At the Choosing Ceremony, both Tris and Caleb were forced to choose the type of person they wanted to be; not an easy task, but one that was necessary for them to continue forward in this society. This choice will form their identity, and neither wants to be identified as the selfless and unassuming Abnegation they were for sixteen years of their lives. They both realize that in order to discover who they truly are, they have to leave their family behind. In an amplified way, this mirrors the choice every young adult must make when they leave adolescence. Even in a fantasy novel, the theme of adulthood looms large.
It is interesting to note that while both siblings chose to transfer, neither informed the other of their plans; in Tris's case, she assumed Caleb would never think of transferring from Abnegation, but what about Caleb? He clearly knew something was going on in Tris's mind when he told her she had to think of herself, so why didn't he say he was experiencing the same conflict? Did he not trust her enough to keep it to herself? Or is it just too risky as an Abnegation to talk about switching to Erudite? This says something about both Caleb's character and the nature of the feud between Abnegation and Erudite; both are more complex than we realize. This also communicates an inherent flaw in the society's design. The test results are meant to be secret, the first step towards indoctrinating the initiates into this society - a society ruled by "faction before blood". This sentiment is meant to strengthen the bonds within the factions, but often comes at the cost of one's familial ties. This idea will become fleshed out in later chapters.
In these chapters, Tris's character develops more as she begins to discover her true identity. The bravery required to leave her faction and switch to Dauntless is the first sign that she made the right decision, but she still has a lot more to prove. Her characterization continues to show through the various tasks she has to do before she even reaches the compound; jump onto the train, jump onto the building, and in particular, jump off of the building. That Tris was the first to do so speaks volumes about her determination and drive, and the reaction of the Dauntless at the bottom foreshadows that during initiation, Tris will be one to watch out for.
Then there's her decision to change her name: a name is the most central part of a person's identity, and most people typically do not get the luxury of choosing it for themselves. The name her parents chose for her, Beatrice, certainly suited her for the first phase of her life, but a modest and traditional name cannot continue to represent her as she moves into her new life in Dauntless. Because a name symbolizes identity more so than anything else, by choosing her own name, Tris chose her own identity—and it will be up to her to live up to it. Again, this idea of changing one's name signals the weakening of the family bond.
It is also necessary to take notice of the exchange between the initiates and the Amity boy, who says he won't jump because he would rather be factionless than dead. Tris disagrees, and this simple thought illustrates how ingrained the faction system is in these children; they are nothing without their faction. Faction before blood, plain and simple. Faction before everything. Are the factionless really as poor and misguided as Tris makes them out to be, or is that idea simply a way of brainwashing citizens into staying completely loyal to their factions - and to the system itself?
Lastly, Chapter 4 establishes the book's overarching villain - Jeanine Matthews. Whether or not what she says about Marcus Eaton is true, it's pretty clear that she's tying to stir up trouble and dissent between Abnegation and the other factions. Erudite's status as a faction of geniuses is used to gain power by spreading opinion - or propaganda - throughout the city. The truth is beside the point. The rift between the two factions is part of her larger plan, which will come to pass later in the novel.
In the first four chapters, we are thrown right into Beatrice's world of factions with only little bits of explanation here and there; mostly we learn how things work as Beatrice narrates her daily life. Her world is a stark contrast of our own. In Divergent, young adults only make one major decision in their life - which faction to choose. Their life up until that point has been predetermined by the faction they were born into. Life afterwards is also rigidly constructed, and each person must follow the rules and roles of their chosen faction. The course of a person's entire life if determined on Choosing Day. Roth begins with the mirror anecdote in order to quickly illustrate the disparity between the real world and that of the novel: who can imagine only being allowed to look in a mirror a few times a year? The tone immediately is balanced between fantasy and coming-of-age.
On the cusp of adulthood, Beatrice Prior has characteristics of other major Young Adult protagonists, as well as the average teenaged reader. She is curious and unsure of herself, conflicted between serving her family and honoring her own desires, and yearning for possibility. In the world of Divergent, however, these traits are dangerous. We get a sense that Beatrice is going to be different from everyone else just by the way her inner turmoil over her life in Abnegation and which faction to choose is emphasized throughout the first and second chapters, before she takes her test. While everyone else is described as Abnegation through and through, especially Beatrice's own family, in the first chapters, she has a lot of trouble deciding whether or not her childhood faction is the place she wants to spend the rest of her life. It's pretty clear from the start that this decision will very difficult for her, and her choice will mean sacrificing a part of herself. This is a classic theme of coming-of-age works, as it relates to the choices young men and women must make in their own lives.
Beatrice's familial relationships are interesting to note as well. It seems like Abnegation do not place as much emphasis on familial love as we do in present day, probably because love can sometimes be seen as selfish. Beatrice clearly admires her mother for her adherence to the Abnegation way of life, but it's difficult to recognize an archetypal mother-daughter connection. It seems that Beatrice is closer to her brother, Caleb, over other members of her family, which makes sense because of how close in age they are, but even they don't have a typical brother-sister dynamic because of their upbringing.
The theme of choice and identity is established right away; though perhaps the gravity of the choice Beatrice has to make will be more evident in the next few chapters. The students wait in extreme anxiety to take their aptitude tests, because after all, the results could determine the rest of their lives. Even the nature of the aptitude test expresses the importance of choices defining your identity; in order to determine her faction match, Beatrice has to choose between the cheese and the knife, choose to save herself of save the child from the dog, and choose whether or not to lie to the man on the bus. The man's words at the end of the chapter serve to accentuate this theme even further: "Choose wisely, little girl." Beatrice must be wise, because this choice will determine what type of person she will become.
As is often the case with a novel's early chapters, there is a lot of foreshadowing. Tori's warning that Divergence is very dangerous and should be kept secret will certainly come into play later in the novel, and as previously stated, her discontentment with her Abnegation life signifies that she will choose to leave her childhood faction. Caleb's discomfort after leaving his aptitude test must mean something as well; clearly Beatrice isn't the only one with surprising results.
I just wanted to wish all of my students and co-workers a most awesome Thanksgiving holiday. Joining the faculty at Skyline has been one of the best decisions that I've made. I truly have a lot to be thankful for this holiday season!
I find it amazing that I provide a website for my students with a blog, forums, lesson plans and various other items. I have a remind account for my students so they can receive updates on various class related items from me. Additionally, I make announcements every day in class about what is due. Yet, it is my fault when student(s) receive a zero on an assignment that was not submitted for grading after the student(s) have received multiple notifications from multiple sources. I'm not certain why it works out that way, but it does. Funny thing is, some students don't use the resources provided for them (such as remind and my webpage) after being told multiple times to join my remind and to check my webpage. *end of rant*
I can’t believe that we’re almost done with 2 six weeks! It seems like just yesterday that I was starting a new adventure on the Skyline campus. I feel really blessed to have the awesome faculty and staff to work with! I also have the best students in DISD in my classroom! I really feel at home here, and I’m looking forward to a long, productive stay at Skyline!!
A lot happens in this section, starting with Tris's visit to Caleb. Tris believes Caleb has changed a lot, with his new glasses and his newfound appreciation for all the information available to him in Erudite. But in reality, she's changed even more, with her different appearance and her hardened countenance. Tris jumps down his throat for defending his faction and questioning hers. This one scene illustrates how far they've drifted apart, and what distance and different lifestyles can do to even the strongest of familial relationships. They no longer understand each other the way they used to. Tris wants so badly for Caleb to be her brother again, but nothing will ever be the same. This raises questions about the toll the faction system takes on families.
At the end of Chapter 28, Tobias reveals what the schism between Abnegation and Erudite is leading to: Erudite is planning a war on Abnegation. Even worse, they're going to recruit Dauntless to fight for their cause. The divisions have become so insurmountable that wars will be waged over disagreements - which is ironic, as the factions arose out of a desire to maintain peace. This exposes the flaw in the system, which Tobias articulates when showing Tris his tattoos. If value was placed on each and every one of the faction virtues and citizens were trained to cultivate them all, rather than just one, conflict could be avoided.
Jeanine Matthews has become a much more prominent antagonist over the course of the last few chapters. Before, Tris's focus was concentrated on initiation, where Peter and his lackeys presented her most direct threat. Now all the sudden the scope of her worries has become so much larger; not only is she in danger for being Divergent, her entire home faction is in danger because of this woman and the reach of her influence. Jeanine Matthews symbolizes the persuasive, charismatic, intelligent leaders in history who have managed to sway an entire group of people with propaganda and lies to begin something catastrophic. And those she can't persuade, she'll enslave, the way she's going to force Dauntless to fight her battles using an advanced simulation serum.
Tris's fears in her fear landscape say a lot about her, and in most of Chapter 30, she acknowledges this herself. The crows and the ocean waves represent her need for constant control, as we've seen over and over in her friendships, relationship with Tobias, and initiate training. She fears confinement, as displayed by the glass room full of water, and indeed she left Abnegation because she felt confined and constrained by the lifestyle she'd be committing herself to. She fears intimacy, because it could involve losing the control she craves. Tris fears causing her family pain, because despite everything that's happened, she still loves them and values them. One of her biggest concerns when leaving Abnegation was upsetting them, and when she was frustrated, upset, and confused, she ran straight to Erudite to see Caleb because she thought it would give her some form of familial comfort. Family is a major theme in this novel, as is fear, so it makes sense that her final initiation test would combine the two.
As discussed in the previous section, Tris has been feeling inferior in her newfound relationship with Tobias; she even goes so far as to ask him what he's getting out of the relationship, what she has to offer him, making sure it's not just physical. But she seems to accept his reassurances, and over the course of her final days as an initiate his presence has been a comfort to her. When he decides to kiss her in public without fear of the reactions of others, he shows that he's ready to commit himself the way she already has herself - by doing this, they're both stepping out of their comfort zones and into murky waters, but at the time, it seems worth it. Their connection will prove deeper than they even imagined.
What prompted Al to take the suicide route as an escape? The topic of suicide in a society obsessed with the concept of courage is touchy; even in our own society, there has been much debate over whether or not the act of killing oneself is considered brave or cowardly. The current Dauntless administration seems to have decided on the former, but the circumstances suggest that Tris is right to disagree; in the last days of his life, Al was anything but brave. Maybe misguided, maybe foolish, and maybe overwhelmed, but each one of his last actions belied his weakness. Despite his faults, though, it is easy to pity him, since he certainly wasn't evil from the start.
Moving onto stage three of initiation will at last give us a chance to witness Tris's personal fears, and how they may have developed during her time in Dauntless. Will she be able to fight through her fear landscape as easily as she did the stage two simulations? And if she does, will her success bring the Dauntless leaders' wrath upon her at last? The conversation Tris overhears between Eric and the other person suggests that they're zeroing in on her, and that it won't be long before a confrontation occurs. Four is right when he says that Tris needs to watch herself.
Speaking of Four, if Tris has been slowly breaking down the wall he's built up around him over the course of her initiation, than this section is the first time in which it finally starts tumbling down. His utter rage and defensiveness in response to her kidnapping clearly shows that he's feeling something more than an instructor should feel for his initiate, and that he takes her under his wing and watches out for her the night after shows the same. He seems to finally have given in to his instincts and opened up to her, but there are still many more secrets for both to reveal.
For the first time, we have confirmation that he has come from a different faction, and, though he won't say for certain, Tris is starting to believe he was Abnegation. This would explain her mother's recognition of him, plus his avoidance of Abnegation. His name will certainly be a key to uncovering who he was before Dauntless - just like Tris's old name was a connection to her past. Identity is Tris's world is much more grey than the factions would have her believe.
At last, Tris and Four's relationship has blossomed into something real. By allowing Tris to experience his fear landscape, Four has shared something extremely personal and central to his identity with her. Sharing your fears with someone would be monumental anywhere, but it is particularly so in Dauntless, where their fears characterize their entire experience. He has at last opened himself up to her, and it seems like he isn't the kind of person who does that easily.
Tris and Tobias's experience inside the landscape illustrates some key changes in their relationship and in their respective characters. Since she arrived in Dauntless, Four has spent much of his time trying to protect Tris, even if sometimes he's unaware that he's doing so. She was always the smaller, weaker one, and their developing relationship was defined by moments like her kidnapping, where he stepped in to rescue her. Now, inside his fear landscape, Tobias is the vulnerable one, and Tris has to keep a level head while he panics. This is essential; it's important for them to be on equal standing if the relationship will work.
Tobias trusts Tris enough to allow her to see who he truly is. At long last we've solved the mystery of Tobias Eaton, the Abnegation son of Marcus Eaton who transferred to Dauntless. Even more significant is that we've learned that Jeanine Matthews and Erudite were right in the article they published about Marcus, stating he abused his son. This fact reveals some key points about both factions, and the system at large. Abnegation, which prides itself on selflessness, appointed a child abuser as a representative. Of course no one but Marcus and Tobias knew the truth, but the pure motivations behind Abnegation start to crumble in this revelation. Its purpose was twisted by Marcus who found a way to justify beating his son. Just as Eric and the new Dauntless leadership are manipulating aspects of the manifesto to their own end, Abnegation can be corrupted. Also of interest is that Erudite's propaganda is not always false. This chips away at Tris's assumptions that everything Erudite publishes is slander. Pitting factions against factions makes the world seem black and white, but not everything is as it seems, and neither side is innocent.
In the moment, however, Tris does not fully process the news. Understandably, the exchange of affection and kisses are the most pressing of her concerns. She doesn't stop to think about what this might mean for her home faction, or even all the factions in general, having an abusive man like Marcus leading them. The larger implications of having an abusive man in power, or whether or not Jeanine Matthews is right to target Marcus gets lost in the wake of the newfound relationship. Of course these issues will crop up again as Tris gets a handle on her emotions.
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.
Tris's success in stage two of initiation shows that what she may lack in Dauntless fighting capabilities and strength, she makes up for in her mental response to fear. Whether this is innate or merely a product of her Divergence is uncertain, but either way, her first place ranking makes her a threat. That Tris's success and strength make her friends feel weak is, of course, not a good sign, but this undoubtedly stems from the demanding and intense competition facing the young initiates. They all came here with the intention of making it through initiation, so when someone threatens that, even if it's a friend, fear and anger are logical responses. But while Will and Christina simply take some time to cool down, Al takes his anger to a whole new level, going so far as to possibly kill one of his best friends in the faction.
Al's choice to betray Tris and join up with Peter and Drew, initiates far stronger than him, shows his mental and emotional inability to handle the pressure that Dauntless throws at him. Did he truly think he had something to gain from this, or that teaming up with Peter and Drew wouldn't turn out to be a huge mistake? They were using him, no doubt, and it's interesting to try and delve into Al's mind and determine what prompted this decision. It may have been a fit of insanity or a cold, calculated choice, but either way, it's pretty clear that at no point did he foresee the terrible consequences of his actions.