Remember the Titular Allegiant? Well, the Book Finally Does: Allegiant Chapters 35 & 36

We continue to go through the motions of reading, summarising and critiquing each chapter of Allegiant as though they are distinctive enough to warrant separation. Because we have to finish what we started, damn it. For the greater good.

Allegiant Chapter 35: Tobias

Tobias, employing more of this series’ famous stalling tactics, goes to check in on what’s going on back in the Chicago experiment [Matthew says: How weird is it that the premise of the entire first two books is now a STALLING TACTIC in this one?]:

I find Evelyn first—she is in the lobby of Erudite headquarters, talking in a close huddle with Therese and a factionless man, her second and third in command now that I am gone. I turn up the volume on the microphone, but I still can’t hear anything but muttering.

That’s not how math works. The absence of someone doesn’t suddenly multiply one of the remaining people. Imagine if there were two founders of a company, and one was like, “not only am I the second founder, but also the third, the fourth and the fifth because we don’t have third, fourth and fifth founders.”

[Ariel edit: CallmeIndigo has very rightfully pointed out in the comments that the inconspicuous factionless man is actually probably the third in command, not Therese. I found it very hard to believe that Tobias would have no idea who this person was if he’s suddenly now one of the leaders, but I’m thinking she’s right and that I was in so much of a rush to be doing anything else other than reading this book that I jumped to quickly at a chance to milk even the slightest bit of humor.] 

Cara, who seems to be the character now designated to wander into every scene just to make blandly observational statements of fact like, “It’s interesting you’re watching both your parents given you hate them.” So I guess she’s just being strategically deployed as another way for the narrative to just state obvious things so us common reader folk never have to do any of the hard work for ourselves! You know, hard work like realising that Tobias might have more complicated feelings about his parents than he’d like us to believe. Woah. The mental gymnastics involved with that realisation were exceedingly difficult!

Tobias and Cara notice that the Allegiant are about to attack! So Tobias, who was disgraced like an hour ago, is suddenly commanding the control room about which camera to turn on. Makes sense.

“Hey!” I shout to one of the women at the control room desks. The older one, who always gives me a nasty look when I show up, lifts her head. “Camera twenty-four! Hurry!”

She taps her screen, and everyone milling around the surveillance area gathers around her. People passing by in the hallway stop to see what’s happening, and I turn to Cara.

Nameless Control Desk Woman #1: Damn it, I don’t like this guy, but he gets results! Before he came we were just switching cameras willy-nilly. But not anymore.

Tobias sends Cara to go get the rest of their group of friends, which apparently includes Peter. Because there’s literally no reason he wouldn’t be a valued and trusted part of the team. See look:

Peter says, “Excuse me!” loud enough to make people turn around. When they see who he is, they part for him.

“What’s up?” Peter says to me when he’s closer. “What’s going on?”

What! Why would they part for him “when they see who he is”? Is he notorious for really stinky farts? That is the only justifiable reason for that kind of deference.

And I guess that one chapter where Tobias and Peter had a brief conversation was enough to establish Peter and Tobias as close personal friends?

Anyway, Cara tries to make sense of the plot and does about as good of a job as the rest of us:

“The Allegiant are the enemies of the new enemies, the factionless,”

Not to be confused with the new enemies of the old enemies (Peter?) who are the new new enemies (Nita?). [Matthew says: Why was this even worth pointing out? Aren’t the factionless everyone’s enemies by default? Do we need to wait for every other group to weigh in on whether or not they’re enemies of people who already hate them? Where do the Amity cows and wheat fields stand on this matter?]

Anyway, it looks like people from all the factions (even Amity!) are joining together to attack the factionless. In this case they’re raiding one of their weapon storehouse.

Once again, Cara tries to explain the plot:

“What’s their goal?” Caleb says.

Fuck if any of us know at this point, Caleb.

“The Allegiant are motivated by the desire to return to our original purpose in the city,” Cara says. [Matthew says: In case you forgot in the couple hundred pages since the titular group of characters were last in this story.] “Whether that means sending a group of people outside of it, as instructed by Edith Prior—which we thought was important at the time, though I’ve since learned that her instructions didn’t really matter—or reinstating the factions by force. ”

At this point their motivations are so meaningless that they could say, “They just want to live in a world where they can eat their chocolate cake in peace.” And it would have the same impact.

They continue to watch the fighting, and Tobias even spots Zeke, who was once a minor character in this series, but now he is a minor minor character who is an Allegiant who is an enemy to the new enemy – the factionless!

The chapter ends with Tobias ruminating over the fact that he (and his other friends apparently) still feel like they belong to the world they left behind.

Chapter 36: Tris

This fucking chapter IS JUST TRIS BEING TOLD WHAT HAPPENED IN THE PREVIOUS CHAPTER. In addition to simply re-iterating the previous chapter, Caleb also tells Tris she can find Tobias in the genealogy room, so she goes to find him.

With the clunky heavy-handedness we’ve come to so closely associate this series with, Tris explains to us exactly what Tobias is feeling and how it’s hard for her to comprehend:

I know that Tobias has been watching his parents on the screens, and now he is staring at their names, though there’s nothing in this room he didn’t already know. I was right to say that he was desperate, desperate for a connection to Evelyn, desperate not to be damaged, but I never thought about how those things were connected. I don’t know how it would feel, to hate your own history and to crave love from the people who gave that history to you at the same time. How have I never seen the schism inside his heart? How have I never realized before that for all the strong, kind parts of him, there are also hurting, broken parts?

Tris tells Tobias she doesn’t want to break up, and he’s happy to hear that. So Tris explains love to us:

I used to think that when people fell in love, they just landed where they landed, and they had no choice in the matter afterward. And maybe that’s true of beginnings, but it’s not true of this, now.

I fell in love with him. But I don’t just stay with him by default as if there’s no one else available to me. I stay with him because I choose to, every day that I wake up, every day that we fight or lie to each other or disappoint each other. I choose him over and over again, and he chooses me.

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I have actually never once thought Tris was just staying with Four because she didn’t have any other options, like this has never even been something she or anyone else has had time to wonder between trying to figuring who is the enemy of the week. I feel like this was just chucked in to be an inspiration to teen girls everywhere, and that Veronica Roth missed an opportunity to just add in like 27 PSAs into the mix.

Basically, what I’m trying to say is, thanks so much for existing, chapter 36. You were very necessary and not at all a complete waste of anyone’s time. I learned a lot from you.

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  1. callmeIndigo Reply

    Hesitant as I am to argue in the book’s favor, I think this:
    “talking in a close huddle with Therese and a factionless man, her second and third in command”
    is meant to say that Therese is now the second in command, and the factionless man is now the third in command. But I also don’t remember who Therese is, so I could be wrong.

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    • 22aer22 Reply

      Haha oh my god you’re probably right. I need to stop writing these in the middle of the night. I was like, “Tobias doesn’t even recognize the man so he can’t possibly mean he’s third in command if he’s never had anything to do with them before!” But I guess there is a new third in command on the block who the old third in command was completely unaware of before. YOU JUST CAN’T LOGIC THIS BOOK.

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