Divergent Summary and Analysis of Chapters 17-20


Chapter 17

Tris is having trouble coping with what happened to Edward when Uriah, one of the Dauntless-born initiates she met during capture the flag, invites her to participate in a Dauntless initiation ritual. Participation is not usually open to transfers, but Uriah insists the others won't notice she's there. After a little prying, Tris learns that Four won't be coming, and she deduces that if he isn't going to be there, it must have something to do with heights. They take the train to the empty Hancock building, and it turns out they'll be zip lining a hundred stories down from the top of the building.

Tris is partly afraid, but partly eager, and she struggles to wait until it's her turn. She gets strapped in by Zeke, Uriah's older brother, and Uriah remarks before she goes that she's Dauntless through and through. Tris takes off and flies through the air towards the ground, and when she reaches it she must fall into the arms of the other Dauntless, and trust them completely to catch her. She hollers with joy and is exhilarated when she lands, and the Dauntless decide they can't call her "Stiff" anymore.

Christina, Al, and Will are jealous when Tris comes back, but apparently Christina had been busy telling off an Erudite for trying to dig up opinions on the Abnegation leadership in order to bash it. Tris allows Will to tell her the entire story, but she isn't really listening; she's thinking about how this is the first time she's truly eager to be a full member of Dauntless, and how badly she needs to make it through initiation.

Chapter 18

It's time for the second stage of initiation, and the Dauntless-borns and transfers will now be training together. A Dauntless-born begins trying to get a rise out of Peter because he's ranked first of the transfers. Later, Tris's name is called and Four leads her to another room. She gets anxious when she sees a metal chair, the same type as in the aptitude test. She knows she's about to face a simulation.

Four explains that this stage is meant to bring truth to the term "face your fears", and it will teach the initiates how to control their emotions in frightening situations. When Tris asks Four if he's ever administered an aptitude test he denies it, saying he tries to avoid Stiffs as much as possible, but he won't explain any further. He injects her with the simulation serum, and her vision begins.

Tris finds herself in a field of dry grass, and a crow lands on her shoulder and begins attacking her. Then a flock swarms around her and she can't fight them off, and though she's terrified she tries to calm down because the simulation will continue until she finds a way to regulate her heart rate and breathing. Then all of the sudden it's over, and she's back in the metal chair, but she still isn't stable. Four says that if she's going to make it in Dauntless, she needs to learn how to think in the midst of fear. She thinks she's a failure, but Four informs her that she got out of the simulation three times faster than the other initiates did.

When Tris says she didn't know Dauntless initiation would be this difficult, Four replies that it wasn't always like this; new leadership, including Eric, meant new and much more competitive training methods. Tris deduces that since Eric was ranked second in his initiate class behind Four, Four was Dauntless's first choice in leadership; Eric was only offered his position when Four refused. Tris wants to ask why he didn't take the job, but she doesn't know how he'd respond to such a personal question.

Chapter 19

The Erudite have made another attack on Abnegation, this time at Mr. Prior himself, discussing how so many Abnegation children have left their childhood faction and what this must mean about their teachings. The article includes a direct quote from Molly, insinuating some kind of abuse between Tris and her father; this is Molly's revenge. Tris goes on a rampage, attacking her and Peter, but Will drags her away.

Tris accompanies Christina to get a tattoo of the Dauntless seal, and on the way sees Four standing by the Chasm with a group of people, clearly intoxicated. He calls out to her, saying "You look good, Tris." She makes him promise to stay away from the Chasm. Her friends seem to think something is brewing between her and their instructor, but she doesn't talk about it, especially since Al is around and the last thing she wants to do is make him feel worse.

Chapter 20

In Tris's next simulation, she finds herself in a glass tank that slowly begins to fill with water. Outside the tank, the other initiates are standing around her laughing. She tries to calm herself down and conserve as much air as possible, and when she shoves at the glass she is able to make it crack. She continues to do so until all the water pours out and she's back in the metal chair in the simulation room again.

Four asks how she managed to crack the glass, and realizes that since she was able to manipulate the simulation, she must be Divergent. He warns her that she better find a way to hide her Divergence in simulations. Tris heads right to the tattoo parlor to seek out Tori and ask what this means. Tori says that Divergent, particularly in Dauntless, have a tendency to die, but she adds that the Dauntless leaders don't know about Tris yet, so until that happens she'll be safe. Tris denies that they'd kill her, but Tori contradicts this with the story of her brother, who was Divergent and transferred from Erudite with her. When they found out what he was, they killed him and called it suicide.

Tris wonders how Four knows about Divergence, and whether or not he is one or has a family member who is. Eventually, though, she decides she can't let him distract her. She wonders why the Dauntless leaders care so much about her ability to manipulate the simulation, and Tori suggests Divergence might just be a symptom of something else, something they do care about.


The moment that Tris zip lines down the Hancock building is a pivotal point in the story; not only is she becoming Dauntless herself, but she's convincing other people that she is, too. Part of our identity is others' impressions of us, whether we like it or not; Tris could never truly become the person she's chosen to be with the rest of the faction looking down on her for being a Stiff. If Tris is ever going to be accepted in Dauntless, it's imperative that she branch out beyond her small group of transfers, and that night she did.

The second stage of initiation is unlike the first in every way, and tests the initiates in ways they didn't even think they could be tested. By constantly facing their fears every single day, the initiates will learn to overcome them; it seems much more relevant to their grand purpose in Dauntless. It's interesting that Four has admitted that Dauntless initiation never used to be this difficult, and at last we have confirmation that the shift has been caused by a ruthless change in leadership. There may be hope of reforming the faction, and it is clear that it can only come at the hands of people like Four and Tris.

We're slowly starting to learn more about Four's character, but he's still extremely mysterious, and clearly he's got some hidden secrets of his own. He knows of Divergence, either because he is, or he was close to someone who was. His past is also very murky; did he come from Dauntless, or another faction? And why is he so determined to avoid the Abnegation faction? This air of mystery surrounding the eighteen-year-old instructor is undoubtedly part of the allure that pulls Tris to him.

But they must learn to let their guards down in order for something true to blossom. However, they have quite a ways to go before their barriers are broken down. At this point, strength is synonymous with Dauntless, and Tris and Four both must keep up appearances.

We've encountered a shift in the novel at this section, just like initiation has shifted from stage one to stage two. Before, Tris was merely another contender in this vicious competition, and a mediocre one at best. She was learning the ropes, making friends, and developing a new identity just like everyone else. Now, though, the mood has become darker and more ominous as Tris begins to delve deeper into herself. The simulations are increasingly more violent and terrifying. And, of course, Tris's Divergence is coming more and more into play. For the first time, we get a concrete explanation as to why it's so dangerous to be Divergent: because the Dauntless leaders, scared of something the Divergents are capable of, have been discreetly killing them off. There is certainly a different feel to this section of the novel, and Tris has much bigger concerns than just her rank. The stakes are getting higher.

And on an even larger scale, the schism between Abnegation and Dauntless is threatening to destroy the fragile peace between the factions; Erudite are clearly belligerent, judging by the things they've been printing, and their direct attacks against the Abnegation government are impossible to ignore. Will Tris get dragged into this to defend her family's honor and her birth faction? What about her brother, Caleb, who is now an Erudite? She has enough to worry about, what with initiation and death threats for being Divergent, but this problem will undoubtedly find her in some way. For now, knowing only what Tris knows, we must question Erudite's motives behind the rumors and false information they're spreading.