Previously, Tris didn’t choose the cheese or the knife, thus proving she is divergent as fuck. Also, shhhh no one can know she’s divergent because she’s a little bit dangerous.
Now that the tone has been appropriately set, let’s go to a Choosing Ceremony. [Matthew says: It’s like The Hunger Games, except EVERYBODY volunteers as tribute!]
It ain’t dystopian fiction without a ceremony, y’all! It’s time for Tris to make her big decision, but first here’s why smoking is bad in the future:
A pale ring of sunlight burns into the clouds like the end of a lit cigarette. I will never smoke one myself—they are closely tied to vanity—but a crowd of Candor smokes them in front of the building when we get off the bus.
FUCKIN’ CANDORS AND THER GOSH DARN SMOKIN. But actually why vanity? I could even sort of understand if Tris was like, “I’d never smoke because it’s selfish to damage your health knowingly”. I’d be annoyed, but at least there’d be some logic there.
Also, as I’m looking through my notes, my anti-Abnegation feelings start right away in this book. There’s a lot of “Omg I can’t wait till Tris leaves these assholes” and my response to this…
The elevator is crowded, so my father volunteers to give a cluster of Amity our place.
…was simply, “Fuck you, Tris’ dad. Let someone else be selfless for once.”
Man I did not, and still don’t, like Abnegation. Does that make me factionist?
My father holds the door open on the twentieth floor and stands like a sentry as every Abnegation walks past him. I would wait for him, but the crowd presses me forward, out of the stairwell and into the room where I will decide the rest of my life.
Serious question: how do Abnegations avoid getting trapped in an endless cycle of
“No after you.”
“…No after YOU.”
And so on. How do you get to win the battle to be the most selfless?
Tris informs us that factions are actually the dystopian equivalent of fraternities/sororities.
We are not called members yet; our decisions today will make us initiates, and we will become members if we complete initiation.
Tris mentions that Caleb is going to go first, and I am going to smugly point out that I guessed what faction he would choose. We didn’t mention this, but at the end of last chapter this happened after Tris spoke to her brother:
“I peer into his room and see an unmade bed and a stack of books on his desk. ”
So obviously Caleb is going to choose Erudite because no self-respecting Abnegation would be caught dead with a book…unless you want them to read a book then it would be selfish if they didn’t.
In the last circle are five metal bowls so large they could hold my entire body, if I curled up. Each one contains a substance that represents each faction: gray stones for Abnegation, water for Erudite, earth for Amity, lit coals for Dauntless, and glass for Candor.
Do they have an affinity for all the elements, though? Has the goddess Nyx blessed them? Huh? HUH? [Matthew says: Keep in mind we have STILL never gotten an explanation for what any of the factions are, but we’ll be damned if we’re not gonna get some symbolism that perfectly represents whatever the hell they are!]
Mrs Tris’ mom whispers to her that she’ll love her no matter what she chooses, which is great news as Tris is obviously going to leave Abnefuckingation in her dust.
We learn some history about the factions during the ceremony:
Decades ago our ancestors realized that it is not political ideology, religious belief, race, or nationalism that is to blame for a warring world. Rather, they determined that it was the fault of human personality—of humankind’s inclination toward evil, in whatever form that is. They divided into factions that sought to eradicate those qualities they believed responsible for the world’s disarray. [Matthew says: Closed-mindedness was not one of them, apparently.]
In other words:
“You guys know what we haven’t blamed the world’s problems on yet? Personality!”
“What do you mean, Mark?”
“Hear me out. Hear me out. You remember that girl who was really bland from high school? I bet if we stuck her in her own…faction, yeah, factions! I bet if we stuck Blandy McBlando in her own faction the world be a better place.”
“Yes…YES. And then we can determine who should be in different factions based on whether or not they choose a knife or cheese.”
“Shit, we’re really onto something here. Let’s throw a pissed off dog into the mix, and we’ve got ourselves a grade A plan to save the world!”
Here’s a quick summary of the factions’ defining (only?) characteristics.
- Amity = Nice
- Candor = Honest
- Abnegation = B
- Dauntless = Brave
- Erudite = Intelligent
Everyone contributes to a specific aspect of society. [Matthew says: Sort of liiiiiike…]
For some reason Candor are lawyers…if life is so peaceful, are their services even in demand? [Matthew says: And Amity are the similarly niche “counselors and caretakers”, so this book has TWO Hufflepuffs!] And Dauntless defend society from…something.
I have no idea if these factions are just in Chicago or if they’re a national thing, but their motto “factions before blood” reminds me again of a fraternity/sorority. Do Dauntless from Chicago and New York meet up and immediately do their faction’s handshake? [Matthew says: Of course not. Chicagoans and New Yorkers hate each other.]
[Matthew says: As you might imagine, the speech before the ceremony requires a lot of suspension of disbelief:
“The reach of each faction is not limited to these areas. We give one another far more than can be adequately summarized.”
Caleb chooses Erudite and Tris chooses Dauntless. GASP. [Matthew says: So, wait, how is Caleb not Divergent? Because he’s definitely displayed Abnegation tendencies.]
Tris dad is visibly upset by her decision, but her mom is straight-up smiling about it. Even Abnegations hate Abnegation.
The Dauntless members and the new initiates start heading towards the stairs. The very stairs Abnegation took earlier!
Then everyone starts running. I hear whoops and shouts and laughter all around me, and dozens of thundering feet moving at different rhythms. It is not a selfless act for the Dauntless to take the stairs; it is a wild act.
Wait. You mean to tell me the same action can have different meanings?!?!? Get outta town. Everything I believed is a farce. [Matthew says: Wow! I wonder if that applies to people, too? Oh- just… just Tris? Oh. Okay.]
They all start running for the trains (remember the jumping and the trains and the dauntless):
I have not run anywhere in a long time. Abnegation discourages anything done strictly for my own enjoyment, and that is what this is
Seriously why would anyone ever choose Abnegation? Such a miserable faction. I bet their initiation is being offered a delicious slice of pie, and if you don’t offer it to someone else you fail. [Matthew says: Honestly, I can kind of see this. Like, especially if you were born into Abnegation. It’s basically why we still have Catholicism. I bet there are a lot of stand-up comedians in the world of Divergent who make jokes about being raised Abnegation.]
One boy is unable to jump on the train and fails initiation immediately. Lucky for Tris, one of the other faction transfers helps her up whew. [Matthew says: Therefore their situations are totally different and Tris has not failed initiation, because fuck you, slow kid.] Her name is Christina and she is in the rest of the book, so you may as well remember her now.
Tris contemplates her decision to leave her parents behind.
I close my eyes and picture my mother and father sitting at the dinner table in silence. Is it a lingering hint of selflessness that makes my throat tighten at the thought of them, or is it selfishness, because I know I will never be their daughter again?
It’s both, Tris, because you are divergent as fuck.
Next, the initiates have to jump from the train down seven stories to a rooftop. I remember this was where I kinda started getting into things. Granted, I find a lot of the Dauntless danger really pointless, but this was the first time I was like, shit, something is at stake for Tris now. [Matthew says: Especially since someone helped her do the first thing that was totally real stakes for that other kid who already failed at life.] I couldn’t care less she left her family, but right away I wanted her to kick ass in initiation and not plummet to her death. That’s saying a lot because I would want most characters we write about to plummet to their death.
We meet Captain Obvious, a pivotal character for this scene:
“We have to jump off too, then,” a Candor girl says. She has a large nose and crooked teeth.
Duly noted. Otherwise I might have had the completely wrong image of her in my head. I haven’t seen the movie, but I really hope they found the right actress for this role.
One transfer is too scared and says he’d rather be factionless than dead. THE HORROR. Tris, being very un-divergent, disagrees.
Still not sure what the point of this was, but one of the transfers actually misses the jump and does plummet to his death – yikes! The stakes have never been higher!
I tell myself, as sternly as possible, that is how things work here. We do dangerous things and people die. People die, and we move on to the next dangerous thing. The sooner that lesson sinks in, the better chance I have at surviving initiation.
You know, in the Hunger Games, this type of mindset made 100% sense, the stakes were high and believable within that world. Granted, we don’t really know the Dauntless backstory aside from “They thought bravery was the answer!” But this isn’t “bravery” this is stupidly putting yourself in unnecessary danger to…prove said bravery? Doing dangerous things and dying like this doesn’t make me think Tris or any of the Dauntless are badass, just stupid.
And I don’t think this is just for initiation either. It said right from the start that they jump on and off the trains just to get to school. It sounds like this is just part of life for some reason. Maybe we’ll get answers like they’re always training because of the threats they fight against, and if you can’t survive doing things like this, you stand no chance against…the threats? But like at least have Tris speculate on this a little or have someone address it instead of glamourising it.
One of the Dauntless leaders announces the next challenge:
Several stories below us is the members’ entrance to our compound. If you can’t muster the will to jump off, you don’t belong here. Our initiates have the privilege of going first.
Is the only way to fucking prove yourself in Dauntless to just jump from dangerous places?
Tris is the first one to jump, impressing everyone including myself.
A net is waiting for Tris at the end of her fall and so is her future love interest 😉
He has a spare upper lip and a full lower lip. His eyes are so deep-set that his eyelashes touch the skin under his eyebrows, and they are dark blue, a dreaming, sleeping, waiting color.
When I first read “spare upper lip” I read it as “he has an extra upper lip…??” I’m still not at all sure what that means, though. [Matthew says: Speaking of weird-as-fuck writing in this scene, we also have this gem of a sentence:
“He” is the young man attached to the hand I grabbed.
So Divergent is mostly better written than most of the books we have here, provided Tris isn’t meeting hunky boys.]
We find out this guy’s name is Four, [Matthew says: Really.] and he tells Tris she can choose a new name. This is the point where she officially goes from being Beatrice to Tris. SORRY I RUINED THAT EPIC MOMENT FOR YOU GUYS!
What Divergent faction would you totes be in???? Let me know your results, guys. I got Amity OMG I’M NICE. [Matthew says: I got Erudite, because I’ve always gotten Ravenclaw so I was like, “Why am I even bothering with this quiz.”]