complaints of those factions, while your occasional non-faction interactions weren’t about that, so there’s no real sign Dauntless had issues.

In fact – not only do the Dauntless seem to have everything they want, but the major complaint about cars that Candor kept bringing up is irrelevant to Dauntless. During Tris’ stay, there were no shortages of anything and their economy was so flush with goods that cagefighting was a valid career choice. We were also given an alternate reason for the Dauntless to object to the factionless, namely that they were in charge of policing the factionless and Abnegation shut that down.

(How that interacts with most of the factionless being former Dauntless is still unclear.)

Evelyn’s expression is too empty for someone giving an impassioned speech. Her face looks like a mask.

I GET IT ALREADY. At this point I’ll be grateful if we avoid finding out that Evelyn was beating Marcus.

Tris observes how the the groups are now unified by their hatred of a common enemy but isn’t it weird how they’re united? Then Christina says something’s wrong.

“What do you mean?” Lynn says as the voices rise around us. “Don’t you remember what they did to us? Put our minds under a simulation and forced us to shoot people without even knowing it? Murdered every single Abnegation leader?”

Huh, so everyone but Marcus is dead? It’d have helped to establish that beforehand, book. What we see is that their goal was to kill the Abnegation leaders, then we see the only two leaders we know of rescued, then one dies in the HQ attack and the other lives and lives and lives and when will someone just shoot Marcus already? If Marcus is actually the last surviving Abnegation leader, or even one of the handful left, that’s a big deal.

“Yeah,” says Christina. “It’s just … Invading a faction’s headquarters and killing everyone, isn’t that what the Erudite just did to Abnegation?”

Killing key officials means you’re not killing everyone. If you were, you wouldn’t have the specify. Even assuming this is very badly written and she means “faction leaders” to be everyone, which is the parallel to what Erudite did, “key officials” is still more specific than “all officials” and indicates a lot more selectiveness.

I’m wondering if this is just a grabbag of every evil-sounding thing the author can think of – it’s wrong to kill specific targets to hide info, and it’s wrong to wipe out a group’s leadership, and it’s wrong to wipe out an entire group, therefore Evelyn is doing all three.

Lynn, being our maligned voice of reason, points out that self-defense is not morally equivalent to a first strike. She does not, but should, add that also they’re not turning a third neutral faction into zombies to accomplish it.

I have to wonder what Dauntless’ violence was ever supposed to be. Apparently it’s not to murder the dangerous before they can harm others, but if they had a strong tradition of apprehension and trials, they’d be insisting on capturing the Erudite officials alive. (Eric’s trial doesn’t tell us anything – what it boils down to is simply Dauntless polices its own, which we could guess just from the fact all factions seem to handle their crimes internally. The fact Candor seemed to have no idea what to do with him just further supports the idea that there’s no concept of real trials or prisons or set punishments. Factions deal with their members by kicking them out and/or murder.)

Anyway, Christina and Tris just feel it’s wrong, somehow, in a way they can’t articulate possibly because it is bullshit.

I sit on the bed and look out the window, where factionless and Dauntless are gathered around the fires, laughing and talking. But they aren’t mixed together; there is still an uneasy divide between them, factionless on one side and Dauntless on the other.

While the fact that previously the Erudite defectors, Candor, and Dauntless all sat separately was the normal sort of not mixing that didn’t require being pointed out as an ominous sign of ominousness.

Tobias comes up so she can talk more about how everything about this alliance is super ultra terrible, because the Dauntless were dicks to the factionless in the past. Depending on how long ago the Dauntless were moved to fence duty, most of those Dauntless may now be factionless, so it may matter less than it appears.

“It’s not a natural alliance, is it,” he says. “But we have the same goal.”

That’s what a natural alliance is.

But what happens when the goals change? The factionless want to get rid of factions, and the Dauntless don’t.”

Tris, just because you flip out every time she mentions factionless deserving equality doesn’t mean that she wants to murder everyone else. What she actually said was that her people wanted an equal share in the new government, and that’s probably what she meant as opposing the faction system as a whole. If nothing else, there’s no actual way of eliminating the factions. It’s not like you have a unified government ordering people into different camps, you guys pick factions which act independently and hate each other. Demanding the factionless be added to the five existing factions works fine, though. She might also want to allow people to move between factions instead of picking at sixteen and getting one shot, which wouldn’t destroy the factions themselves but would be getting rid of the current system of handling them.

Notice how both those things are positive? It’s because your system sucks and anyone opposing it is probably right. Hell, Erudite’s final solution had some things going for it over the existing plan of killing the factionless but doing it more painfully and incubating new plagues in the process. That’s how fucked up your system was, genocide now has points in its favor. Do you know how hard it is to accomplish that?

(The fact Abnegation belatedly decided to feed them just delays the inevitable. Without starvation, the factionless’ numbers will shoot up because the other factions are still dumping huge numbers of people into them. Then either Abnegation has to keep getting more and more food per month until everyone starves, because the factionless aren’t able to work to produce food themselves, or Abnegation caps the food they give and the factionless return to starving to death.)

Anyway, at this bit about the factionless hating the factions, Tobias gets an expression and Tris says he looks just like Marcus when Marcus was lying to Johanna so maybe he’s keeping a secret now! Since Tris also claimed that Tobias’ real faction is the factionless so he’s presumably on their side and not Dauntless, my guess is the factionless plan to turn on the Dauntless to destroy the faction system itself – and come to think of it, that really is all it’d take. The Dauntless continue to be the only faction capable of force. Eliminate them and the other factions will have to go along with you.

What he tells her is that they’re in the same group during the attack, which will be to the control rooms.

If I participate in the attack, I can’t go after the information Jeanine stole from Abnegation. I have to choose one or the other.

You don’t really. You’re assuming that because it’s not explicitly your goal you won’t find it, but you’ve got no idea where it is and control room seems as plausible as any. Plus, you could always split off halfway through. Or ask to be assigned to that group. You’re not a bad liar yourself, you could easily say that you know just enough that you’re really worried about it and think destroying it is vital. Since you keep reminding us Evelyn is evil and hates that you’re dating her son, she’d probably be happy to shift you into a different group.

Instead, she lies by saying that she can’t go, since she still can’t use a gun and she had a change of heart about suicide after almost dying. Tobias says he understands and she’s so great and sure she should stay and get her head together and she feels like shit.

He thinks I will be here, but I will be working against him, working with the father he despises. This lie—this lie is the worst I have ever told. I will never be able to take it back.

Yes, but mostly, it’s because you didn’t need to tell it. Tobias has said he doesn’t trust his dad, but you’re got other sources. Susan confirms Abnegation was poised to do something, and your brother was babbling about something important beyond the fences. Tobias has already indicated he knows the fence thing is bullshit – he doesn’t serve there, he doesn’t think anything of serving there, and he knows the code to the fence because he thought he might one day need to get through – so even if he didn’t have any clear idea, he seems to have seen the same thing Tris did of it being to keep people in rather than out.

The specifics of what Marcus said may be nonsense woven around that, but we know Erudite seems to have rushed the attack given they’d almost cracked the divergent problem so it’s likely Abnegation was up to something, and what’s outside the fence is a big concern.

Hm, you know what would help a little here? If Tris had totally dismissed her brother’s talk about the fence as Erudite lies. She spent last book really into the idea Erudite were lying liars who lie when they don’t seem particularly dishonest, so it’d be an understandable thing here, and in that case, she’d only have Susan’s statement, which doesn’t add up to much of anything when it’s the only data point. Then it really does hinge on Marcus, and in that case, well, the fact it’s his escaped wife he’s saying needs to be opposed starts to look pretty relevant. Tobias would rightfully dismiss it.


  1. Eilonwy_has_an_aardvark says:
    Why do I think that at some past point, maybe during the visit to Amity, Tris knew that Marcus was widely liked because he was a liar? That realization alone should cover her understanding of how virtues and vices interact: by having a serious vice, he manages to get himself treated as virtuous (selfless and likable) without the trouble of cultivating those virtues.

    In that light, lying should be a major sin to more factions than Candor because it allows you to cover up lapses from your faction’s cardinal virtue. Erudite? Falsify the lab results! Dauntless? That wasn’t you who ran from the fight.

    It would be a more interesting history if some of these factions were the results of schisms. So Abnegation and Amity were once unified but had a huge split over whether singing and playing were consistent with a spiritual life, or whether being ascetic was essential. Candor and Erudite were once unified but split over some picayune quarrel about the human nature and reasoning, so both value knowledge and truth, but Erudite are all “scientific method!” and Candor are all “argue both sides of the issue and the more convincing wins!” Only Dauntless has remained the same and are proud of it, in their jock way.

    That would raise the question of why the factionless can’t just declare their own faction before demanding equal rights, but that question exists anyway. Since we were told at the beginning of the first book that they do most of the useful labor (an idea seemingly dropped, but let’s pretend that wasn’t retconned out of existence by the end of that book), they could be Diligence.

    None of that would work with what we’re being set up for in the third book, but I have no stake in preserving the third book.

    1. Farla says:
      In that light, lying should be a major sin to more factions than Candor because it allows you to cover up lapses from your faction’s cardinal virtue. Erudite? Falsify the lab results! Dauntless? That wasn’t you who ran from the fight.

      Well, that gets into the problem that a lot of the factions need all the virtues to function. Dauntless have to be selfless if you expect them to follow orders and risk their lives for a particular reason rather than just jumping off buildings and playing chicken on the traintracks. Candor have to be smart to figure out what the actual truth is. Etc.

      Only Dauntless has remained the same and are proud of it, in their jock way.

      Dauntless probably schisms all the time, it’s just instead of forming a new faction they fight to the death to see who’s better. Maybe current Dauntless is so overpopulated because the faction leaders have managed to keep things together for too long.

      The factionless… maybe they can’t because you can’t go to a new faction after failing initiation, but then there’s their kids, why can’t they form a new faction?

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