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.