Tris joined Dauntless and began the daunting initiation. [Matthew says: Oh my God, I just got it.] Dauntless tasks for Tris include wearing eyeliner for the first time, getting a tattoo, and buying new clothes from the local Hot Topic.
Apparently buying new clothes, wearing eyeliner, and getting a tattoo isn’t enough to prove you’re a true Dauntless, [Matthew says: Whaaat now I understand nothing about how to be brave and badass.] so now it’s time for the kids to get in the arena and beat the shit out of each other. Bravery is all about beating the ever loving crap out of your peers.
As there are an odd number of transfers, Tris isn’t going to be fighting anyone today, but Christina is concerned because she’ll be fighting “the Tank,” who is just some girl named Molly. Instead of responding to Christina, Tris takes this time to go down memory lane and remember the good times she’s had with Christina. Since this morning.
Christina and I sat together at breakfast, and earlier she shielded me from the rest of the dormitory as I changed. I haven’t had a friend like her before. Susan was better friends with Caleb than with me, and Robert only went where Susan went.
I guess I haven’t really had a friend, period. It’s impossible to have real friendship when no one feels like they can accept help or even talk about themselves. That won’t happen here.
Aside from finding this a bit random, I think it actually is a really perfect moment to choose to convey Tris’ wonderment over what a friendship is supposed to look like. Especially since she’s never had a real friend before (boo, Susan, boo), little moments like those where someone is willing to help you not because they’re Abnegation and have an obligation to help you, but because they just want to do it would really mean something.
Again, trying to be friends with someone in Abnegation would be a constant exercise in trying to be more selfless than the other person. I can’t find the exact quote, but I think it might have been on Will and Grace, where one of the characters is mad because they feel like they never get a chance to be the selfless one in the relationship. Abnegation would be the worst kind of paradox to be trapped in unless you make an explicit schedule of when you can be the selfless one. [Matthew says: Abnegation: Where every interaction with every person is “No, you hang up first,” except you don’t like them because that would be selfish.]
We meet the obligatory group of assholes:
I glance at Peter and his friends. Drew is shorter than both Peter and Molly, but he’s built like a boulder, and his shoulders are always hunched. His hair is orange-red, the color of an old carrot.
Christina claims that Peter is “pure evil,” but the proof she provides is somewhat lacking.
“When we were kids, he would pick fights with people from other factions and then, when an adult came to break it up, he’d cry and make up some story about how the other kid started it. And of course, they believed him, because we were Candor and we couldn’t lie. Ha ha.”
Yeah yeah, you mean to tell me if Candors can lie this probably means they are also divergent as fuck, but I don’t care about that right now. What I care about is how ridiculously poor evidence this is. This is less evidence than Detective Shelly Graves has on Gideon over in the Entwined with You world, which I’m pretty sure only five of you are keeping up to date with. Don’t worry, there’s really not much to keep up to date with. [Matthew says: How are Candor all lawyers if they can’t tell if a fucking preteen is lying or not? No wonder this world’s gone to shit. Someone could rob a bank and go, “Wasn’t me! I’m Abnegation! We’re selfless!” and the police would be like, “Shit. That’s watertight.”]
If people were deemed “pure evil” simply by being sort of dicks as a kid, I would definitely fall into this same category. One time I stole a ton of money from my parents’ change jar, and then when my mom asked me where I got it from, I told her I had a job. I argued with her for ages over this and got super defensive. She might be shocked when she reads this to find out that I in fact probably didn’t have a job at the time, and if I did, child labor laws were seriously violated. I’m convinced later that Peter is a fucking dick, but not at this point.
It also shocks me that Christina is so open about the fact that Candors actually do in fact lie. Her sarcastic “we were Candor and we couldn’t lie. Ha ha” implies that this is common knowledge and a pretty regular occurrence. If Tris wasn’t even supposed to tell someone that she didn’t pick cheese or a knife, this seems like a pretty major thing to conceal. [Matthew says: Oh, I kind of read this as Peter taking advantage of a social system where everybody blindly assumes everybody follows the only rule they have. Yep, he’s a clever one.]
Will and Al continue to fight, and eventually ask the very reasonable question of when the hell the fight is over. Eric (the evil Dauntless leader) and Four (the sexy Dauntless leader) argue over whether or not it’s a fight till someone is knocked out and/or someone surrenders.
“A brave man acknowledges the strength of others,” Four replies.
“A brave man never surrenders.”
Four and Eric stare at each other for a few seconds. I feel like I am looking at two different kinds of Dauntless—the honorable kind, and the ruthless kind.
That sounds pretty fucking divergent to me. I don’t like the smell of this, y’all. [Matthew says: Just in case Tris didn’t spell out the subtle themes enough for you with “I am looking at two different kinds of Dauntless”, she elaborates further:
Even I know that in this room, it’s Eric, the youngest leader of the Dauntless, who has the authority.
Yeah, of course you know that, Tris. It’s really easy to know what’s going on when people TELL YOU.]
Al winds up knocking Will out, and Four takes Will to the infirmary.
Four leaving makes me nervous. Leaving us with Eric is like hiring a babysitter who spends his time sharpening knives.
So he’s…negligent? Uninterested? Murderous? Starting a cooking class? [Matthew says: Doesn’t like cheese?]
Next is Molly vs. Christina, and I really liked this sc
ene. Not because Christina gets the shit beaten out of her, but because it’s actually intense, and it had moments like this:
She punches Molly in the ear, knocking her off-balance, and wriggles free. She comes to her knees, holding her face with one hand. The blood streaming from her nose is thick and dark and covers her fingers in seconds. She screams again and crawls away from Molly. I can tell by the heaving of her shoulders that she’s sobbing, but I can barely hear her over the throbbing in my ears.
Christina surrenders, which Eric doesn’t like at all. He forces a severely weakened Christina to hang onto the ledge over the river. This is all in the pit (aka Dauntless headquarters), so if you are still feeling like you’re on another Host cave tour with Uncle Jeb, I’m with you.
Al is the only one to encourage Christina, and Tris feels pretty guilty about this. It’s another solid scene, and even though I wind up absolutely hating Al later (sorry, spoilers), this scene really made me like him.
Christina swings her arm, fumbling for the railing. No one else cheers her on, but Al brings his big hands together and shouts, his eyes holding hers. I wish I could; I wish I could move, but I just stare at her and wonder how long I have been this disgustingly selfish.
This scene just nails that miserable, horrible feeling of not being able to help someone because you’re terrified yourself. If Tris helps Christina, she risks getting kicked out of Dauntless (being factionless – the horror!), but if Christina falls, Tris loses her friend, someone who has already made her feel safer in a scary situation. [Matthew says: Same. I forgot I was reading a book for the blog during this scene! Until someone said “Faction” again, and then I snapped back to reality with a sad, sorrowful laugh.]
She makes it, though, and Al and Tris help Christina climb back over the rail, thus solidifying their friendships.
You know, until the chapter where Al has to become the Jacob of this series.
But first we need to establish what an absolute piece of shit Peter is. He spray-paints the word “stiff” all over Tris’ bed. Tris reasonably points out that unless she’s missed something, she hasn’t done anything to offend this dude. But he’s just a mean, nasty person.
Al comes over and helps Tris strip her bedding and tells her not to let Peter get to her. He’s working up to his Jacob-ness, don’t you worry.
The next day, it’s back to teenage fight club (Travis Maddox was pissed he didn’t get the invite), and of course Tris is up against Peter because who else would it be?
Al and Christina’s comforting words basically consist of, “Maybe you’ll get knocked out quickly.” Tris is wounded by her friends’ complete and utter lack of confidence in her. But what they don’t know is that she is divergent as fuck and will preva – oh wait she gets her ass kicked while Four looks on with concern and then eventually storms out? God damn it.
Tris friends are there when she wakes up in the hospital, and now it’s time for Al to start acting Jacob as fuck.
“And don’t pay attention to Christina. Your face doesn’t look that bad.” He smiles a little. “I mean, it looks good. It always looks good. I mean—you look brave. Dauntless.”
His eyes skirt mine, and he scratches the back of his head. The silence seems to grow between us. It was a nice thing to say, but he acts like it meant more than just the words. I hope I am wrong. I could not be attracted to Al—I could not be attracted to anyone that fragile. I smile as much as my bruised cheek will allow, hoping that will diffuse the tension.
As much as I don’t like Al after finishing the book, I still find this scene really off-putting. It’s totally fine not to be attracted to him, but fragile? During his fight scene last chapter she compared him to a grizzly bear. I get that she heard him crying the other night, but this seems like the wrong word and weirdly mean. [Matthew says: I’m in agreement with Ariel that this scene tries a little too hard to eradicate Tris’s potential romantic interest when a simple “I’m not interested” would do. BUT I do like how it fleshes out Tris a little more as kind of shallow and self-centered, but in a believable way as opposed to, as we call it in the industry, a House of Night way.]
Al does go onto explain that he’s intentionally losing fights now so he doesn’t have to hurt anyone, but again, not really fragile so much as not a horrible person. [Matthew says: New biggest mystery is why the hell did Al choose Dauntless.]
They start talking about whether or not they think their families will come visit them on Visiting Day, and Tris thinks about what Visiting Day would look like if she’d stayed in Abnegation:
In less than a week, the Abnegation initiates will be able to visit their families for the first time since the Choosing Ceremony. They will go home and sit in their living rooms and interact with their parents for the first time as adults.
I used to look forward to that day. I used to think about what I would say to my mother and father when I was allowed to ask them questions at the dinner table.
I can’t even begin to imagine what thrilling Abnegation questions she’d finally be able to ask. “How was your day?” “Did you enjoy the weather?” [Matthew says: Ariel, they’re not allowed to enjoy the weather. That would be self-centered.]
Tris refuses to cry about missing her family and the pain she’s in physically, and she forces herself to go back to the dorms so Peter won’t have the satisfaction of putting her in the hospital overnight. Go girl!
Were any of you total Peters as a kid, and if so please provide proof in the form of an anecdote.