Last time, Tris is now back with the factionless/Dauntless coalition and reminds us that Evelyn is super evil because she’s both a woman and a rebel, the two worstest things, and then she must betray her boyfriend and save data at Marcus’ order because he’s only kind of evil!
Christina and Tris are dressing up as Amity, which apparently means By the time we leave, I have red lips and curled eyelashes, and I’m wearing a bright red dress. And there’s a knife strapped to the inside of my knee. This all makes perfect sense.
Well. Uh. It all makes roughly the same amount of sense, at least.
They’re going to meet Marcus.
All the others should be eating dinner now—I made sure of that—but in case we run into someone, we wear black jackets to conceal most of our Amity clothing.
So to be less conspicuous, they put clearly Dauntless jackets over their head to toe Amity clothes, so now their upper half is black and lower half is bright red or yellow respectively and also they look like they’re trying to hide.
As soon as I point this out, Peter pops up to ask what the fuck ladies. Christina’s all dammit you were supposed to be eating with the attack groups, but Peter isn’t with one and why are you even upset about this when for all you know he’d just turn on everyone yet again.
We learn the plan appears to be to go with Marcus past the fence and then directly oppose the Dauntless/factionless alliance somehow. Tris admits that even with her brain switched back to off she can tell this is stupid. Christina says it’s the only idea they have to get ~the truth~ out there. Seriously, just tell everyone the Erudite have secret knowledge of outside the fence and you think everybody ought to know. That’s obviously not what Evelyn was talking about when she wanted to destroy Erudite data, and if it was, well, that’s all the more reason to publicize this now and prevent her from doing it.
I was worried she wouldn’t want to come with me, but I forgot where Christina came from: Candor, where the pursuit of truth is more important than anything else.
This line here is the best argument for skipping the Candor section I can imagine. It’s better to show than to tell, but if you’re going to end up showing the exact opposite of what you meant, maybe you should stick to telling.
Marcus is waiting with a crappy truck.
I pull the door shut and look for a seat belt to buckle. I find only the frayed end of a seat belt and a broken buckle.
Can I just pause to say I doubt they’d have any need for seat belts? It doesn’t seem like any cars travel at high speeds, and they primarily travel by buses which don’t have seat belts. They might still have them on cars because it’s what you do, but there’s no reason to care about it. And we know the only people to actually travel distances on relatively intact roads, the Amity, don’t even worry about having seats or doors and just have everyone pile into the back of the truck.
“Where did you find this piece of junk?” says Christina.
“I stole it from the factionless. They fix them up.
It’s unclear if he means this literally. Also, my, the factionless sure are busy and the other factions sure don’t seem to grasp concepts like recycling. We know there are few cars in the previous book and that a major part of the Erudite platform is increasing that number, but the factionless manage to get enough car husks that “they fix them up” as a general rule?
From what I remember, it takes about an hour to drive from the Abnegation sector to Amity headquarters, and the trip requires a skilled driver. Marcus pulls onto one of the main thoroughfares and pushes his foot into the gas pedal. We lurch forward, narrowly avoiding a gaping hole in the road. I grab the dashboard to steady myself.
“Relax, Beatrice,” says Marcus. “I’ve driven a car before.”
“I’ve done a lot of things before, but that doesn’t mean I’m any good at them!”
Marcus smiles and jerks the truck to the left so that we don’t hit a fallen stoplight.
The state of the city seems to make less and less sense. We know they don’t maintain the whole thing, but the Abnegation-Amity route should be well used because Abnegation have to go out to harvest the crops, right? If they were going some roundabout route through the dead majority of the city instead, well, Tris did establish there’s lots of dangling stoplights and stuff and if they can barely keep the main roads functional obviously the others will be worse off. But no, they’re going from Abnegation to Amity.
Maybe they only go at certain times of year and the road is left to fall apart in the meantime? But it’s the end of harvest season, so it should’ve just been cleared.
Turns out the blue Dauntless are back at their pointless fence-guarding that might actually have a point because maybe Cthulhu’s out there.
He shines a flashlight at Marcus first, then Christina, then me. I squint into the beam, and force a smile at the man like I don’t mind bright lights in the eyes and guns pointed at my head in the slightest.
The Amity must be deranged if this is how they really think.
I thought it was made pretty clear Amity is all about acting PERKYNICE in the face of trouble, not that they’re inherently PERKYNICE given how fast they come down on you for being disruptive.
“So tell me,” the man says. “What’s an Abnegation member doing in a truck with two Amity?”
WHAT THE FUCK WHY ISN’T HE IN AMITY COLORS WHAT IS THE POINT THEN EVEN.
“These two girls volunteered to bring provisions to the city,” Marcus says, “and I volunteered to escort them so that they would be safe.”
Right, I forgot we’re still careening through alternate universes. Clearly in this version, the Erudite have killed no one and after Tris stopped the simulation, Erudite didn’t make any further overt moves, preferring to bide their time. Maybe they’re making it all about the divergent. If they showed up at Amity originally looking for divergent with no deaths attributed to them, it makes more sense Amity would let them in, and they could even claim the divergent were behind the Abnegation attack if they liked.
Well, by some method, clearly Abnegation remains basically the same, just on shakier ground. It looks like there’s some shadow conflict, or maybe it’s been sold as Dauntless vs Dauntless, because Marcus suggests here that the city itself is unsafe to two Amity yet that an Abnegation’s presence would help with that.
(…though I have a sinking feeling that the author only thought about it as far as two girls needing an adult man as an escort for nebulous safety. Despite the fact that Tris claimed there was no crime.)
Christina babbles cheerfully to annoy the blue Dauntless into waving them along and also suggests an alternate and superior excuse than “escort” by claiming she can’t drive a car. It also suggests driving age is significantly lower because she’s sixteen yet says her dad was teaching her “years ago” before giving up completely. This paints a very different picture of the “Candor boys” who want cars Tris has mentioned. Maybe Abnegation is restricting cars to prevent eight year old drivers. We’ve seen Abnegation believes in never explaining their decisions, so it doesn’t matter that opposing eight year old drivers is perfectly reasonable, they’ll just refuse to let anyone have cars and let the problem sort itself out that way.
“Right,” the man says. “And do you intend to return to the city?”
“Not anytime soon,” Marcus says.
That would be the Abnegation guy saying he’s planning on not coming back to the area you control, and also why the fuck have a fence even if you’re going to let someone like that through when he flat-out says he’s planning on staying away?
Marcus is an idiot, though, and doesn’t even realize Christina’s babble was for a point, so I guess telling the guard that is just normal.
Also, ecology details!
The truck’s headlights catch tire tracks and prairie grass and insects weaving back and forth. In the darkness to my right I see fireflies lighting up to a rhythm that is like a heartbeat.
I think this may be the first mention of insect life at all. Well, fireflies aren’t one of those super-hardy species, so it’s a good sign they’er still around.
Tris says Christina is a genius for her babble.
“Except,” says Marcus, “Joshua is not an Abnegation name.”
“Whatever. As if anyone knows the difference.”
I guess we’ve just dipped into an alternate where the factions have existed for thousands of years to develop their own naming patterns, and you get renamed upon choosing your faction, so the factions have set nams, and also where the factions never interact with each other so other factions wouldn’t be immediately familiar with what the right names for a faction are.
They reach Amity.
Again I remember my mother stretching to pick an apple in this orchard, years ago when we came to help the Amity with the harvest.
So I think this confirms that the crop is rotting because harvesting is hard work so the Amity don’t bother and just make Abnegation do it, but Abnegation was too busy being murdered so they were just like whatever I don’t wanna and then the apples rotted.
Tris then notices the car is hotwired, which doesn’t actually say anything about if he stole the car or not because couldn’t it just be that the factionless stole it via hotwiring but Tris is sure he did it and is all amazed.
“My father taught me a lot about mechanics and computers,” he says. “Knowledge that I passed to my own son. You didn’t think he figured it all out on his own, did you?”
It seems really unlikely Tobias would work in the computer area in that case.
Christina asks if the Amity know about the beyond the fence business.
“They know about as much as the Dauntless patrols,” says Marcus. “Which is that the outside world is unknown and potentially dangerous.”
You’re never going to actually say anything useful, are you.
“How do you know what they know?” I say.
“Because that’s what we told them,” he says, and he walks toward the greenhouse.
I exchange a look with Christina. Then we jog to catch up to him.
“What does that mean?”
“When you are entrusted with all the information, you have to decide how much other people should know,” says Marcus. “The Abnegation leaders told them what we had to tell them.
So no, you’re not going to say anything useful. Why aren’t you dead yet? I could work all this stuff out without being told.
They find Johanna, and Marcus introduces Christina as “Candor-born Dauntless.” which is weird because faction before blood faction before blood faction before blood. It might be that he’s just trying to mess with Johanna’s own feelings on the matter by making her feel responsible for what happens to Christina, but I’d think that’d just backfire because X-born is just considered super rude to make a thing about and to be breaking that taboo makes it obvious you’re trying to make a point.
It seems so strange, that two people born in Candor could end up in such different places: Dauntless, and Amity.
Not really? Because that’s kind of the whole thing with the choosing ceremony.
I’d say that maybe the kids’ viewpoints are skewed because the adults apparently don’t talk about where they came from, except that they still see the choosing ceremonies and the new initiates.
On top of that, while you could say that in general, Dauntless is close to Candor because honesty and bravery seem connected, while Amity seems to completely oppose Candor, in practice Christina’s stated reason for jumping ship to Dauntless was to avoid the honesty initiation and be able to keep her feelings secret, which is totally compatable with Amity.
“Tell me, Marcus,” says Johanna. “Why have you come to visit?”
“I think Beatrice should handle that,” he says. “I am merely the transportation.”
She shifts her focus to me without question, but I can tell by the wary look in her eyes that she would rather talk to Marcus. She would deny it if I asked her, but I am almost certain Johanna Reyes hates me.
Well, that came out of left field and yet really, is it any surprise?
Tris can be friends with women in this – or girls, as I suspect the distinction involves. People around her age and of marked less importance in the plot are acceptable. Really, it’s pretty good compared to the lamentable standard. Adult women in power, though, that doesn’t seem in the cards. Johanna can’t just not have much of an opinion about this girl she barely knows. She can’t be conflicted about Tris who, on the one hand, saved many people, but on the other did it by harming other people. And despite apparently being judgmental enough to loathe Tris, she’s fine with Marcus, who at the least she knows is lying about why the attack happened.
I explain that the Dauntless have allied with the factionless, and they plan to destroy all of Erudite, leaving us without one of the two essential factions.
Wait, now that’s an issue to her? Must be, since if she’s trying to fish for an alternate excuse for Johanna, Johanna should know she’s lying and Tris must know she’d know because she just went on about how Johanna was originally Candor.
The whole essential faction seems like it’s some really important idea the author keeps fumbling. Maybe in this alternate’s Divergent, the book had a lot about how some factions do necessary things and the others are just there, and that’s why this whole concept has been just throwaway references as if it’s self-evident.
I mean, god knows there’s no other reason to think this. The only way Erudite are required for society is if either the population growth is uncontrollable and there’s no way to simply get more of necessary resources (ie, Amity’s farms can’t expand an inch further) or if everything is crumbling and they’re relying on Erudite’s constant innovations just to stay where they are (or worse, they’re already in a death spiral and Erudite’s essential service is to brake a bit).
Anyway, Johanna just wants to know what this has to do with Amity, because the peacefulness faction is apparently more Switzerland than human shield, and Tris says that she’s sure Johanna cares about the upcoming bloodbath. I guess that’s a point in the book’s favor – the important women may be evil, but Tris doesn’t seem to have any personal vendetta against them. Even Evelyn’s “look she’s evil!” comes off as broadly inexplicable narratively more than any personal obsession of Tris’, which is actually an impressive feat given this is first person. Jeanine is behind the murder of Tris’ family, and she’s largely mad at the women because Erudite suckzors.
“I also wanted to ask you if we can talk to the Erudite you’re keeping safe here,” I say. “I know they’re hidden, but I need access to them.”
“And what do you intend to do?” she says.
“Shoot them,” I say, rolling my eyes.
“That isn’t funny.”
Yeah, it’s not even a joke.
I think the author was intending for it to be a matter of it being a dumb question because whatever Tris wanted to do, obviously it wasn’t a harmful thing, thus sarcastically saying otherwise. But to anyone not privy to the inside of Tris’ head, there’s a lot of things that could be going on.
She may want to ask them questions.
She may mean to threaten them to gain their aid.
She may intend to sacrifice them to Erudite to get a compromise.
The defectors are in that really terrible intersection of no one wanting them alive and the most powerful group wanting them dead. If Tris did do anything to harm them, she knows there will be no repercussions because Amity has already made it clear they won’t even protect people let alone avenge them. At worst, she won’t be able to hang out at Amity again, and even then, Amity’s conflict-avoidance ideas may mean that since murder firmly ends any such conflict, they shouldn’t cause new conflict by complaining. It’s not precisely clear if their failure to support Tobias was because he wouldn’t admit to wanting any of it or if they’re actually Faction Victim Blame, but their forcing him toward his dad rather than keeping them separate suggests they don’t have the best priorities on the matter.
I walk outside as the sun peeks through the tree branches, and see a small group of Amity gathered near the orchard. I move closer to see what they are doing.
They stand in a circle, hands clasped. Half of them are in their early teens, and the other half are adults. The oldest one, a woman with braided gray hair, speaks.
“We believe in a God who gives peace and cherishes it,” she says. “So we give peace to each other, and cherish it.”
So it’s not harvesting. I believe we have not seen Amity harvest anything, and I don’t even recall it on the chore lists they gave Abnegation. It seems increasingly like Amity does not harvest their crops and makes Abnegation do it, and this system is so ingrained that when Abnegation showed up and had to work for their keep, none of them thought to keep a few for the standard Abnegation duties of harvesting apples even as they rotted in the field.
Also, seems like unlike Abnegation, Amity’s somewhat religiously unified – unclear on if everyone is, since all we see here are some, but it’s more than Tris’ experience of religion as being a solely private and personal affair of families.
Amity also has their own unique religious practice, of pairing off with everyone and meaningfully looking into each others’ eyes, and the book informs me that never mind, Abnegation has their own version apparently:
I am only familiar with the religion of my parents’ faction, which part of me still holds to and the other rejects as foolishness—the prayers before dinner, the weekly meetings, the acts of service, the poems about a selfless God.
Except we saw no meetings and it can’t possibly be acts of service when their whole faction is acts of service and plenty of them are atheists.
Unless maybe Tris’ dad meant different factions when he said people have different religious beliefs? But that’s no reason for the private and not-talking-about within Abnegation, and we’re explicitly told Abnegation behaves differently within their own and to outsiders so it’s not like they’d be quiet to not cause strife with Amity and then be unable to talk to each other about it.
Anyway, Tris is dragged in, but luckily she’s in the overwhelmed by how it’s something different, something mysterious mindset rather than feeling really awkward to be pulled into a faith thing she doesn’t share.
She approaches me first, clasping my hand. Her fingers are dry and rough and her eyes seek mine, persistent, though I feel strange meeting her gaze.
Once I do, the effect is immediate and peculiar. I stand still, and every part of me is still, like it weighs more than it used to, only the weight is not unpleasant. Her eyes are brown, the same shade throughout, and unmoving.
“May the peace of God be with you,” she says, her voice low, “even in the midst of trouble.”
“Why would it?” I say softly, so no one else can hear. “After all I’ve done …”
“It isn’t about you,” she says. “It is a gift. You cannot earn it, or it ceases to be a gift.”
This put my hackles up, and examining it, I think it’s “cannot”, especially following “it’s not about you”.
I’m not religious, which means a lot of my associations with religion are the troublesome bits, because the people just living their lives saying generally decent stuff doesn’t stand out half as much. Without original sin and believing people should try to improve themselves, I’ve never liked retoric about gifts and loved despite – it seems a lot like saying God wants us to be terrible so God can be smug about how great he is to like us anyway.
If it was “If you earned it, it wouldn’t be a gift” I wouldn’t have any problem here – I can get behind the idea of God the forgiving or infinitely compassionate. But saying you can’t earn it means you can’t ever be good yourself, and even that earning it wouldn’t be a good thing because it’d mean God can’t keep his whole gifting thing going. And tied with the bit about “not being about you”…then it’s not much of a gift at all, is it? There’s a lot of other ways to say this. “It isn’t about earning it. It’s a gift.” covers it fine, or even, if we have to focus on what she’s done as being an unworthy thing, “That’s why you need it the most.” I am quite in favor of “to each according to their needs” God.
And it has to be about her. Even the more negative flavors of God can at least claim they do it because they care about you. The only way a gift can not be about her is if God is doing this for his own purposes entirely.
This doesn’t seem like a god of peacefulness. It seems like a god of negging.
Oddly, if anything this kind of awfulness seems like it’d grow out of Abnegation’s insanity, since they seem like people to decide you should do nebulous “good” without it being about any of the people you’re helping, and it’d fit with the fact the faction seems to do such a scattered job.
But apparently this hits Tris hard, so she runs off, cowers alone and tries not to cry. Perhaps the narrative means for the words to be insightful. It seems more to me that Tris registers just how shitty this is but is too emotionally fragile to reject the message itself, and instead internalized the bit about how undeserving of grace she is and even if God gave her any it isn’t actually about her.
We then jump to the Amity meeting, where Tris is standing as much out of sight as she can manage in a presumably well-lit greenhouse.
Johanna repeats what Tris said re:omgincomingdeath.
Their battle will be waged not against the Erudite-Dauntless army but against Erudite innocents and the knowledge they have worked so hard to acquire.”
I feel sort of bad for hating some of this plot. Like the idea the Erudite are a necessary faction unlike the other losers, this seems like a totally good thing to consider, except it’s never considered, we’re just told HEY I HAVE SAID THIS THING CARE NOW.
What Erudite innocents? We had one indication they might have difficulty leaving, what’s-his-face saying he stayed to help them defect, and various indications to the contrary, like the part where Cara defects via saying “oh hey I am super loyal yes” and then taking off at the start of an attack to backstab them all because apparently doing a headcount is beyond these people.
Furthermore, headshot tendencies aside, the Dauntless don’t seem particularly bloodthirsty. The closest we’ve seen them come to attacking people who weren’t attacking them is the assassination of other what’s-his-face the faction leader. I want to say M-something, and I don’t care enough to look it up because like it fucking matters when this section may well be part of a book where the Dauntless faction leaders are pink ducks all named Suzy Q. But what I’m getting at here is if you don’t want to be shot, putting your hands up and/or getting on the floor seems like it’d probably get you not shot.
The factionless might behave differently, but given most are Dauntless (so their default should be Dauntless behavior) and a large proportion of factionless are former Erudite, if the factionless go for shooting everyone and letting Erudite god sort them out, Erudite must have been doing some absolutely horrifying things to the factionless this whole time to cause such hatred, and at that point we switch to the question “are there any Erudite innocents or do they all habitually torture people for kicks?” I mean, they did literally build a death trap for Tris complete with camera to get every second of her death. The best that can be said is we don’t have concrete proof they’re all into snuff films.
Anyway, Johanna makes her plea to the peace and love crowd:
“Our relationship with Erudite notwithstanding, we know better than any faction how essential their role in this society is,” she says. “They must be protected from needless slaughter, if not because they are human beings, then because we cannot survive without them.
Given the factions seem like they’re supposed to be corrupt, maybe that’s the whole point here of her plea being entirely based around their own personal wellbeing.
Also, death spiral barely held off by Erudite confirmed. They won’t even have a chance to try to rebuild Erudite, if Erudite stops their frantic race to keep this place functional it’s death for everybody immediately.
They’re probably already doomed given how much food was wasted while Amity didn’t bother harvesting.
Johanna’s proposal then actually is Plan Human Shield, although not really committing to it so much as just trying to generally lessen things by being there.
Come to think of it, they actually do have a way to not just curb but prevent violence – the happyhappy
daterapehappyjuce. There’s obviously questions of distribution and quantity that could stand in its way, but it’s got the capabilities to stop this thing in its tracks, so it should’ve been the first option they looked into. Tris comes to ask for a miracle (this would then give some connection to the otherwise random God scene) and Johanna says it’s impossible, and this is the most they can do.
(Also, a bit where Tris wants happyjuice weaponry, in the name of lessening the violence by giving her a way to take people down without lethal force, and the Amity say no because that’s still using it for violence and they don’t want to mess up their fine streak of sticking to the letter of the law while ignoring the spirit. Really, it’s easy to do and still make them sympathetic if there was more time spent on how what Erudite’s doing is just inconceivable to the other factions.)
Anyway, this time the discussion doesn’t go so well and turns into actually an argument. Tris gets freaked out by this, and somehow that makes her go into the crowd and decide now is the moment to chat with Erudite defectors. I feel like this says something about her mindset, but I’m not sure what yet – maybe it’s that she’s the sort of person who can only deal with their self-worth issues by seeing everything is going to hell already, so whatever sin she inevitably commits by trying at least won’t be getting in the way of something more useful.
“I came to tell Johanna what was going on,” I say. “And to ask you for help.”
“Me?” she says. “Why—”
“Not you,” I say. I try to forget what she said about my nose, but it’s hard. “All of you.
I miss the Tris who just didn’t think she was pretty and, when she saw Christina’s improvements, decided that striking and fierce were what she wanted anyway.
Failing that, I’d take the Tris who could care about the actual living people hurt by Will’s death over emoing about Will himself. It’s not like Divergent was great in its handling of the whole thing, but Tris’ focus on how Christina would be hurt by this was a thousand times better than how dare Will’s sister say mean things about her nose.
The Erudite are confused why she wants to save the data, because they, like everyone else, assume data = Erudite and Erudite = data, such that to kill one is to kill the other. This despite the fact that everyone also won’t shut up about how without Erudite they’re all gonna die and self-interest alone could motivate this.
“It is in keeping with your pattern of behavior,” says Cara. “Shooting people who get in your way is a Dauntless trait, after all.”
See, it makes no sense for this to be a stealth burn when Cara seems to have come to peace with her brother’s death and of all people should have a clear grasp of how few options there were. (And while blaming the person who pulled the trigger makes sense emotionally for Christina, Erudite seem like the sort of person to put the blame on the actual instigator, and surely the people who zombified her brother and then forced him to attack Tris in the first place are enough hate for one day.) But it makes no sense for it as a statement otherwise, because “save data”, as a goal, is totally unrelated to shooting people. Indeed, Tris will presumably accomplish the goal by shooting people who get in her way (unless she’s keeping her gun phobia, in which case she’ll do it but by knifing people instead).
It’s also weird given Cara says that they’ll totally help. Having her not refer to the whole murdering thing at all and go along with Tris without comment would serve to show Erudite behavior as distinct from other factions much better than having her speech be a stilted example of how idiots think smart people talk.
Meanwhile, Amity is divided and a majority don’t want to go.
It does not matter to me whether the Amity decide to go into the city or not. But I had begun to hope they were not all cowards, and to me, this decision sounds very much like cowardice.
What the fuck? You probably want me to feel bad for your shattered hopes or whatever, but I’m stuck on how even you could be so fucking stupid, Tris. It was obvious they were cowards since their first refusal to help you, their failing to even ask Erudite to stay out proved it wasn’t even partly motivated by their chosen virtue, and they then spent the rest of the book failing to do jack shit.
This is before even getting into the fact that “coward” should be the default assumption for all non-Dauntless, what with that being Dauntless’ hat. Other things you should not have expected from Amity include selflessness, honesty and intelligence, and indeed, they have lived down to those expectations marvelously.
Johanna sads at them about how she can’t agree.
Johanna tilts her head so that her scar is again visible, and adds, “I understand if this means I can’t be a part of Amity anymore.” She sniffs. “But please know that if I have to leave you, I leave you with love, rather than malice.”
Is this supposed to be manipulative or dramatic? I can’t even tell anymore.
Also confirmation that Amity always agreeing is a no true scotsman thing.
She walks out and some other Amity follow, and Tris and company are all WTF WTF and who cares they’re useless.
Even the full numbers of Amity there to be meat shields and distractions would only slow down Erudite a bit and probably slow down the factionless/Dauntless to a similar degree. A minority just mean they won’t have an impact at all.
Assuming the book isn’t being stupid and about to say that no a couple people standing around not participating will totally matter and the point is just the faction system breaking down, this is really nothing compared to the part where Johanna’s prime argument was screw the incalculable value of human life, Erudite puts food on their table.