Insurgent Summary and Analysis of Chapters 31-35


That night Tris dreams of standing in the Amity orchards with her mother. Tris wonders how she never realized her mother was born Dauntless, and laments that she will never truly know her. Peter comes in to escort her somewhere else, and says he knows what she did to Will, and that makes her no better than he is. Tris is shocked to be taken back to the room where she will ultimately be executed; she thinks Jeanine is breaking the agreement. Instead, though, Tobias walks in, and Jeanine says that he must watch her inject Tris with some kind of liquid, and then his selfless instincts will take over and he will tell her what she needs to know:  information about the factionless safe houses.

She injects Tris, and it turns out to be an extremely intense fear simulation. Tris watches in horror as Tobias kills himself, truly believing it is real. Finally it ends, and she comes back to consciousness. Tobias is horrified, and he agrees to Jeanine's demands because he cannot watch Tris like that any longer; she gives him a map to mark the factionless safe houses. Jeanine announces another procedure that they will perform on Tris, but she says since she promised transparency, she will reveal who has been advising her on the best ways to manipulate Tris this whole time. It is Caleb

They put Tris to sleep for a day to observe her brain, and when she wakes she tries to figure out why and when Caleb betrayed her. Peter comes to escort her to the showers, and in the hallway they pass Tobias. But Tobias clearly has a plan: he crumples to the ground, surprising his Dauntless escort, and then grabs his gun and shoots. He pulls Tris along down the hallway, running, but she is too weak to make it far; instead, he puts her on his back. She points out that Tobias missed an exit, but he says he is not trying to escape—he's trying to find something. 

They make it to a control room and go inside; Tobias shoots the cameras so there is no surveillance. He tells Tris that he did not actually come here on a suicide mission; he came here to find Erudite's two central control rooms so that when the factionless, the loyal Dauntless, and some Abnegation invade, they will know what to target to get rid of the simulation data. He tells Tris that they have a plan, so she needs to hold on until her scheduled execution date, two weeks from now, when the invasion will happen. Tris says she does not know if she can make it that long; she is so tired. She realizes that she does not want life; she wants her parents. Tobias says he knows she will survive it, because that's who she is. When the Dauntless traitors find them, Tobias calmly offers them his gun. 

Tris wakes up in another experiment room, with Caleb standing over her. She asks if he ever even left Erudite. Caleb says this situation is about something much larger than she would ever know. He reveals that he was always Erudite; he never left them. At that moment Jeanine comes in, who discusses the latest scan results. Tris has an abundance of mirror neurons, and apparently someone with mirror neurons can have a flexible personality, capable of mimicking others as the situation calls for rather than remaining constant. 

Tobias wakes Tris up in her cell. He is wearing a Dauntless traitor jacket and bleeding from a wound in his ear. He tells Tris to get up; they have to run right away, even though it has not been two weeks. He does not have time to explain. As they reach a fire exit, Tris realizes what is going on: this is a simulation. She takes a knife from her pocket and wills her leg to be as hard as diamond—then she thrusts it towards her thigh, and she wakes up. Jeanine screams in frustration, and asks what it is that clues her in every time. Tris refuses to tell her, because she knows Jeanine will not kill her without that answer. Tris lunges as Jeanine and begins to punch and claw at her while she screams. Tris tells Jeanine that she will never be able to control her. 

Tris wakes to Peter telling her that her execution has been scheduled for the next morning; Jeanine has decided to continue the experiments on Tobias instead. Tris is strangely okay with dying, and thinks about her parents. Tris tells Peter that she could have forgiven him for trying to kill her during initiation—Peter says he never asked her to, but then elaborates: it's a small act of betrayal and bravery, because for the past few days he had been repeatedly refusing to tell her when she asked. 

As Peter leads her to her execution, they pass a window into a room where Tobias is, and she and Tobias press their hands up against the glass together. Peter leads her down the middle of a path of traitor Dauntless into her execution room, and it is as Peter places electrodes on her chest that Tris realizes she does not really want to die. The last thing she hears is Peter telling her to be brave—she wonders why he would offer any words of kindness at all. Jeanine injects her with liquid, and eventually the heart monitor stops beeping. 


The moment when Tris "breaks" Jeanine by resisting yet another simulation is important, because she finally realizes the power she has to manipulate Jeanine the way Jeanine manipulates her. She has the one thing that Jeanine wants most: the secret to controlling the Divergent and succeeding with her plans. In this moment she injures Jeanine both emotionally, through her resistance of what Jeanine truly thought would be a successful serum, and physically, by scratching and clawing at her face. Yes, Jeanine may have called for Tris's execution immediately after, but this still means Tris won. She was able to withhold this crucial information and not give Jeanine what she wants.

Caleb's betrayal is shocking, and readers feel betrayed right along with Tris because of how good he was at concealing it. Perhaps there were signs all along, but since Tris did not notice them, readers didn't, either. Caleb has brought a disturbing meaning to the saying "faction before blood." His aid was another thing that helped Jeanine get to know her rival so that she could truly manipulate her the way she needed to.

Throughout this book, but particularly in these chapters, there is a common motif of Tris waking up. Almost every new section begins with her awakening from a deep sleep, either to Peter ready to escort her to some new experiment, or in a chair or on a table with the testing about to start. In this unknown place that is the Erudite compound, Tris is constantly opening her eyes to new horrors and new revelations. There is an anatomical explanation for Divergence. Her brother Caleb has betrayed her. These new revelations are represented by these repeated awakenings. 

Since she arrived at Erudite, Tris has been thinking about her parents more than ever before. This is because she has made a sacrifice, just like them: she gave herself away to save other people who are important to her. Now that she knows she is going to die, she is attempting to embrace death the way they did. However, for someone who has fought so hard to live in the face of so much adversity, this is extremely difficult.

There is some foreshadowing here, particularly where Peter is concerned. Peter began the book as a grudging accomplice of Tris and her gang, then stooped low and hardened again when he joined back up with Erudite and the Dauntless traitors. Now, though, it seems he is softening up to Tris for the first time. In Chapter 34, he shows a small act of Dauntless bravery in telling her what time it is—this suggests that perhaps in the future, there will be more.

In this section, readers learn that Tobias is indeed stronger and braver than he was given credit for. He has masterfully devised a way to fit rescuing Tris into the overall factionless plot to overthrow Erudite, and by putting his own life on the line in order to do that, he has shown the bravery of a true Dauntless. However, Tris's execution has certainly thrown a wrench in the plan. If Tris is dead, as the heart monitor suggests she is, then it is debatable whether Tobias will have the strength to continue to do what he has to do to help the cause; however, the factionless will undoubtedly not let one death stop them from achieving their ultimate goal.

It is fitting that Tris and Tobias's (presumably) last interaction together is one without words. It has always been words that have come between them; words, or an absence of them, as they keep important things from each other. It is through moments of silence and intimate actions that they have truly become close to each other. Actions are what have made their relationship truly blossom, so this hand touch is a fitting final, wordless goodbye. 

This invites the question: is Tris actually dead? There are a number of literary clues that suggest otherwise, other than the fact that there are still more chapters left in the book. Most importantly, if Tris is going to die, she needs to be ready to die. When she tells Tobias she is tired of holding on, it sounds like she is ready to face death. She herself thinks she is ready until she gets on the execution table and realizes she is not. In her head, she even shouts that she isn't finished here yet—she still is not done. For Tris to die before she is ready to would not do her story justice.