"'People who get this kind of result are...' She looks over her shoulder like she expects someone to appear behind her. '...are called...Divergent.' She says the last word so quietly that I almost don't hear it, and her tense, worried look returns."
For the first time, Tris learns of the label that will follow her for the rest of her life: Divergent. The Divergent display aptitude for multiple factions - in Tris's case, Abnegation, Erudite, and Dauntless. At this moment, Tris is faced with the first major choice out of many she will have to make: which faction should she choose? To which virtue will she dedicate the rest of her life to cultivating? She also learns how dangerous it is to be Divergent. Though no one will risk telling her what it means, and what the consequences are, she will soon have a target on her back.
"A new place, a new name. I can be remade here. 'Tris,' I say firmly."
In this moment, not only does Tris adopt her new name, but she adopts a new self. By rejecting her plain Abnegation name, Tris shows her desire to move on and fully immerse herself in the new world she has chosen. if she had not taken a first step towards forsaking her old life, she undoubtedly would have had a much harder time fitting in with the Dauntless. In order to fully prepare herself, she has to completely differentiate herself from the person she was once told to be - and from the family that named her. This is yet another of her life-altering choices, a choice that changes her identity entirely.
"If conflict in Dauntless ends with only one person standing, I am unsure of what this part of initiation will do to me. Will I be Al, standing over a man's body, knowing I'm the one who put him on the ground, or will I be Will, lying in a helpless heap? And is it selfish of me to crave victory, or is it brave?"
The competition that the Dauntless transfer initiates face upon arrival in their new faction is quite unlike anything they've experienced before. Fighting enemies is hard enough, but in Dauntless, more likely than not you will end up fighting friends as well. When faced with her first fight in Dauntless, Tris immediately begins to struggle with her old identity versus her new one, Abnegation versus Dauntless. Does her desire to win represent the selfishness that Abnegation rejects, or the bravery that Dauntless prizes? This is one of the first instances of Tris's ongoing struggle to differentiate between faction values in Divergent.
"Then I realize what it is. It's him. Something about him makes me feel like I am about to fall. Or turn to liquid. Or burst into flames.”
One of Tris's first realizations that she is beginning to fall for Four occurs when the two climb to the top of the ferris wheel during the Dauntless tradition of capture the flag. Though she certainly doesn't intend to start a relationship with her initiation instructor, when Tris and Four are together, they bring out the best in each other: they make each other think and question the world in a way that no one else can. This moment on top of the ferris wheel in integral in the development of their relationship. Tris is learning to strategize like a true Dauntless, while Four is fighting his crippling fear of heights. Both are becoming something entirely new as they ascend, working together to lead their team to victory.
"'We believe in ordinary acts of bravery, in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another.'"
These words are written in the Dauntless manifesto; when Will reads them to Tris, she begins to realize how far many of the factions have begun to stray from their original aims. Dauntless was founded on this ideal vision of bravery, but has since deteriorated into a place where bravery is measured by how many fights you win and how few fears you have. She realizes that the same has occurred with Erudite; a thirst for knowledge has transformed into an unhealthy thirst for power. Is it possible to return the factions to their glory days, or is it already far too late?
"I think of climbing the stairs with the Abnegation, our feet finding the same rhythm, all of us the same. This isn't like that. We are not the same. But we are, somehow, one."
In this way, the distinction between Abnegation and Dauntless, Tris's old life and her new life, is most apparent. Tris has spent her childhood trying extremely hard to be just like everyone around her; to stand out in the crowd would go against everything Abnegation teaches - even if conformity crushes your spirit. But in Dauntless, you must be different to survive. You must rise to the top of the pack in fights, have your own personal fears and distinct ways of conquering them, and individualized tattoos and unusual haircuts are encouraged. In Dauntless, different is good, and it is in that way that the members of this faction are able to meld together and become one - in appreciating everyone's otherness. Abnegation is homogenous; Dauntless, however, is a diverse mixture of different people with different kinds of courage, which greatly appeals to Tris.
"'Becoming fearless isn't the point. That's impossible. It's learning how to control your fear, and how to be free from it, that's the point.'"
Spoken after Tris's first experience in her fear landscape, Four's quote illustrates exactly what Veronica Roth is trying to prove through her theme of fear: bravery does not mean complete fearlessness. It means learning to act in spite of your fear, learning not to let it control you. By constantly throwing their initiates into fear simulations, the Dauntless hope that they will learn how to think clearly and act wisely in spite of terror. Should they prove unable to do this, and instead let their fears cripple them each time, then they will not have accomplished what Dauntless initiation is meant to teach them.
"'I have a theory that selflessness and bravery aren't all that different.'"
The system of factions is meant to separate each virtue from all the others, so when Four insists to Tris that Abnegation and Dauntless are more alike than they're made out to be, it seemingly contradicts everything Tris has been taught. But it is true that the two qualities often go hand in hand; in an act of bravery, you forget yourself and your fears, just like Abnegation have been trained to forget themselves in favor of doing good unto others. This is small proof that the values of each faction can coexist inside one person; they need not be so separated as they are in this society.
"I feel like someone breathed new air into my lungs. I am not Abnegation. I am not Dauntless. I am Divergent."
At this moment, while all her peers are under the simulation that she is immune to, destroying the entire infrastructure of the factions, Tris finally accepts that she will never belong solely to one faction no matter how hard she tries. Since her Choosing Day, she dedicated so much of her time to becoming pure Dauntless, but she was never able to shake away the Abnegation that was innate within her. At last, at her mother's side just before she sacrifices herself, Tris accepts that being Divergent means that she does not fit in, and she never will - but it also means she can never be controlled, an invaluable characteristic in a world like hers.
"Eric called Al’s suicide brave, and he was wrong. My mother’s death was brave. I remember how calm she was, how determined. It isn’t just that she died for me; it is brave that she did it without announcing it, without hesitation, and without appearing to consider another option."
Some may believe Tris's mother's sacrifice was foolish; however, by comparing it to Al's suicide, Tris shows it is quite the opposite. The idea of suicide being considered an act of bravery has been much debated, but in truth, Al's suicide was for himself and himself alone. Though Tris has rightfully pondered over the fine line between bravery and selfishness, Al's death falls much further into the realm of the latter. In contrast, there was nothing selfish about Natalie Prior's sacrifice; she did it for Tris's sake, and was sure of herself the entire time. In her mother's purposeful sacrifice, Tris has at last seen a representation of real bravery.
Divergent Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Divergent is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
I twist my head around to find Caleb in the crowd of Erudite behind me. He stands among the other initiates, shaking hands with a faction transfer, a boy who was Candor. The easy smile he wears is an act of betrayal. My stomach...