Previously, Tris won Capture the Flag/Dauntless Paintball/Vampire Baseball. And possibly Four’s heart. Okay, definitely Four’s heart.
There’s no more time for fun and games, now it’s time for some badass knife throwing with our favourite knife-sharpening babysitter Eric:
“Tomorrow will be the last day of stage one,” Eric says. “You will resume fighting then. Today, you’ll be learning how to aim. Everyone pick up three knives.” His voice is deeper than usual. “And pay attention while Four demonstrates the correct technique for throwing them.
Tris and Christina note that Eric seems to be in an extra bad mood today.
Judging by the poisonous look Eric gives Four when he isn’t paying attention, last night’s loss must have bothered Eric more than he let on. Winning capture the flag is a matter of pride, and pride is important to the Dauntless. More important than reason or sense.
People like Eric (and apparently most of Dauntless?) are just the worst. He’s like that guy who relives his high school glory days like, “I remember when I was quarterback and won the game against our rival school!” Except he’ll be like, “This badass game of capture the flag was amazing!!! Go Dauntless!!!” I’m not sure who the Dauntless mascot would be, but they’d probably force him to jump from stupid heights in a massive costume just to prove he was the most badass mascot. [Matthew says: So a lemming? We’ve somehow reached the point where we’ve decided that the best Dauntless mascot would be a lemming.]
Abnegation’s mascot would clearly be Eeyore, no question.
As the initiates practice their knife throwing skills (or lack thereof), incredibly lame banter is exchanged.
“Hey, Stiff! Remember what a knife is?”
Ignoring him, I practice the throw again with a knife in hand but don’t release it. I shut out Eric’s pacing, and Peter’s jeering, and the nagging feeling that Four is staring at me, and throw the knife. It spins end over end, slamming into the board. The blade doesn’t stick, but I’m the first person to hit the target.
I smirk as Peter misses again. I can’t help myself.
“Hey, Peter,” I say. “Remember what a target is?”
[Matthew says: My favorite part of this scene is how, on top of his defeat, Eric has to listen to these goddamn teenagers exchange terrible insults first thing in the morning.]
More shitty banter ensues when Al gets on Eric’s bad side and is forced to stand in front of a target while Four throws knifes around his head. [Matthew says: Remember, everybody wanted to be here, for some reason.] Tris, of course, volunteers as tribute in Al’s place. It’s not that I don’t like, in fact Tris makes a great point about how that doesn’t prove you’re brave. It’s just the fact that Veronica Roth isn’t even trying to write witty banter:
“There goes your pretty face,” hisses Peter. “Oh, wait. You don’t have one.”
As Four throws knifes at Tris, he tries to get her to let someone else take her place. And then when she refuses, he purposefully nicks her ear. This scene has always annoyed me because it feels like yet another book where the male love interest has to show that he’s right or prove a point.
“You did that on purpose!” I shout.
“Yes, I did,” he says quietly. “And you should thank me for helping you.”
I grit my teeth. “Thank you? You almost stabbed my ear, and you spent the entire time taunting me. Why should I thank you?”
“You know, I’m getting a little tired of waiting for you to catch on!”
I still don’t know what Tris is supposed to catch onto. The fact that he’s on her side? The fact that he’s right? The fact that he wants to bone her? All of the above? [Matthew says: Whoa whoa whoa- all of the above? That sounds… DIVERGENT!]
Before walking away, Four is like, “If I wanted to hurt you, don’t you think I would have already?”
I guess we’re supposed to be like, “Oh, snap,” but writing snappy dialogue does not seem to be Roth’s strong suit this chapter. Just have Tris keep pointing out how little sense the Dauntless make. That was working well this chapter.
Tris wakes up and informs us that it’s the day before visiting day, which means that’s what Matt gets to write about tomorrow! [Matthew says: Because I always get the “parents visit their kids at school” chapters.] She also informs us that she has muscles now even though she’s been in Dauntless training for only a few days now. [Matthew says: This teenager found this one weird trick to build muscle fast! Doctors hate her! Actually, wait, hasn’t Tris just been getting the shit beaten out of her this whole time? Not only did she build all this muscle in no time, she did it by not exercising.]
A really creepy scene ensues where Human Dingleberry Peter leers at Tris, and she knows something nasty is about to go down. [Matthew says: Surprise! It’s the obligatory sexual assault scene! Every story must have one because REALISM!]
“Didn’t realize you were so skinny, Stiff.”
“Get away from me.” My voice is somehow steady.
“This isn’t the Hub, you know. No one has to follow a Stiff’s orders here.” His eyes travel down my body, not in the greedy way that a man looks at a woman, but cruelly, scrutinizing every flaw. I hear my heartbeat in my ears as the others inch closer, forming a pack behind Peter.
This will be bad.
I have to get out of here.
Henchwoman Molly starts pointing out that Tris looks like a child, and Henchman Drew says they should have a look under her towel. When Tris is trying to escape the room, of course one of them pulls her towel off. Ashamed, Tris runs to the bathroom and hides. Don’t worry, she was holding a dress when she ran out of the room, so she’s not trapped in a weird sitcom trope or anything like that.
I’ll talk a bit more about this in the future, but one of my favourite things about this book was how Roth plays on Tris physical weaknesses while also emphasising her power (note: I will not say her power comes from being Divergent because shut the fuck up). Tris is clever, but because of her physical constraints, she often has to rely on other people and even uses this to her advantage in the book. What I like most about Tris isn’t that she is a genius or has inexplicable physical prowess. She knows how to work with what she has and uses it to gain an advantage against shitty people like the Douchebag Squad.
I completely believed that this scene would be a moment where Tris decides that she wants to fuck these people up, and I’m with her. [Matthew says: Me too! Tris came out all “I want to make them feel pain” and I was all “Yeah! A character’s going to get their shit rocked and it’s finally someone I’m SUPPOSED to want to see get their shit rocked!”]
Later, more fighting. Tris wants to fight against Peter again, but she has to settle for Henchwoman Molly instead.
Molly stands across from me.
“Was that a birthmark I saw on your left butt cheek?” she says, smirking. “God, you’re pale, Stiff.”
She’ll make the first move. She always does.
My note when I first read this: I can already tell this is going to be the most satisfying scene ever – I just want Tris to beat the ever loving shit out of Molly. I want it to be like The Fight Club scene where Ed Norton beats the shit out of Jared Leto’s face. [Matthew says: Oh my God, Ariel, why are you psychic? I looked for that gif for tomorrow’s post for forever.]
I agree Ariel of the past, I agree.
Tris elbows Molly in the fucking face. YEAH!
Molly gets some hits in too, but I don’t care.
As she gasps, I sweep-kick her legs out from under her, [Matthew says: This scene is fucking awesome, but when the shit did Tris learn how to do a sweep-kick?] and she falls hard on the ground, sending dust into the air. I pull my foot back and kick as hard as I can at her ribs.
My mother and father would not approve of my kicking someone when she’s down.
Well no fucking shit, Tris. Your parents didn’t approve of you asking a question at the dinner table, so why on Earth would we think that they’d approve of you “kicking someone when she’s down” let alone kicking them in the first place? Literally no one reading this book (or this blog) was thinking, “You know what, I know we’ve read that Abnegation doesn’t approve of artwork or mirrors or dinner table conversation, but what about kicking?”
I pull my foot back again, but Four’s hands clamp around my arms, and he pulls me away from her with irresistible force. I breathe through gritted teeth, staring at Molly’s blood-covered face, the color deep and rich and beautiful, in a way.
Fuck off, Four! Molly is getting what is coming to her, and you are ruining it for all of us! Tris is being weird and creepy about Molly’s bloody face, it’s awesome!
“I’m fine,” I say. “I’m fine now,” I say again, this time for myself.
I wish I could say I felt guilty for what I did.
Before this scene I still thought Tris was basically a human Wanderer from The Host, but in this scene I realized she was so much more! [Matthew says: She’s a human Wanderer from The Host, except she also kind of wants to kill people! She’s the Seeker! Wait, that’s not better. Let me think about this.]
Given we all weren’t sure about whether or not Abnegations could kick people, down or not, what burning questions do you have about each faction and what they can or can’t do?