Insurgent Symbols, Allegory and Motifs


We get a look into Tris's dreams many times over the course of this novel. Her most common dreams are about either killing Will or her deceased parents. From this, readers can infer that Tris's dreams are a manifestation of the guilt that she tries to block out during the day. She feels guilty for killing Will, but she tries to ignore that to keep moving on and doing what she has to do—as a result, it comes out in her dreams. She feels guilty that her parents sacrificed themselves for her, but she does not often think about that while conscious. Tris's dreams reveal a lot about her that readers do not get to see on the surface. 

Waking Up

Another recurring motif in this work is Tris waking up from these dreams. Many chapters begin with Tris waking up, either from slumber or from induced unconsciousness, to a new, potentially dangerous situation. This is fitting, because there are so many horrors occuring in faction society that Tris must metaphorically "wake up" to. She must constantly cope with friends getting injured and dying, with secrets being revealed, with Jeanine and Erudite inflicting new horrors on everyone. Finally, Tris needs to "wake up" to the idea of an entirely new society, either one without factions that the factionless suggest, or one that exists beyond the fence. 


Tris thinks about her heartbeat and others' heartbeats repeatedly, with lines like "I hear my heartbeat, fast and strong. Soon, where that steady rhythm was, there will be nothing." More than anything else, she associates a heartbeat with life, and a lack of a heartbeat with death. Heartbeats are not only about mortality, though—they are also an emotional entity for Tris, who does not typically talk about her emotions. Often readers only know what Tris is feeling through descriptions of her heartbeat. 

The Data

In Insurgent, the data that Marcus seeks to recover is a prominent symbol for truth. So much of the truth has been kept from faction citizens for their entire lives and longer, and this vital information is truth that Abnegation was tasked with keeping safe until the right time to reveal it. For most of this novel, the truth is in the hands of Jeanine, who does everything she can to obscure it—at the end, however, the data is uncovered at last, and the truth revealed to everyone who had been in the dark.


As is typical in a novel about a war, thoughts about death, dying, and mortality are common throughout Insurgent. As Tris watches her friends die, she repeatedly thinks about what it would be like to die herself—however, she does not quite understand death until she stares it in the face, lying on the execution table. Tris throws herself into deadly situations over and over again, not truly understanding what it means to die even though thoughts of death are hugely present in her mind.