Last week we started reading Veronica Roth’s Divergent, and the internet has not turned on us yet. Except for that Doctor Who thing.
In other news, Ariel is unable to comment on today’s post because she’s too drunk. But she did drunkenly Facebook message me to say, “just say tris is divergetn as fuck for me“, so there you go. It’s like she never left.
volunteered as tribute jumped into the bottomless hole first, the rest of the Divergent initiates follow and then are split up into Career Tributes Divergent-born and kids who are probably gonna die and transfers and kids who are probably gonna die. Of the nine transfers, only Tris is Abnegation – the rest are Erudite and Candor. Tris points out that none of them are Amity, because Amity is the Hufflepuff of Divergent.
The rest of the group also learns totally-not-Tris’s-love-interest’s name.
“I am your instructor,” he says. “My name is Four.”
Christina asks, “Four? Like the number?”
Four gives the newcomers a tour of their secret underground
cave Divergent base. Where all the Divergent, who make up 1/5 of the population, live in secret. But it’s cool because Tris notices it doesn’t make sense either.
I don’t see any elderly people in the crowd. Are there any old Dauntless? Do they not last that long, or are they just sent away when they can’t jump off moving trains anymore?
I hope this actually comes up again later as something interesting instead of this actually being the explanation. Dauntless-born people have to come from somewhere and this is kind of the only explanation we have:
Four shows them their base, which includes appropriately badass areas like the Pit, which is literally just a hole leading to a several story-drop, because even Dauntless’s interior decorators are really fucking hardcore. They then go to the cafeteria where Tris encounters the most shocking part of Dauntless lyfe yet: a hamburger.
I punch one between my fingers, unsure what to make of it.
Four nudges me with his elbow.
“It’s beef,” he says. “Put this on it.” He passes me a small bowl full of red sauce. […]
[Christina] smirks. “No wonder you left [Abnegation].”
“Yeah, I say, rolling my eyes. “It was just because of the food.”
The corner of Four’s mouth twitches.
Hey. Guys. It’s a meat cute.
Tris explains that Abnegation didn’t have these hamburgers because “extravagance is considered self-indulgent and unnecessary”, because if I could think of one word to describe a hamburger, it would be “extravagant”.
A man named Eric with many piercings appears and we learn he’s one of the five leaders of Dauntless, just in case we confuse the man with many piercings as any of the other Factions. Eric walks over to Four and goads him with teasing questions while Four sits there fairly reservedly. The reader immediately picks up that theirs is a cold relationship.
“Max tells me he keeps trying to meet with you, and you don’t show up,” Erik says. […]
“Tell him that I am satisfied with the position I currently hold.”
“So he wants to give you a job.” […]
“So it would seem,” Four says.
“And you aren’t interested.”
“I haven’t been interested for two years.”
“Well,” says Eric. “Let’s hope he gets the point then.”
Although Tris is completely baffled.
Are they friends? […] Everything Eric did – sitting here, asking about Four – suggests that they are, but the way Four sits, tense as pulled wire, suggests they are something else.
Tris continues to spell everything out for the reader short of discovering his name is Eric Secondaryantagonist.
I don’t understand why, but I don’t want Eric to look at me any longer than he already has.
Which isn’t “bad”, but, come on, we need something to wonder about outside of “no, seriously, Factions?”
After dinner, Eric explains Dauntless orientation to the group. The initiates are ranked during each stage of initiation, and only people ranked in the top ten are accepted into Dauntless, because it is apparently a rule now that all dystopian YA must have a training montage where the stakes are conveyed quantitatively as fuck.
Even worse, the transfers are competing against the Dauntless-born, which means that only half of them are going to make it.
“You chose us,” [Eric] says. “Now we have to choose you.”
Remember how all this “choosing” is a central theme of the novel, because it’s going to be completely contradicted in the climax.
Tris lies in bed considering the dire straits she has found herself in, when she overhears the Candor boy, Al, crying. As always, this is an opportunity to remind us that Tris is… divergent.
No one has to know that I don’t want to help him.
Eventually Tris is going to discover that cheeseburgers exist and it’s going to be a huge deal that nobody has to know that she doesn’t want to choose the cheese.
The first Dauntless lesson is learning how to shoot a gun.
Dauntless initiation is designed to remove cowardice. The first stage is physical, the second emotional, and the third mental.
“Initiation is divided into three stages. […] The stages are not weighed equally in determining your final rank, so it is possible, though difficult, to drastically improve your rank over time.”
Okay, so I guess we know exactly what’s going to happen to Tris, because there’s no reason why this information would be given to us otherwise. This is just, uh… you know… Chekhov’s Gun…
My family would never approve of me firing a gun. They would say that guns are used for self-defense, if not violence, and therefore they are self-serving.
Self-defense is self-serving? Oh my God, these fucking people. What isn’t self-serving with them? Next thing we’ll be learning that even hamburgers are- OH WAIT.
It takes Tris all of training to fire a shot that hits the target, and only barely. After training she wonders about more troublesome matters, like how she has more than a single definable trait.
Tori warned me that being Divergent was dangerous […] So far it hasn’t been a problem, but that doesn’t make me feel safe. What if I let my guard down and something terrible happens?
Seriously, what could the problem be? So far we have no context for understanding how a person with more than one narrowly-defined trait can make her dangerous (much less even negatively affect her), because it kind of seems like… most people in this book meet those requirements?
Anyway, this stops being a problem because Tris sees some people make out and that’s a way bigger deal.
I watch them carefully. I’ve only seen a few kisses in my life. [..] “Do they have to be so public?” I say.
“She just kissed him.” Al frowns at me. […]
“A kiss is not something you do in public.”
Al, Will, and Christina all give me the same knowing smile.
“What?” I say.
“Your Abnegation is showing,” says Christina. “The rest of us are all right with a little affection in public.”
Is it weird if this is the first time I’m sympathizing with Tris?
“I am not frigid!” I exclaim.
“Don’t worry about it,” says Will. “It’s endearing.”
Tris talks about how it feels good to laugh again, but I just remember how awful high school is.
After lunch, they go back to training and Four starts teaching them the basics of hand-to-hand combat. Tris struggles with this, which is great, because we needed a convenient reason to have some romantic tension.
“You don’t have much muscle,” [Four] says, “Which means you’re better off using your knees and elbows. You can put more power behind them.”
Suddenly he presses a hand to my stomach. […] My heart pounds so hard my chest hurts, and I stare at him, wide-eyed.
“Never forget to keep tension here,” he says in a quiet voice.
Al, the crying transfer, decides he needs to feel more like a Dauntless, and decides that he’s going to get a tattoo, because every problem in this book is solved with stereotypes. This results in a whole mess of “Change in Appearance = CHANGE IN EMOTIONS” for our heroes, which is a metaphor that always works very well.
“No. I will not cut my hair,” I say, “or dye it a strange color. Or piece my face.”
“How about your bellybutton?” she says.
“Or your nipple?” Will says with a snort.
I realize they don’t match up to the stiff competition we’ve seen in the other books on this blog, but Tris’s friends are kind of jerks.
Christina talks Tris into at least getting a new, knee-length black dress, and even into putting makeup on her.
Looking at myself now isn’t like seeing myself for the first time; it’s like seeing someone else for the first time. Beatrice was a girl I saw in stolen moments at the mirror, who kept quiet at the dinner table. This is someone whose eyes claim mine and don’t release me; this is Tris.
Tris and Christina meet up with Al and however many other friends they have at the tattoo parlor, and who should happen to work there but Tori, the Dauntless who administered Tris’s cheese/knife test? She smiles in surprise at seeing Tris again. Tris sneakily asks her if she can talk to her about her secret, but Tori doesn’t think it’s a good idea and tells her she has to “go it alone”. Tris is upset, because she knows that Tori is keeping answers from her, but surprises herself when Tori’s suggestion to get an impulse tattoo sounds pretty good.
I understand now what Tori said about her tattoo representing a fear she overcame. […]
“Yes,” I say. “Three of these flying birds.”
I touch my collarbone, marking the path of their flight – toward my heart. One for each member of the family I left behind.
You know, as much as I appreciate this book doing my job of actually thinking about it for me, young adults probably know what metaphors are.
– – –
Side Note: I accidentally caused some offense with the joke about Catholicism on yesterday’s post. Ariel wrote a joke about how miserable Abnegation is and wondered why anybody would choose it. I tried to draw a real-world comparison to Catholicism, saying that I could understand how people find meaning in something that other people simply see as strict, because people just connect to things differently and that’s fine – people gotta find what works for them. Unfortunately, I didn’t look over what I had written very carefully, and instead of defending Abnegation like I intended, I accidentally wrote something that instead looked like I was attacking Catholicism. So I’d like to clear the air about what I meant to write and apologize for what I actually did write, because intent is all well and good, but – as anyone who reads this blog knows – it doesn’t make up for bad writing.