Divergent Irony

Abnegation (Dramatic Irony)

Because Abnegation values self-sacrifice and selflessness above all other virtues, they are trusted with the responsibility of running the Faction government. In sharp contrast in our own governments and societies politicians are known for their self-promotion and self-aggrandizement. For this reason it may seem ironic to modern readers of Divergent that the self-proclaimed “selfless” members of the Faction world are the politicians and runners of government.

Caleb’s Helpfulness (Situational Irony)

After Beatrice refuses to tell Caleb what happened during her aptitude test, the two part ways in a huff. Caleb goes to his room while Beatrice prepares dinner since it’s her turn. Before long Caleb comes back downstairs to help his sister cook, though he already had his “turn” to cook. Instead of being grateful for her brother’s helpfulness and selflessness, Beatrice is resentful. This is ironic because Caleb probably hoped to make up with Beatrice after their mini argument but his little act of charity had the opposite effect. One of Beatrice’s pet peeves about Caleb is “his natural goodness, his inborn selflessness” (Roth 57). Thus, by helping her Caleb just alienated her further.

The City Gate (Dramatic Irony)

When Four takes the Dauntless initiates on a field trip to the fence surrounding Chicago they visit the city gate. The gate is open because some Amity members are dropping off apples from the farms outside of the city. Once the Amity members have cleared the gateway, the Dauntless members close the gate and lock it from the outside. Only Tris notices this. She wonders to herself why they would lock it from the outside and not the inside. She muses, “It almost seems like they don’t want to keep something out; they want to keep us in” (Roth 219). Before the thought and its implications can fully crystallize in her mind she pushes it out of her head, saying it doesn’t make any sense. Tris’s unwillingness to consider the possibility that something nefarious may be happening in the Faction world is ironic in light of the events that follow—namely, the revolution of Erudite and the genocide of Abnegation. Only by reading the later books in the Divergent series can we learn if her subconscious suspicions about the true purpose of the city gate are fact or fiction.

Peter Talking About Fairness (Situational Irony)

After Four explains the fear landscape to the Dauntless initiates Peter complains about the unfairness of the test, saying that it isn't someone's fault if they happen to have many fears instead of just a few. As Four points out later on, it’s ironic for Peter to talk and complain about what’s fair, when he has used a slew of underhanded tactics to reach the top. For example, he stabs Edward in the eye while the other boy was sleeping and defenseless. He also orchestrated the assault and attempted murder of Tris because he felt threatened by her strength. Clearly, it is highly ironic for the character that is most guilty of cheating and backstabbing to start a discussion on fairness and parity.