Diverging From The Rest of Society
Kitty Wan, Division 3, College freshman #ws18e-s1d3

What would happen if the world became a holding ground where ingenious thoughts were shunned and conformity was valued? Veronica Roth’s Divergent explores a dystopian world that takes place in the futuristic city of Chicago after a cataclysmic event shatters the previous landscape and social order. In this dystopian world, the population is divided into five factions: Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless, and Erudite. At the age of sixteen, teenagers complete an aptitude test that essentially assigns them to a faction. Each faction corresponds to a specific sector of the community with their own professional duties. Once they join a faction, individuals suppress their preferences and hide disparities in order to conform to the faction’s values. However, the main protagonist and heroine of Divergent, Tris Prior, sticks out from the rest of the citizens and chooses not to conform to their strict policies. She is a valiant, analytical young woman who saves her community from the brink of disaster. Thus, if I choose to be any character, it would be Tris Prior because of her curiosity to break from traditional customs, her bravery and her ability to stray away from societal expectations.

Tris’s curiosity is what makes her stand out from the rest of her monastic and government-regulated community. Unlike the others, she questions everything. Before her aptitude test, she begins to have some stirring thoughts about her role in Abnegation. Originally from a faction that preaches selflessness and benevolence, she senses that she belongs in a different faction where she could express herself differently. While Tris is ostracized by her faction, her family appear to be ideal Abnegation citizens. Adding to her inner turmoil, she is drawn to Dauntless, the faction that consists of fearless, military-like officials who spend their days scaling buildings and hurling themselves out of moving trains. Her attraction to that particular faction exemplifies her curiosity. While most would not dare to switch factions, Tris’s curiosity overpowers her thoughts, which is an indication that she will break out of the suppressing culture. After taking the exam, the aptitude test labels her as “Divergent,” which reaffirms that she does not belong in Abnegation. People labeled as “Divergent” are thought to be dangerous individuals who stray from the narrow paths of society. Her divergence evokes an innate sense of curiosity. Finding this prospect alarming, Tris struggles to decide whether to stay with Abnegation or to move to Dauntless. As she walks home from the test center, she encounters a man who is factionless, an undesirable position that is excluded from the prideful social caste system. Tris’s encounter serves as a reminder that those who fail to conform, whether by choice or lack of qualification, are destined to live harrowing lives. Despite the daunting consequences, Tris’s inquisition ultimately contributes to her final verdict, and she secures a spot in Dauntless. While she does acknowledge the ramifications of choosing Dauntless, she also recognizes that the inconclusive test has given her a choice to live a meaningful path of life.
Tris’s bravery and her ability to overcome harsh obstacles is a memorable characteristic that is prevalent throughout her journey. Her acts of bravery begin when she decides to leave everything she has ever known to start a new career. At sixteen, her initiation into Dauntless is a symbolic event that displays her transition away from childhood. She leaves her parents behind and immerses herself in an unknown world. Throughout Dauntless training, Tris’s responses exemplify her prolific and shrewd character. During the Dauntless initiation, Tris grants free reign to her curious impulses, a characteristic that resonates with me. Even though she is initially nervous and inexperienced, she is not frightened by the training’s elaborate stunts. In fact, she is the first recruit to leap seven stories down into the Dauntless compound. In contrast to Abnegation, Dauntless members are conditioned in an oppressive atmosphere and are threatened with expulsion if they fail. Within a few weeks, she adapts to the strict Dauntless code. At first, Tris struggles to define herself within Dauntless, but as each day passes, she possesses more courage and fearlessness. Along with her mental development, Tris experiences physical changes. Her new, strong muscles are evidence that her body is changing similarly to how her mind is transforming. Ready for any obstacle, Tris shows how courageous and brave she has become over a couple of weeks.

One of Tris’s most defining features is her uniqueness from the rest of her society. She intentionally chooses not to follow societal expectations, opting to let her individuality take control instead. The government labels her as “Divergent,” a quality that epitomizes her differentness in this dystopian world. At the core of her uniqueness is her identity as a “Divergent.” Shortly after training ends, she discovers that the factions of Erudite and Dauntless want to wage war against Abnegation. Her ability to be divergent comes into play many times during the course of her journey. In this instance, she is able to intentionally act naive in order to appear as if she knows nothing of their scheme, which exhibits her ability to pretend to be a stereotypical Dauntless when necessary. Tris discovers why the initiates are trained into ruthless assassins: they have been preparing for an inter-faction war. By transforming the fear hallucination injection into a mind-control serum, the Erudite leaders turn the entire Dauntless faction into an army of brainwashed killers. While the fear hallucinations implemented during training encourage recruits to respond with violence in any scenario, it also helps the Erudite and Dauntless leaders identify Divergent people. At this point, Tris acknowledges the danger of being Divergent: she is immune to the effects of the serum. Unlike other Dauntless recruits, Tris can easily manipulate and escape her fear simulations, which illustrates how the mind-control serums cannot brainwash her. Her ability to rationalize independently prevents her from participating in a bloody uprising, which jeopardizes the Erudite’s plans to seize power. Using this to her advantage, she single-handedly prevents the Erudite from waging war against the Abnegation by deactivating the drives that control people. The identity of being a divergent individual amplifies how her actions save her community from a potential breakout of war. However, by accomplishing such a great feat, it also showcases that she embraces both her Abnegation roots and her Dauntless pride, making her uniquely divergent from the rest of the city.

Veronica Roth creates a role model that showcases how the younger generation should respond to adversity. While Tris’s situation is far more treacherous than our current lives, we can take away a huge part of her journey. By creating the whole idea of “Divergent” people, a breed of humans who have an independent state-of-mind, Roth reiterates that we should embrace our differences regardless of the ‘assigned’ religions and beliefs that we have aligned ourselves with. Regardless if we are Democrat or Republican, I believe that we should all be able to unite as a nation, especially when our country is facing international or civil unrest. I support the idea of cultivating our differences and imperfections because it not only maintains a sense of diversity, but it also perpetuates creativity in this era. We need someone who will not only display courageous acts but will also do so in a selfless manner.
In addition, I would want to be Tris Prior because she is a typical teenager who fosters the idea of tenacity, dauntlessness and individuality. Her ideals contrast with the celebrities that our younger generation glorifies and obsesses over. In fact, celebrities are a menace to society, promoting heinous topics such as drugs and sexual behavior in their deplorable activities and infelicitous music. Ultimately, Tris is a normal girl who does not know what she wants to do in life but is put in a situation where her abilities save humankind.

Tris Prior embodies the ideal heroine in a postmodern society. Not only does she defy the conformities that are standardized by the government, but she also engages in a series of altercations that ultimately save the futuristic city from another calamitous disaster. To me, Tris emcompasses three primary characteristics that represent a heroine: bravery, curiosity and individuality. After defeating the Erudite officials, it is clear that Tris combines the two main impulses that defined her: Abnegation and Dauntless. In multiple scenarios, she selects a course of action that requires both generosity and gallantry. The start of war is the ultimate evaluation of her integrity, and even in a savage environment, she responds with an act of selflessness followed by a feat of courage. Tris is a strong protagonist who takes action instead of dwelling on her fears. Ultimately, her character in Divergent is one that resonates with me. If I had a choice to be a character, I would choose to emulate Tris Prior.
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