Tobias meets Nita to discuss what it means to be genetically damaged (or GD for short). Nita tells him that all of the support and maintenance staff in the compound are GDs, while all of the leaders and scientists are genetically pure (GPs). Disgusted, Tobias refuses to believe that his genes somehow limit him. It is then time for Marcus’s trial in the city. Evelyn finds him to be guilty of many traitorous acts, but he is given “the privilege of beginning again” (201). Instead of being executed, he will be sent outside the city limits, never allowed to return again. Tobias doesn’t know what to think of his father’s fate. In another of her mother’s journal entries, Tris reads that what David had told her was true. She volunteered to enter the city to stop the killing of the Divergent. She was to integrate into Dauntless and then choose Erudite at the Choosing Ceremony. However, her mother’s conscience and sympathy for the city-dwellers is clear – as she is worrisome that she won’t be smart enough to pass Erudite initiation. David says he can tamper with her results, but “it feels wrong to play with their system” (206). Tris then discovers that her mother and father had fallen in love before choosing Abnegation together (contrary to what David had wanted).
Tris reads the final entries in her mother’s journal. David is not pleased with her decision to join Abnegation instead of Erudite, and he seems almost jealous of her mother’s relationship with her father. The reports grow formal and terse. Tris then asks Zoe how her parents initially met. The lovers had had a class together, and her mother had volunteered to help out her father secretly, for he was having trouble. They met in secret until they joined Abnegation together and married. Zoe is pessimistic, though, telling Tris that “there’s no escaping the reach of genetic damage” (216). She believes that simply being surrounded by genetic damage leads people to act terribly – but Tris refuses to believe this. Later, back in the dormitory, Tris reluctantly tells Caleb about their mother’s journal. She gives it to him, and he shows her something he had found – the consent form that the initial participants in the Chicago experiment signed. The participants consented to forget everything by having their memories reset, to have at least two children, and to sign away their posterity’s rights. The siblings’ interaction ends with this – as Tris cannot possibly overlook all the wrong Caleb has committed.
Nita leaves Tobias a note to meet her late at night. He does so, not telling Tris, and she shows him a room in which all of the Chicago family trees are engraved in the walls – his entire history, all in one room. She then tells him that she is not okay with GDs being treated as lesser and expendable and asks him to come with her to see “what the world is like outside the compound” (235). Tobias agrees, and the pair leaves the compound, using an escape tunnel to reach a car that will take them to the fringe. Tobias sees the depravity and hopelessness of people in the fringe, who feel escaping society and the government’s influence entirely is a better option than living in cities. Nita tells him that GDs are more likely to be convicted of crimes, less likely to get good jobs, etc. She plans to change that, “by taking some of the Bureau’s power” (243). Then, Tobias meets two rebel organizers – Mary and Rafi. On the way back to the compound, Nita tells Tobias that the Bureau and the government have been lying for years. People were told that there was a “golden age” in which all was peaceful and everyone was GP, that genetic damage caused war and bad behavior (251). But Rafi has proof that this is a lie – proof that war existed even before the genetic manipulations. The Bureau works only through systematic deception and propaganda, seeking control.
The next day, Tobias tells Tris about his trip to the fringe with Nita, even though he promised Nita that he wouldn’t. Tris does not trust Nita – but whether it’s because of her usual gut instinct or because of jealousy, she’s not sure. Tris and Tobias go to meet Nita in order to see the proof she promised to have of the Bureau’s lives. They see photographs of war long before any genetic manipulation could have possibly occurred. Not being enough to convince Tris of the Bureau’s evil, Nita shows the pair that the Bureau is hurting people. She tells them that the Bureau was responsible for giving the attack simulation serum that led to the death of a huge proportion of the Abnegation to Jeanine. The very same serum could be found in the Bureau’s labs, and there is no reason why they should have it, unless it was engineered here. The Bureau’s only goal is to keep the experiments running – even if it means the loss of GD lives. When the Abnegation were going to release the information about the outside world to the entire city, the scientists had no choice but to introduce the simulation serum to stop this.
Nita finishes by telling Tris and Tobias about the Bureau’s ultimate weapon, the memory serum. She knows that the Bureau will use this serum to reboot the experiment, possibly in the near future, and her plan is to destroy the supply of the serum that is being kept in the Weapons Lab of the compound. Tris doesn’t believe that Nita is telling the truth; this cannot possibly be her entire plan, as it is such a small act. Tobias, nevertheless, agrees to help Nita. Tris, beside herself with confusion and anger over all this new information, lashes out at her brother when they cross paths, punching Caleb in the face.
Tris goes to talk to Matthew the next day. He tells her about an updated version of the memory serum – one that acts as a virus. It can be released into the air, able to reset the memory of every inhabitant in the city; no longer needing to be injected into each individual. Tris then learns that Matthew had been Nita’s GP informant, giving her access codes she needed in the past. He had stopped helping her after he realized exactly what they were planning to do. “No, they don’t want the memory serum,” he tells Tris, “they want the death serum…for assassinations, a lot of them” (281). Matthew agrees that GDs are mistreated, but he knows the solution is not to use the death serum on Bureau leaders. The two hurry away, hoping to warn David and put a stop to Nita’s plan. Far too late, Tris sees a huge explosion through one wall of the compound, blowing Uriah off his feet. She is beside herself, and chaos is everywhere. Uriah may be dead. Tris and Matthew run toward the Weapons Lab, where they find Nita and two others holding David at gunpoint.
Nita demands that David give her the passcode to let them into the Weapons Lab. He refuses, and Tris intervenes. She uses David as a shield, telling the rebels that she’ll shoot him in the head if they fire at her. She “doesn’t care if he lives or dies,” she only wants to make sure the rebels do not attain the death serum (290). David was shot twice during the entire ordeal, but help arrives, and Tris and David are whisked away to the hospital. Tris finds that Uriah is in his own room and that his condition is unknown. Christina tells her that Tobias was arrested for his part in Nita’s plan, disabling the alarm systems.
Knowing what she has to do, Tris goes to find Tobias, who is being held under guard until it is time for his questioning. She tells him quickly that she had been right about not trusting Nita, that the explosions had put Uriah into a coma, and that the doctors weren’t sure that he would ever wake up. Tobias had failed utterly in his promise to protect Zeke’s brother. Later, due to Tobias’s genetic deficiency and lack of knowledge as to the rebels’ master plan, he is released and put on parole.
Tris reads much of her mother’s journal in this section of the story. She misses her mother, finding solace in the Bureau because she knew that her mother once lived there. Puzzled by much of what she finds in the journal entries (most notably, her mother’s relationship with David), Tris wishes that she had someone who could answer all of her questions. Fortunately, Tris finds much of what she learns to be heart-warming. She realizes that her mother isn’t quite like David and the rest of the Bureau – she exhibits compassion and sympathy toward the experiment subjects, something that David never does. The part of the journal which Tris seems to appreciate more than anything, though, is its revelation that her parents fell in love before the Choosing Ceremony, deciding to choose Abnegation together (both defecting from their former factions). She may appreciate this because she knows that her parents were faction-transfers just as she was. Or she may find it heart-warming that her parents believed in true love, or that her mother rebelled against David and the Bureau to choose Abnegation with her father. Tris’s thoughts about her mother are complex, and they serve a critical role in the story.
The second major conflict occurs in this section of the story, when Nita and her group of revolutionary GDs enact their plan to break into the Weapons Lab. It is ironic that Tris was right about Nita, that she knew not to trust Nita. She is presented as the stereotypical jealous girlfriend, yet her gut instinct was correct – Nita had lied to them about her plan, not wanting to destroy memory serum, instead wanting to release death serum on the compound. The real tragedy, though, deals with Uriah. He is put into a coma from an explosion set off by Nita’s comrades. Tobias had previously promised Zeke that he would look after Uriah, yet Tobias played a role in this plot to break into the Weapons Lab.
Tobias’s guilt over his part in Uriah’s comatose state becomes a central part of the story in future sections. All of his friends insist that he cannot blame himself, that it wasn’t his fault. Yet he did play a role – he didn’t try to stop Nita from enacting her plan. His guilt can easily be justified and understood by the reader, because the only promise he made to his friends from inside the city was to protect Uriah. The thought of Uriah didn’t even cross his mind when he agreed to help Nita. He didn’t ask about explosives or the danger of her plan. He didn’t look out for the well being of his friends at all.
One could argue that Nita’s plan represents a mini-climax in the story. Before this, Tobias and Tris are still finding out the truth about the Bureau and the world outside their city. They do not enact any plans of their own, only listening and adapting to all that they learn. After this, though, the characters realize that something must be done about the Bureau. They know that the Bureau leaders will stop at nothing to keep the experiments from being shut down, they know how poorly the leaders think of GDs, and they realize that it will take drastic action to make noticeable change to this system. Nita’s plot transforms the story from a defensive/adaptive game into one of offense.
Nita only plays a significant role in this section of the story. She is a complex character – a GD who came from another of the city experiments. She is not happy with her place in society, knowing that her genes don’t limit her in the way that the Bureau seems to think they do. The reader has to wonder if her plot to release death serum on the Bureau is overly revolutionary. She is not clever; she only seeks a fix to the problem at hand. Though Tris and her friends come up with a more moderate approach to solving this problem at the end of the story, Nita is really attempting to do the same thing. The fact that Nita was deceitful in telling Tobias and Tris about the goal of her plot, and the fact that her plan results in Uriah’s near-death coma, paints Nita as the bad guy. But really, she is misunderstood. She acts out of necessity.