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.