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Divergent Theme of Fear

Courage may be what the Dauntless are known, but in reality, they're more focused on fear. for Throughout Divergent, we see the characters questioning the nature of bravery and fear: Is true courage fighting someone or stepping up to protect someone? Is fear something you can leave behind or something you have to overcome every time? Eventually Tris comes to realize that bravery isn't about getting tattoos—it's about standing up for what she believes in: "ordinary acts of bravery" (16.136). And thanks to the Dauntless initiation method—which involves lots of "facing your fears"—we get to see a lot of what Tris is afraid of.

Questions About Fear

  1. What fears do you have (living in the 21st century—or wherever you are, time traveler accessing this Shmoop page) that Tris and her friends don't?
  2. What character do you think deals with their fear best and how do they do so? Is there a lesson about how we should deal with our fears? In other words, is this secretly a self-help book?
  3. Are fears more useful than dangerous? Or more dangerous than useful? Do fears lead people into acting stupidly? Do we see any examples of this in the novel?
  4. Is there a difference between the ways specific fears are dealt with vs. general fears? (For instance, Four's fear of his dad is very specific—it's not about dads in general; but Tris's fears about not being in control are pretty general—there are lots and lots of times when she could lose control.)

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