Tris, Christina and Cara are prisoners in a cell in Erudite headquarters. They’ve been trapped for days, with nothing to do but ponder the information that Tris and Marcus had risked their lives to broadcast to the entire city. It was a message from a woman – Edith Prior – who must have been one of Tris’s ancestors. In it, Edith told the inhabitants of the city that they were part of an experiment being conducted to battle the terrible wrongs of human nature. They had been cut off from the rest of the world, waiting for a time when enough Divergent people in the city would emerge. Only then would Amity be told by the governing body to tear down the walls and end the city’s isolation.
Tobias comes to visit Tris and her friends, telling his mother Evelyn that he is only coming to break things off with Tris. He tells them that Evelyn has the city under lock-down, insisting that there is no need to leave the city to help whoever started this experiment in the first place. She plans to fix the city herself, where she can remain in control. Tobias tells Tris that she will have to lie under the truth serum in order to exonerate herself, Christina and Cara, else they will likely be executed.
Under truth serum, Tris lies to Evelyn, saying that she had thought Marcus had been “working under Dauntless-factionless orders” to uncover the truth (12). She lied that she had believed these orders came from Evelyn, that she wasn’t a traitor. Evelyn believes her front, which includes an insult to Evelyn’s power-hungry, selfish tactics. Once released, she sees that all of the factions had been ordered to mix together both in dwellings and in clothing.
Tobias meets with his mother, Evelyn, in her office. She seems to be questioning his loyalty, despite him having broken things off with Tris. He tells her he is afraid of what is outside the city, which is only part of the truth (as he wants to leave the city). Evelyn tells him about the Allegiant – a rebel organization said to be “allied with the original cause of our [the] city” (20). The Allegiant believe in leaving the city and in maintaining the faction system. Tobias tells her he will find the Allegiant.
Tris and Tobias go on a secret date, where they climb a huge metal structure in Millennium Park. They talk about trust and respect – how Tris has lied to Tobias over and over again and how Tobias has so often treated Tris like a child, scolding and condescending her. The two make up and relish in each other’s presence, a short break of normalcy.
Evelyn and her factionless army put on a terrible demonstration for the rest of the city in which the huge bowls from the Choosing Ceremony are upturned, emptied and destroyed in the middle of Erudite headquarters. A crowd forms and chaos ensues. Edward, a close companion of Evelyn’s, is killed by gunshot, and the carnage goes beyond his death. Tris and Tobias’ gazes meet after witnessing this demonstration, and they say to each other “‘We have to go’” (38). They have to get out of this city to see what’s truly outside its limits for themselves.
Evelyn makes an announcement about new rules for her new society – a strict curfew, armed guards in the street, and every city member learning the jobs of the factionless so that they all may contribute equally to the city’s success. While roaming the hallways of Erudite headquarters, Tris is ambushed by a group of the Allegiant, who put a sack over her head to hide their identities. She is told to meet them at “the place where you made your confession” the following night at midnight, which can only be Candor headquarters, the Merciless Mart (50).
Tris, Uriah and Christina meet Tobias and Zeke at Candor headquarters for the meeting with the Allegiant. They find many familiar faces – including the leaders of the rebel group, Johanna Reyes (former Amity representative) and Cara. They are told that the assembled people all have one thing in common: that “you don’t trust Evelyn Johnson to determine the fate of this city” (61). A plan is being put in action to a) overthrow Evelyn and reinstate the faction system and b) send a portion of their number outside of the city limits. Tris and her friends, of course, will head the effort to leave the city the following night. As all of this happens, Tris cannot help but think of her brother, Caleb, a known lackey of the late Erudite leader, Jeanine Matthews. His trial has just occurred, and he is to be executed shortly. Despite her mixed feelings and lack of trust toward her brother, Tris does not want him to die. Tobias promises her that he will break Caleb out before his execution.
In this section of the novel, the reader is first exposed to its dual-narrator style. Tris and Tobias alternate as narrator by chapter, as opposed to the former books in the Divergent series, in which only Tris narrated. This shift in point of view serves to develop and emphasize the relationship between Tris and Tobias. From the beginning, the two have a lot of issues to work through, notably Tris’s countless lies to Tobias in the past and Tobias’s condescending attitude toward her. Having the ability to hear the thoughts of both characters, instead of just Tris’s, allows the reader to understand the nuances of this important relationship better than ever before. Tobias and Tris are together as one, both narrating this story.
The setting of this first part of the novel is the former Erudite compound, which has now become the factionless headquarters. Tris goes from a captive in this compound to a freed citizen once she proves her innocence. Perhaps understated here are the terrible memories that Tris has of this place. She was tortured and nearly killed by Jeanine Matthews in the very place that she now finds herself trapped. This fact, coupled with the demonstration with the bowls of the Choosing Ceremony that leads to Edward’s death, serves perfectly as impetus for why Tris want to leave the city. Not only is she terrorized by the memories that this place contains for her, but she must watch as Evelyn rules it as a dictator.
The Allegiant serve as a beacon of hope for the people in the city that don’t agree with Evelyn’s tyrannical hold on the city. Many believe that the faction system is the only way for the city to function properly, and they hate the chaos and unrest that was caused by the overthrow of the faction system. It’s interesting, because Tris and Tobias don’t really know what to make of the situation. They never truly loved the faction system, as they never truly fit into one of the factions as many people did. But they also agree that Evelyn’s style of governance cannot be good for the city. This uncertainty as to their stance toward the faction system helps to explain why they so readily leave the city.
The major conflict seen in this section occurs during the demonstration with the Choosing Bowls. Evelyn lies to Tobias about it, saying that she had no idea that it was going to occur. He knows, however, that she and the factionless planned the demonstration. The demonstration is symbolic of the chaos in the city. The faction system has been overthrown, and in its wake the city finds itself in chaos, barely managing to stay on its feet. Evelyn may think that she has control of the situation, but she really doesn’t. This is clear in the demonstration, as Edward, one of her close friends and companions, is killed during it. The city is far from peaceful at the start of the novel.
The mood of this section is quite bleak. Tris and her friends go from being prisoners to roaming factionless headquarters, waiting to do something. The factionless demonstration only heightens this bleak mood, as does the manner in which Tris is told about the Allegiant meeting. She is cornered in a far-off hallway in the Erudite compound, with a sack thrown over her head. This bleak mood sets the characters in the story up to accept the offer of the Allegiant – to leave the city and find out the truth about what is outside. If they were to stay in the city, they would only be witness to more unrest and destruction.