The simulations scenarios, induced by the Erudite’s serum, are times when reality and illusions blur in Divergent. Produced by the mind, these simulations are incredibly lifelike and realistic. By keeping her style and prose the same both in and out of the simulations, Roth illustrates how difficult is it to tell the difference between real life and the simulations. She describes the events that happen in the simulations the same way she uses action verbs and figurative language to craft actual fight scenes. The fact that the actual characters themselves, save for Divergents like Tris and Four, cannot realize when they are in a simulation, further disrupts the line between reality and illusion.
Roth crafts her fight scenes using a combination of action verbs, figures of speech, and sensory imagery. Tris’s sparring match with Peter is a perfect example of Roth’s technique. Peter “darts” around Tris and “forces” the air from her body with his kicks and punches. Tris’s pain is described with similes such as “less like a stab and more like a cackle” (Roth 191). Finally, Roth draws on not only touch and sight when describing the practice fight between Tris and Peter, but also on hearing. The sound of Peter’s laughter when Tris finally manages to land a blow on his body is almost as painful as his roundhouse kick to her ribs. All of this, coupled with the fight being described from a first-person point of view, makes it possible for the reader to experience the scene as if they are Tris.
The last technique in Roth’s arsenal when she writes fight scenes is how she uses depth perception and consciousness. As Peter batters Tris, the room “dips and sways” (Roth 190). Because of the pain of Peter’s attacks, Tris cannot focus, and so the room begins to spin. She tries to walk and steady herself but the blows to her head have affected her depth perception, making her easy pickings for Peter. Before long, the pain from the strikes becomes too much, and Tris’s hold on consciousness begins to slip. Her vision starts to go black at the edges while at the center it is spotted blue, green, red, etc. (Roth 191). Peter kicks her as she collapses on the ground, causing her to black out completely. This gradual progression from consciousness to unconsciousness serves as a catalogue of the pain and violence Tris is able to withstand before her body gives out.
The City Zip-line
Tris’s flight over the city is an adrenaline pumping joy ride. The defining feature of the zip-line experience is the weightlessness and freedom Tris feels as she glides above Chicago. Roth uses phrases like “without substance, without weight” to convey how unburdened, both physically and emotionally, Tris feels during the ride. Other words and phrases like “exhilaration," “my heart beats so hard it hurts," and “I am pure adrenaline” help to relate the feelings and emotions coursing through Tris during the zip-line ride (Roth 363). Finally, the awesome power of the wind as it whips around Tris and steals her breath, constrains her body, and stops her screams further illustrates the scene.
During her kidnapping Tris is blindfolded and prevented from touching her captors. Her helplessness and horror during the kidnapping are heightened by the removal of her sight and ability to feel. This makes the scene taut with danger and suspense, as Tris and the reader are dependent on only 2 senses. Tris uses the sensory details available to her, like the clear, high-pitch sound of Peter’s voice and the distinct lemongrass and sage smell of Al’s fingers, to identify her would-be murderers. This scene is a prime example of how powerful imagery does not always have to be about the visuals.
Divergent Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Divergent is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.