Divergent Takes a Break From Being Divergent to be Fifty Shades: Divergent Chapters 22 & 23

"shirtless christian grey"

When we left off, Tris had been grabbed in the night by Peter and, gasp, Al! And some other douchebags! Luckily, Four shows up and they run away because of course Four had to save Tris. It couldn’t have been, like Christina or Will. [Matthew says: Only love interests have powers of convenient timing and/or teleportation. We learned this lesson way back in Fifty Shades of Grey. We were so young!]

Chapter 22

Remember in Fifty Shades when Christian rescues Ana from Jose’s unwanted advances and then takes her back to his hotel room? This chapter is basically that scene but with Tris, Four and a glaring lack of divine orange juice (missed opportunity to make chocolate cake the new divine orange juice. Nothing is sexier than waking up after a night of terror to some delicious Dauntless chocolate cake.) [Matthew says: You kind of have to take my word for this, but I added my own joke comparing this to that same chapter of Fifty Shades before I read Ariel’s joke here. We both saw it working independently, so… my, isn’t this a common trope? Between erotic fiction and dystopian young adult, even?]

I open my eyes to the words “Fear God Alone” painted on a plain white wall.

For murky reasons, I ran a quick Google search on this phrase, and all the top search results are Divergent related. I bet God is pretty annoyed by Google’s algorithms right now. [Matthew says: Same thing happens when you google “Faction”, although I bet God would be more nonplussed about that one.]

I have only one memory of getting here, and even that is just a single image: black ink curling around the side of a neck, the corner of a tattoo, and the gentle sway that could only mean he was carrying me.

Hey, you can’t just rule out magic carpet rides to easily, Tris! Your memory sounds pretty shaky at best.

Four has some cuts and scrapes on him, and he tells Tris he caught one of the guys (Drew) and beat him up. Drew claimed that they were just trying to scare Tris, but Four heavily implies that he’s beaten Drew up so badly that he couldn’t quite make out what Drew was saying. Granted, this guy was a shitbag, but is anyone else having Travis Maddox flashbacks? [Matthew says: Or Christian Grey flashbacks? Or Gideon Cross flashbacks? Or… sigh, this is why we have the patriarchy…]

Tris and Four stop channeling Fifty Shades and Beautiful/Walking Disaster in order to have a really interesting conversation about how Tris needs to start acting differently in order to have her other transfer friends protect her.

Peter has accused Tris of already doing this, so I love that now she realizes why this is sort of necessary for her survival to actually start doing.

“I suggest you rely on your transfer friends to protect you from now on,” he says.
“I thought I was,” I say. I feel Al’s hand against my mouth again, and a sob jolts my body forward. I press my hand to my forehead and rock slowly back and forth. “But Al…”
“He wanted you to be the small, quiet girl from Abnegation,” Four says softly. “He hurt you because your strength made him feel weak. No other reason.”

There are so many interesting things at play here. For me, the most interesting is the idea that Tris’ alleged friends care about her and want to protect her as long as they believe she’s genuinely weak and needs them. As soon as she shows any of the strength within her (like when she wins the capture the flag game and Christina totally fucks her over by being the one to actually capture said flag), they are so quick to turn on her.

This reminds me of a lot of high school friendships I had and the way I used to navigate them, sometimes intentionally, sometimes not. I was always much quicker to talk about my flaws, weaknesses, struggles with guys/body image etc because your friends tend to rally with you and try to build you up or commiserate with you if they’re in the same position. In Tris’ case when she’s the weakest of the lot, everyone wants to encourage her (see the scene where she’s about to face off against Peter or Molly and her friends are sympathetic.)

Your best friends are the ones who genuinely want to see you happy and who are happy with you no matter what their own personal set of circumstances currently are (unless it’s like really fucking bad circumstances they’re dealing with. Not like ‘oh I didn’t get asked out by the guy I like.’). Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who can’t separate that out, but in a high stakes situation like this, it’s more understandable.

Four sums it up really well:

The others won’t be as jealous if you show some vulnerability. Even if it isn’t real.

Tris annoyingly is like, “Omg you mean you think I’m strong and that I don’t have to pretend to be vulnerable?” Oh, please, Tris. Not this nonsense we have to see in every fucking book we read here. PRO WRITING TIP (sorry for stealing your joke, Matt, but this is fucking important): A female protagonist is allowed to have some fucking confidence before her boyfriend instills it in her.

Tris says that they “almost” touched her “like that”, and Four gets protective and tells Tris she needs to “ruin them.” This is annoying, but at least they didn’t actually attempt to rape her because I wouldn’t have probably just taken a dump on the book at that point. Tris already had enough motive to ruin these dudes without adding almost-not-quite-bad-touching.

“I laugh shakily. “You’re a little scary, Four.”
“Do me a favor,” he says, “and don’t call me that.”
“What should I call you, then?”
“Nothing.” He takes his hand from my face. “Yet.”

-_-

Well that seems like an invitation for me to call him Turd Master Flex until further notice.

Chapter 23

Four sleeps on the floor and I sleep on his bed, on top of the quilt, breathing in the scent of his pillowcase. It smells like detergent and something heavy, sweet, and distinctly male.

It’s definitely semen. What? We were all thinking it. She never specifically said it wasn’t semen!

And now it’s time for the obligatory scene where the female protagonist muses over how innocent/young male protagonist looks whilst sleeping. I think there’s clearly some sort of law that a writer will get punched in the face if they don’t include this scene in a book where two characters fall in love. OMG I FORGOT TO SAY THAT HE IS SO INNOCENT AND BEAUTIFUL WHEN HIS EYES ARE CLOSED, PLEASE DON’T PUNCH ME!

Tris wonders deep things about who Four really is:

Who is he when he isn’t Dauntless, isn’t an instructor, isn’t Four, isn’t anything in particular?

What does that even mean? You can totally say things like, “Who is he when he’s alone/what’s he like in bed/what’s he like as a boyfriend/who is he when Dominos delivers his pizza an hour late.” Like those are totally valid questions, but asking who someone is when he “isn’t anything in particular” is like asking what is bread when it’s not food. It makes no damn sense! [Matthew says: You never really know someone until they’re who they are when they accidentally get guacamole on their Chipotle burrito, or when they’re not anything in particular.]

Divergent‘s inner Fifty Shades (or should I say inner goddess? No, no I shouldn’t. I apologize.) comes back out to play when Four comes out of the shower. Again, I’m sure there’s an obscure law that states an author must include a scene where the male protagonist comes out of the shower or is shirtless for some other reason, and the female protagonist admires his body or fifty lashes for said author!

I tie my hair in a knot at the back of my head. The door opens and Four walks in, a towel in hand and his hair glistening with shower water. I feel a thrill in my stomach when I see the line of skin that shows above his belt as he lifts his hand to dry his hair and force my eyes up to his face.

"shirtless christian grey"

We interrupt this moment to bring you mentions of cake:

Every muscle in my body tightens as his hand drops to my side, where I got kicked. He does it casually, but I can’t move.
“And your side?” he asks, his voice low.
“Only hurts when I breathe.”
He smiles. “Not much you can do about that.”
“Peter would probably throw a party if I stopped breathing.”
“Well,” he says, “I would only go if there was cake.”

[Matthew says: Okay, readers. Time to start placing bets on how long until Ariel or I have the perfect opportunity for an obvious “The cake is a lie” joke.]

The next day, Tris follows Four’s instructions and acts very vulnerable as she tells her friends what happened last night. They’re all like, “Omg gasp Al was part of the group! He’s been acting so different since we met him ten minutes ago, it’s crazy.”

Tris lies and says she’s not sure who saved her because I guess it would be showing favouritism to defend her from death…?

Everyone agrees that they’re going to protect Tris. This prompts an apology from Christina:

“I never really said I was sorry,” Christina says quietly. “For taking the flag when you earned it. I don’t know what was wrong with me.”

Yeah, suddenly it’s super easy to apologize when you feel sorry for Tris, huh, Christina?

Tris completely gets this, and has some really interesting thoughts about the situation:

I’m not sure if it’s smart to forgive her or not—to forgive either of them, after what they said to me when the rankings went up yesterday. But my mother would tell me that people are flawed and I should be lenient with them. And Four told me to rely on my friends.

I don’t know who I should rely on more, because I’m not sure who my true friends are. Uriah and Marlene, who were on my side even when I seemed strong, or Christina and Will, who have always protected me when I seemed weak?”

I personally am a bigger fan of Uriah and Marlene (Dauntless born initiates who Tris has befriended). They’ve also been here this whole scene, BTW. Surprise! Knowing this doesn’t change the scene at all, though, so it’s not very exciting as far as surprises go, but I tried.

Later, Four explains that the final stage of initiation is the Fear Landscape, which is as ridiculous as it sounds.

Through your simulations, we have stored data about your worst fears. The fear landscape accesses that data and presents you with a series of virtual obstacles. Some of the obstacles will be fears you previously faced in your simulations. Some may be new fears. The difference is that you are aware, in the fear landscape, that it is a simulation, so you will have all your wits about you as you go through it.

[Matthew says: Basically, it’s the exact same thing we’ve already been seeing! Except it’s different. Much like this book.]

Peter whines about how it’s not fair if someone has one fear and another person has twenty. Four wisely responses that this is the first time that Peter has expressed interest in fairness and that it’s clear that he’s scared “of a short, skinny girl from Abnegation.” Everyone laughs at what a stupid dick Peter is.

"They have no idea how stupid they are"

At the end of the chapter, Al tries to apologize to Tris, but she tells him that if he comes near her again she’ll kill him. Al cries a lot, which is something none of us needed to see.

I’m really curious, what do you guys think about Tris needing to show vulnerability/being sort of forced to emphasise her weaknesses in order to gain sympathy? I had mixed feelings, but I fall on the side of liking it at this point, so convince me otherwise if you totally hate it. Convictions = lol.

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0 comments

  1. blankexpression42 Reply

    i think you missed the boat on the “The cake is a lie” jokes when Tris’ mother said to try the chocolate cake on visiting day.

    as far as needing to seem weak, i honestly couldn’t care less what Tris does. i have female friends who use weaknesses (faux or otherwise) to fish for compliments and seek support. on the other hand, i also have a bunch of other female friends who don’t give a darn about whatever weaknesses they have and just laugh them off.
    i might be inclined to choose which i think she should go with, but it would depend wholly on her personality… and all i’ve gotten of that is that she is divergent as fuck. so here’s a proposition: she’s weak in front of one group and “strong” in front of the other. if this is what ends up happening, i’m really hoping she gets caught and ostracized from both groups.

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    • 22aer22 Reply

      Yeah I think in a non life-threatening position, I would hope both groups realized what an idiot she was, but in this case it’s meant to be about surviving. She can’t just be herself because apparently that’s divergent as fuck (whatever that means), so she has to constantly worry if she’s acting too weak or too strong. That’s gotta be exhausting!

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  2. Bellomy Reply

    Four wisely responses that this is the first time that Peter has expressed interest in fairness and that it’s clear that he’s scared “of a short, skinny girl from Abnegation.”

    This is Four. He suggests that Tris portray herself as weak in front of people. Here he is making her a target in front of the most dangerous person there (besides possibly him)!

    (I get the theory, that he call her short and skinny in front of her friends, but all that line accomplished was to push Peter’s hatred of Tris to the forefront. Which seems counter-productive?)

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    • 22aer22 Reply

      Shit I hadn’t even thought about that, but you’re right. If the book was being consistent, that’s exactly the kind of thing that would just cause Peter to try to stab Tris in the eye. He can’t retaliate against Four for humiliating him, but he sure can try to attack Tris again. Unless the implication is that he’s so scared of Four now, he won’t?

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  3. Kristin Reply

    I’m willing to give the “act weak” thing a chance merely because Tris seems to recognize that it separates her “friends” into real friends v. fake friends merely by how she acts. I only hope that she turns this into an impowerment moment and realizes that being who you really are is more important than acting how your friends want you to.

    I have never read this book, nor have I seen the movie, but I suspect all this has something to do with the Fear Landscape. Perhaps it will be “real” & they only think it’s a simulation ( or some such nonsense)?

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      • 22aer22 Reply

        I don’t mean to be all spoiler-y but that would have been way more interesting, unfortunately doesn’t happen 🙁 But yeah, would have been more interesting!

        I think you’ve made a really good point about this being a way for Tris to see who her real friends are (aka the ones who don’t get all bent out of shape if she succeeds without their help.)

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  4. Taylor Reply

    Well, now I’m going to spend the day wondering what exactly Four might have been doing that resulted in semen ON HIS PILLOW.

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  5. Dana Reply

    I’m not a fan of the “weak” storyline because, as far as I know, Roth never really goes anywhere with it. Christina and the others always stay her good friends. Plus, I don’t know, Tris never comes off as particularly strong or particularly weak to me. She never comes off as “anything in particular” (HA). Seriously, this is first person POV. Couldn’t be there be a little more emotion and personality in the narration? Am I alone in thinking this?

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