Everybody Deletes Tris' Simulation Footage Because That Isn't Suspicious at All: Divergent Chapter 20

For reasons no one, least of all myself, understands, I’ve been watching Gossip Girl on Netflix. I am on teenage overload today what with it being a Divergent day and all. Just like in Gossip Girl, when we left off in Divergent, a drunk teenager flirted with another teenager.

Chapter 20

“It’s just a simulation, Tris,” Four says quietly.
He’s wrong. The last simulation bled into my life, waking and sleeping. Nightmares, not just featuring the crows but the feelings I had in the simulation—terror and helplessness, which I suspect is what I am really afraid of.

So let me get this straight, Tris is afraid of being afraid. The helplessness, sure. But the crows, why the crows?

In this simulation, there are no crows. Instead, the other initiates watch as Tris stands in a glass box and starts to drown as water rises up out of nowhere. Fear not, our Divergent heroine is able to smash the glass and break free of the simulation and the oppressive metaphor she’s trapped inside.

I gasp and sit up. I’m in the chair. I gulp and shake out my hands. Four stands to my right, but instead of helping me up, he just looks at me.
“What?” I ask.
“How did you do that?”
“Do what?”
“Crack the glass.”

Again, I thought in this situation Four was simply supposed to monitor her reactions and keep track of how long it took for Tris to calm down enough to be released from the simulation. I didn’t think he was actually watching her fears. That must actually be an incredibly strange experience, to watch someone else’s simulation. You must become an absolute expert at interpreting stupid unimaginative metaphors.

“He stares at me in silence. He won’t give me information without prompting.
“What?” I demand.
“You’re Divergent,” he replies.

Worst kept secret ever. [Matthew says: Also, worst realization of a secret ever. Love interest boy finding out that the main character has a quality so special that the book was named after it doesn’t even merit a cliched cliffhanger at the end of the chapter, just a frictionless observation at the beginning of one. He figured this life-changing secret out with the same magnitude as when Tris got a haircut.] But Tris’ reaction is hilarious, at least the way I imagine it happening in my head:

I should act casual. I lean back, pressing my shoulders to the wall, and say, “What’s Divergent?”

I know she’s probably actually meant to be saying it in this cool, collected way. But all I can picture is a completely goofy moment where she’s like, “No speak English. What is this…Divergent?”


Four deletes the footage and tells Tris that she needs to be less Divergent as fuck in the next simulation. I have no idea why a non-Divergent person wouldn’t also be able to do what she’s done given they’re all meant to be conquering these fears/simulations in order to prove that they’re worthy of Dauntless. [Matthew says: Is it really a spoiler to reveal that it’s because Tris is too good at it? Because, I mean, she’s the main character of a YA dystopian novel. That’s sort of a given, right?]

Isn’t this like 20th time someone’s had to delete Tris footage? Like okay, Tris, this is the last time I’m deleting your footage because of water damage/electrical problems/a whoopsy daisy. Anyone with half a brain, Divergent or not, would be a fucking moron if they weren’t like, “Oh my lord we already figured out that she’s Divergent, please stop acting like we can’t pull our heads out of our asses long enough to realize you all aren’t completely incapable of handling one girl’s video footage. We just don’t care because she’s still going along with everything Dauntless and causing absolutely no problems anyway.”

I didn’t know that was an act of Divergence.
How did he?

Tris’ question raises an even bigger question. If it’s weird that Four can recognise acts of Divergence, wouldn’t it be equally as weird if other people recognised these acts? Is there some sort of memo that only gets passed around to very specific leaders listing all possible acts of Divergence?

1. If this person is a member of Abnegation and he does not give a delicious homemade blueberry muffin to the first sad Factionless bastard he sees, he is clearly Divergent as fuck and must be treated as such.
2. If this person is a member of Erudite and they have not read the entire A Song of Fire and Ice series, get that threat neutralised immediately.
3. If this person is a member of Amity and she does not play a banjo, watch the fuck out, she is the Divergient of fuckiest.
[Matthew says: 4. If this person is a member of Candor and, um… uh… fuck, which one’s Candor again? They’re Divergent if they’re, um, not afraid of sheets?]

Tris returns to the tattoo parlour to talk to Tori, the woman who previously deleted Tris’ original simulation footage (you know, the legendary footage where she didn’t choose the cheese OR the knife. I really think that would have been a big hit with the Faction leaders given how boring these simulations must be to watch if the same thing happens every time.)

Tris asks Tori what it means to be Divergent (what is thees “Divergent” you speak of?). Don’t worry, we don’t get any satisfying answers.

“Among other things, you…you are someone who is aware, when they are in a simulation, that what they are experiencing is not real,”

…So it’s essentially just someone who has learned how to have a lucid dream. [Matthew says: So remember how “being Divergent” seemed like the most obvious metaphor for a “people can’t be put into your tiny little boxes, MAN” message ever? Welcome to the beginning of it actually being a metaphor for “sometimes people are just inherently better than other people”.]

But wait, there’s more!

"But Wait!"

“Someone who can then manipulate the simulation or even shut it down. And also…” She leans forward and looks into my eyes. “Someone who, because you are also Dauntless…tends to die.”

For a brief moment, I thought this was going to be something medical, like Divergent + Dauntless = brain tumor. But the implication is actually that they’ll kill her. [Matthew says: Honestly, either would have made equal sense in this stupid book.] Tori points out that she destroyed her simulation footage and recorded Tris’ results as Abnegation, so as long as she can keep her secret, there will be no killing. Good thing it’s not getting suspicious at all that all footage of Tris gets deleted!

Tori tells Tris that the same thing happened to her brother who was Divergent.

“Yeah. My bro
ther. He and I both transferred from Erudite, only his aptitude test was inconclusive. On the last day of simulations, they found his body in the chasm. Said it was a suicide. Only my brother was doing well in training, he was dating another initiate, he was happy.” She shakes her head. “You have a brother, right? Don’t you think you would know if he was suicidal?”

It would be pretty awkward if actually Tori had missed the signs that her brother was suicidal:

“Tori, I’m so depressed. This faction system makes no sense! I don’t think I can take another day here even though the chocolate cake is delicious.”
“My brother was the happiest guy alive, Tris. Don’t you think I would have noticed if he wasn’t?”

Apparently this all went down right after her brother mastered the simulations.

“Is that all it is?” I say. “Just changing the simulations?”
“I doubt it,” she says, “but that’s all I know.”

I can’t even believe that Veronica Roth would for a second let anyone (especially Tris) think that being Divergent was just about changing a simulation. It only serves to make an already weak concept appear completely and utterly moronic. Why not simply have Tris say, “Surely it can’t just be about changing a simulation or they wouldn’t murder someone over it?”

“How many people know about this?” I say, thinking of Four. “About manipulating the simulations?”
“Two kinds of people,” she says. “People who want you dead. Or people who have experienced it themselves. Firsthand. Or secondhand, like me.”

Guess I was right about the memo thing. Maybe as a bonus post I’ll write up a list of Divergent qualities to watch out for. I think it’s important we keep track of these Important Things. [Matthew says: So far we have 1) mildly resistant to hallucinations, and 2) either unwilling to make arbitrary “cheese or knife” decisions or lactose intolerant. Dang, it doesn’t look like anything’s connecting these seemingly completely arbitrary total ass-grab qualities! Almost as though Divergence is so poorly conceptualized it could mean anything! WEIRD.]

Four told me he would delete the recording of me breaking the glass. He doesn’t want me dead. Is he Divergent? Was a family member? A friend? A girlfriend?

I guess we needed a subtle reminder that Tris is into Four in case it wasn’t clear enough for everyone.

The chapter ends with Tori warning Tris to be careful and explaining that controlling the simulations is probably just a symptom of something larger (well, I would fucking hope.)

I’m taking submissions for that bonus post about identifying Divergent people. What would you include in the memo that all the faction leaders are clearly getting?



  1. Bellomy Reply

    But wait, if the quality of divergence is meant to detect whether or not you’re going to be a threat to your faction, but despite whatever these simulation things say everybody here is acting as if they could easily be in another faction, and Tris is literally going out of her way NOT to rock the boat and apparently WITH people watching her, how does –

    Suddenly, the sound cuts off, and a scream is stifled. The word “Help!” starts to form in the background before being snuffed out. Soon, Bellomy’s voice comes online again. It sounds happy…too happy….

    Boy, Veronica Roth sure is clever at metaphors! It’s amazing how skillfully and subtly she weaves in these tantalizing clues about the meaning and importance of “Divergence”! I for one will be paying close attention in order to see the mysteries that Roth has presented to the reader in her book resolved successfully!

    • Excerpted from The Stepford Critics, a new novel by Bellomy. Buy it at your local online Amazon website today!
    • 22aer22 Reply

      Hahahah I would like to purchase that book immediately.

      Yeah I’m not sure why they wouldn’t wait until someone is actually starting to rock the boat. Given all Tris wants is to fit into Dauntless you’d think they wouldn’t be concerned about her in the slightest.

  2. Bellomy Reply

    Also, I love that the conclusions Tris draws from “Four doesn’t want me to die”. “Wow, for the first time a boy doesn’t actively want me killed! He must really like me!”

    • 22aer22 Reply

      I know that’s the only way I’ve ever been able to solve the eternal mystery of when a boy likes me.

  3. Dana Reply

    I get the sense that Veronica Roth added the divergence element very early on in the story, just so she would have the mandatory “special snowflake” signifier. Then, as she kept writing, the story began to grow organically away from that plot point, until she remembered it every once in a blue moon and tried to force it back in. “Man, I haven’t mention that divergent thing in a whole chapter. Better throw it in again so people remember how special and important Tris is LOL.”

  4. Kristin Reply

    Wait a minute. What was Tris supposed to do in the simulation? Drown? Because she broke the glass to save herself, she’s Divergent? What else would a Dauntless do in that case?

    • 22aer22 Reply

      I think the implication is that she was meant to take longer to break out of the simulation, like it’s fine if she eventually did, but I don’t get why it was breaking the glass that was a big deal and not how quickly she did it.

  5. cris Reply

    You’re Divergent if you’re Candor and don’t engage in lively debates about what was first: the chicken or the egg. That’s what I’m imagining Candor doing all day.

    • 22aer22 Reply

      Oh yeah they were definitely the ones that wore black and white because they believe everything is black and white and yet still constantly have to be arguing about something. I think they always have to be honest or something too?

      • cris Reply

        Yeah, but honest meaning being totally blunt. Otherwise, they are given the truth serum to spill all their secrets. I think Candor and Amity were thrown in more like an afterthought because 3 factions weren’t enough. And 4 would have been too HP like.

        • 22aer22 Reply

          Yeah these two were really pushing it. Having factions be based off of brains/brawn/bran muffins is bad enough, but to add in bluntness and being nice all the time (which doesn’t seem different enough from being selfless/bran muffins to warrant a separate factions) is so forced and ridiculous.

  6. KayMia Reply

    Divergent people “tend to die”??? Doesn’t everyone die? That should go in the memo, though it is only useful after the fact.

    • 22aer22 Reply

      Man, that would have been a twist, if everyone else was immortal but Divergent people were the only ones who could die. I mean, it would be stupid, but a twist nonetheless.

  7. BamaNerd Reply

    Wait! Four revealed that Tris Is Divergent and no one said anything about chocolate cake!

  8. E.H.Taylor Reply

    (Back… again)

    I don’t get the faction system and the tests. Why have the tests at all if you can simply ignore them and pick your own faction? It’s like those stupid tests given out in high school that tell you what your future career should be. Amusing, but not really relevant since you’re going to pick whatever you want regardless of if it supposedly matches your personality/interests or not.

    If your results say you’re Amity (because you picked the cheese), but you choose Dauntless (because you decided you want the knife to go with the cheese), then are you divergent because you’re supposed to be Dauntless but act more like Amity?

    I do think factions are an interesting concept, but very poorly executed.


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