Study Guide

Divergent

Divergent Summary

The super super short, Tweetable plot summary is: "Young woman in weird future leaves her family for exciting life, learns it's hard, and ruins villain's plan to destroy government." Huzzah. 130 characters—and they said it couldn't be done.

The longer, but still short summary goes a little something like this: Beatrice Prior lives in a future version of Chicago where there are five distinct factions. Each faction thinks one virtue is best: Dauntless think bravery is keen, Erudite love knowledge, Abnegation is pro-self-sacrifice, Amity hearts friendship, and Candor is into telling it like it is. Beatrice grew up in an Abnegation family. But when she turns 16, she decides to join Dauntless—partly because they're cool (tattoos, piercing, leather jackets, love of Wuthering Heights); partly because she doesn't feel selfless enough to be a good Abnegation; and partly because her test result showed that she was Divergent, meaning she doesn't really fit in with any one faction.

But joining Dauntless isn't just about showing up and saying "take me." All the initiates have to train and compete to get into the faction. Along the way, Beatrice takes a new nickname—Tris—and meets a range of people. There are new friends like Al, Will, and Christina; new enemies like Peter and his evil minions; and new teachers, like the scary Eric and the hot Four. Tris has to compete to get into Dauntless, all while hiding that she's really Divergent. There's blood, violence, and some kissing (between her and Four). So, pretty much the usual high school experience.

Then, Tris figures out that the Erudite faction wants to overthrow the Abnegation government. And they're going to do so by mind-controlling the Dauntless army. But Tris doesn't get brainwashed (because she's Divergent), so she destroys the villain's plan, and rescues everyone. Except for her mom and dad, who die to help her. Bonus: the book ends with the city in complete chaos, so it's time to pick up the sequel.

  • Chapter 1

    • We start Divergent by meeting Beatrice Prior, who has no Nintendo and only one mirror in her house—and that mirror is usually hidden. So we pretty much already know this is a terrible world. One we want no part of.
    • Beatrice was born into the Abnegation faction, and though her family—mom, dad, slightly older brother Caleb—totally rock the Abnegation lifestyle, Beatrice isn't so great at it.
    • As a 16-year old, Beatrice will take a test to show what faction she belongs in and then be able to choose her faction. Forever. So, no pressure.
    • Beatrice and Caleb take the bus to school, while brave and crazy Dauntless kids take the trains that never stop.
    • Before the faction aptitude tests, we get to see some kids ignore Beatrice—she doesn't have any friends—or bully her because she belongs to Abnegation. It's nice to know that, even after some disaster, schools haven't run out of bullies.
    • Before class, Beatrice watches the Dauntless kids jump off the train, as she does every day. Maybe she likes their tattoos and piercings?
  • Chapter 2

    • Then we get the Sorting Hat moment. No, we mean, then we get the aptitude test to see what faction each person belongs in. Actually, the aptitude test isn't like Harry Potter's Sorting Hat because the aptitude test only tells you what faction you'd best fit. But then the "choice" is still yours—you can take the advice of the aptitude test or not.
    • The tests are private, so no one gets to see how you do; and also secret, in that you don't start sharing your results right after. (Not like usual tests, then.)
    • Beatrice nervously waits for her turn. Though she was born into an Abnegation family, she doesn't feel that she totally belongs.
    • Beatrice meets Tori from Dauntless, who will run the aptitude test on her.
    • The test goes on in a virtual reality where Beatrice faces several challenges, each of which has a few solutions. 
    • For instance, she faces a dangerous dog: does she try to make friends by giving it cheese (which will not be good for whoever has to clean up after the dog later), does she attack it with a knife, or does she show her book-learning by playing submissive so it won't attack her?
    • So she goes through a series of challenges and discovers that she is… (please turn to Chapter 3).
  • Chapter 3

    • … Actually, Beatrice's test results are confusing to Tori. Beatrice panics about the possibility of being factionless. (If you thought living like Beatrice in a house with only one mirror was hard, try living in no house at all.)
    • But finally Tori tells her that the test was unclear. Instead of telling what faction she should belong to, the test gave three possible answers: Abnegation, Dauntless, and Erudite.
    • Which means that Beatrice is Divergent, which means she's in the right book. It also means Beatrice gets to leave school early to try to work through her dilemma: what faction to choose?
    • Tori tells her to keep her Divergence super secret because it's super dangerous. We guess they're not about nonconformity in dystopian Chicago.
    • On her way home, Beatrice goes through the factionless part of the city, which is sad. (Sure are a lot of factionless around this chapter.)
    • Beatrice has a slightly alarming experience with a hungry factionless man, who grabs her arm and tells her she isn't so pretty. So, that's a fun end to a weird day.
  • Chapter 4

    • Back in the boring, every-house-is-the-same Abnegation neighborhood, Beatrice thinks about where she belongs. She wishes she could belong, like her brother Caleb and the neighbor Susan that he flirts with (which is pretty hard when you're always wearing plain gray clothes. Imagine: "You look nice today in that gray outfit… that you wear all the time.").
    • Caleb and Beatrice cook dinner together. Then Beatrice has to lie to her parents about how well the test went. The lying turns out to be easier than the test.
    • But Beatrice isn't the only one who had a hard day: Beatrice's dad works in government and his coworker Marcus has been having a rough time at work lately because the Erudite leader Jeanine Matthews released a mean report about Abnegation.
    • The report said that Marcus's son Tobias left Abnegation for Dauntless because Marcus was abusive.
    • Here's where we learn that not all is well in future Chicago: Erudite has been badmouthing Abnegation for a while, as it turns out.
    • And on top of that, for the first time ever, Caleb says something to Beatrice about thinking about themselves. So, quite an exciting day—too exciting for us.
  • Chapter 5

    • After the aptitude test yesterday, today is the Choosing Ceremony where the 16-year olds actually get to choose their faction. (The ceremony is held at the Hub, which we used to call Sears Tower, though now it's called Willis Tower, which is probably what brought on the disaster that led to Beatrice's world.)
    • And just to remind us what Abnegation is all about, all the Abnegation folk take the stairs so that others can take the elevator. 
    • At the ceremony, each 16-year old gets cut and puts some blood in a bowl symbolizing one of the factions: the bowls are filled with "gray stones for Abnegation, water for Erudite, earth for Amity, lit coals for Dauntless, and glass for Candor" (11). 
    • Marcus gives a speech about democracy and choice and yadda yadda yadda. He explains that each group blames evil on some aspect of human personality, so they organize against that part: Dauntless blame cowardice, Candor blames lies, etc. You get the gist.
    • Caleb goes before Beatrice and surprises everyone by choosing Erudite. So now Beatrice feels like she can't abandon her parents… but she chooses Dauntless anyway.
    • Actually, first she spills some of her blood between the Dauntless and the Abnegation bowl, which is a scene that should have a giant neon sign over it that says "symbolism."
  • Chapter 6

    • After the Choosing Ceremony, Beatrice leaves with the Dauntless crowd (after getting a mad-sad look from dad and a smile from mom, which is weird).
    • And initiation into the Dauntless starts pretty quickly. To get to their home, Beatrice has to jump on a moving train. (We picture it basically like the El in Chicago—an aboveground train system.)
    • Beatrice gets on with a little help from another transfer, a girl from Candor named Christina. But she sees another transfer fail to get on the train. Which means he's factionless now. Ouch.
    • Then they have to jump off the moving train—initiation challenge #2. Another candidate decides he'd rather be factionless than dead, but Beatrice helps Christina jump.
    • But some other candidate misses the roof and fell to his death. Yeah, they're workin' with live ammo around here.
    • Beatrice meets Peter who is a Candor transfer and already a jerk. He makes Beatrice feel uncomfortable and calls her a Stiff (which is a mean term for Abnegation.)
    • And then we get to initiation challenge #3: jumping from the roof into a big hole in the ground. Beatrice wants to show she can be brave, so she jumps first.
    • There's a net at the bottom (of course, or else it would be a very short book). And Beatrice meets Four, who is an important guy in Dauntless, and who celebrates her for being brave enough to jump first.
    • She also gets to pick a new name, so she chooses Tris. (Short for Beatrice, but with more attitude.)
  • Chapter 7

    • Dauntless headquarters is underground, and the nine new transfers get to sleep in one room with bunk beds. Just like sleepaway camp, except with guns.
    • (To keep you up to date, of the nine transfers to Dauntless, there are five Candor transfers, three Erudite transfers, and one Abnegation transfer—Tris. We feel bad for Amity, who have no transfers.)
    • Four will be their instructor for a while, but first guides them through their new home, called the Pit.
    • It's a big, well, pit. It's underground, and at the bottom, there's a chasm and some rushing water—a good reminder that it's easy to die if you're too brave.
    • And there's living space all along the walls of the Pit. Pretty much everyone dresses in black, which is perfect underground wear.
    • Tris thinks it's a big mess but kind of exciting. We think it sounds like Batman's prison, but to each his own. 
    • They go to the cafeteria and Tris has her first hamburger.
    • We also meet another young leader of the Dauntless, a scary dude named Eric. As Tris notes, "His knuckles are scabbed over, right where they would split if he punched something too hard" (55). Sounds like a fun guy, right?
    • Eric is more important than Four, but they also seem to be rivals in some way that Tris doesn't understand. Maybe it's because the big leader of Dauntless (Max) wants to give Four a job promotion but Four doesn't want it.
    • At the bunkroom, Eric explains how Dauntless initiation works (or doesn't): it's a big competition and only the top-ranked people get in. Yay? No, wait, what's the opposite of yay?
    • The first night, all the new transfers to Dauntless are a little homesick. 
    • A big guy named Al actually breaks into tears, which really convinces Tris not to cry. (Al is a transfer from Candor, so maybe crying out loud is what he's used to, since Candor is all about telling the truth.)
    • It also convinces her that she's in the right place since a good Abnegation girl would want to comfort this crying guy. And she just wants him to be stronger and not bother her.
  • Chapter 8

    1. Dauntless training consists of fighting and shooting guns (not at people).
    2. First, Four teaches them about guns and Peter acts like he's too cool for gun school. Tris isn't so good at the shooty part of training at first, but gets better.
    3. She also gets better at being friendly with Christina and Will, a transfer from Erudite. And she also has to deal with PDA between some of the other initiates. That's totally new to her since kissing or holding hands isn't really done in Abnegation.
    4. After lunch, they get into boxing practice, which is supposed to make them less afraid about surprise and able to act quickly. We think it might have the side effect of making them brutal and in need of reconstructive surgery on their faces, but here's hoping. 
    5. Four teaches her a little bit about how to move while boxing, which makes her feel a little weird inside. (Because he's an alien? Or because she's got the hots for him and doesn't know it?)
    6. After training, Christina takes Tris to buy some cute clothes and makeup. After all, when you live in a post-apocalyptic Chicago, you want to look your best.
    7. Meanwhile, Al is getting a tattoo—and Tris runs into Tori, the Dauntless who gave her the aptitude test and is also a tattoo artist.
    8. Tori doesn't want to talk about the secret thing, which is that Tris is Divergent. But she will give Tris a tattoo to help remake her identity and remember who she is: three birds in flight. 
    9. Could those birds stand for her family members? For her potential choices of Abnegation, Dauntless, and Erudite?
  • Chapter 9

    • The next day, the real fighting begins. 
    • Before the boxing matches, Christina points out Peter and his friends a.k.a. minions of evil, Molly and Drew. They were all Candor, but they weren't very nice or truthful, so they transferred. And they all know that Christina hates them.
    • Meanwhile, nice Al beats up Will in the boxing ring, but feels bad about it.
    • And Eric and Four argue over the meaning of bravery, and whether it's brave to accept inevitable defeat. This is a very full chapter, philosophically speaking.
    • The fights are supposed to be to unconsciousness, but when Molly beats Christina, Christina tries to concede. And since Eric the Cruel is the one training them, he decides to make a lesson of her.
    • He orders her to climb over the railing and hang over the chasm at the bottom of the Pit for five minutes. So she does, even though it's hard to hold onto the slippery metal railing (especially after she was just beaten up).
    • Tris wants to help Christina, but is also a little afraid of being punished.
    • But when Al starts to chant encouraging remarks to Christina (like "don't fall and die"), Tris starts yelling with him, as if they're cheering on a sporting match. So, that's at least something.
    • Christina survives the five minutes without any other help from Tris and Al, though they do help Christina back onto the ground—over an objection from Eric the Psycho.
  • Chapter 10

    • Tris wakes up from a nightmare about Christina hanging over the chasm. Hope you like hearing about people's dreams, because there's going to be a bunch of that in this book.
    • Peter continues to be a jerk. For example, he spray-paints the word "Stiff" on Tris's bed while she's in the shower. Seriously, dude?
    • Tris talks more with Al, who seems like a gentle giant: he doesn't want to knock anyone else unconscious. Too bad that's a big part of the initiation.
    • That day, Tris has to fight Peter in the boxing (and kicking) ring, but no one believes she has any chance against the guy.
    • And they're right. Peter knocks her out and puts her in the hospital. When she wakes up, Al, Will, and Christina are there waiting for her.
    • And while Will and Christina are friends with Tris, Al might want to be more than friends. (Ugh, we hate that phrase: let's say "other than friends.") 
    • But Tris isn't interested in Al, though she doesn't want him to feel bad about himself for not wanting to beat people to a pulp.
    • They talk briefly about Visiting Day, when transfers' families can come say hi. But will Tris's family come after she abandoned them?
  • Chapter 11

    • The next day, the initiates take a field trip (yay) to the fence around Chicago (boo).
    • Tris had another nightmare, this time about Peter torturing her to get her to admit to being Divergent.
    • They take the train to the fence, with Tris staring at Four's muscles the whole way. Subtle.
    • The fence around Chicago is guarded by Dauntless with guns, though no one knows what they're keeping out (monsters?) or keeping in (annoying kids?). 
    • In fact, the Dauntless used to patrol the poor factionless part of town, but Abnegation voted them out, saying that the poor needed help, not police. (This sounds like a good time to have a class discussion on, well, class.)
    • While they're examining the fence, a truck full of Amity farmers comes through. And Robert is on that truck. (Who's Robert? He was a young Abnegation neighbor, which you shouldn't say five times fast.)
    • Robert seems sad by the fact that so many other Dauntless around Tris are jerks. Oh, and also Tris is entirely black-and-blue. He tells her that she should be happy.
    • But Tris says that happiness isn't her goal. 
    • After that, Four gives Tris some advice about fighting, which is to attack first. 
    • So in other words, this is just a typical field trip, like the ones you take at school.
  • Chapter 12

    • Two days later, the initiates get woken up at night for another field trip. We won't keep you in suspense: they're going to play some sort of capture the flag paintball game.
    • Eric and Four are the two captains and they choose people for their team. Surprise, surprise: Four chooses Tris, probably like this.
    • It's nighttime in Chicago, which is a pretty perfect place for paintball. (Trust us: we know both paintball and Chicago.) Four's team decides to go to Navy Pier, which has a giant Ferris wheel in our time. In their time, they've got a giant rusted Ferris wheel.
    • While Four's team argues about the best tactics, Tris decides to climb the Ferris wheel to try to find Eric's team and get an advantage. And Four follows her.
    • The only problem is that Four is afraid of heights. Dauntless our left foot. But on the plus side, while Four is having trouble breathing, Tris does see where the enemy team is.
    • On their way down, though, a piece of the ladder of the Ferris wheel comes off and Tris almost falls. So Four rescues her in the most logical and awesome manner: he turns on the Ferris wheel. (How is this Ferris wheel still powered? Don't let that bother you too much. Remember, this book is from Tris's point of view and she's not an engineer who deals with the power plants.)
    • After Tris jumps to safety, she informs the rest of the team where Eric's team has hidden their flag. And then Tris comes up with the plan to capture it. She's kind of rocking this whole paintball challenge.
    • In fact, she's rocking it so much that Four's team wins. But Tris and Christina get into a tiny fight over who should grab the flag itself. Christina takes it—she's taller and Tris has done enough, but there might be some jealousy there. After all, it's hard to be "friends" and "compete" at the same time.
    • One of the Dauntless-born initiates named Uriah congratulates Tris on being so, you know, Dauntless; and his friend Marlene also makes nice with Tris. So now she's got lots of friends—or frenemies, as it were, since they're competing against each other.
  • Chapter 13

    • Apparently, in the future, everyone gets to play with knives (and probably run with scissors). So it really is a utopia.
    • Today's Dauntless lesson, led by Eric the Crazy, is in how to throw a knife. And Tris is pretty good at it.
    • And—surprise, surprise—Al isn't very good at this at all. In fact, Al is so bad at the crucial skill of knife throwing, that Eric wants to teach Al a lesson about bravery or something by using Al as a target. (Which reminds us of this, not-for-the-squeamish scene.)
    • But Tris steps in: Four can throw knives at her instead of Al. 
    • So, Four throws the knives, narrowly missing Tris. And Tris thinks he's trying to make her fail by teasing her.
  • Chapter 14

    • The day before Visiting Day, Tris realizes she's just too muscular to wear her old clothes. But when she goes into the dormitory wearing just a towel, she gets bullied by Peter, Molly, and Drew. Like, Peter grabs her towel away from her. 
    • Luckily, in the training room, Tris gets a chance to fight against Molly. But since Tris has been studying Molly's fighting technique—and since Four gave her some useful advice about fighting in Chapter 11—Tris kicks her butt.
    • She doesn't feel bad about it at all. To be fair, neither do we, really.
  • Chapter 15

    • It's Visiting Day, when the parents come to see their kids and hopefully bring snacks. But since Tris kind of, sort of, totally abandoned her family, she's not expecting to see Mom or Dad. 
    • But, surprise, Tris's mom does come; and double-surprise, Tris's mom seems pretty comfortable with the whole Dauntless thing—the tattoos, the Pit, the bandages from broken noses, etc.
    • And mom seems pretty comfortable with Four, too, whom she describes as "handsome." 
    • Four tells mom that Tris is doing well, which is true, if by "well," he means "getting knives thrown at her."
    • In case you like Tris's friends and want to know how they're doing, Christina and Will visit with their family, but Al stays in the dorm to hide from his family.
    • Will's Erudite sister Cara actually starts to argue with Tris's mom. (Remember: Erudite hate Abnegation because Erudite think Abnegation are hoarding goods and not leading the city well. Yay politics.)
    • Instead of fighting, mom takes Tris to go talk about how things are, and reveals that she herself was born Dauntless—which is why she's so familiar with all the Dauntless ways.
    • And her mom also seems to know that Tris is Divergent, or at least that she got unclear test results. 
    • So she tells Tris to try to blend in with the ranking—she should aim for the middle of the rankings so people don't suspect that she's special.
    • Mom's final message is for Tris to find her brother in the Erudite compound. Tris should ask him to research the simulation serum. 
    • This is totally different from how our Visiting Days usually go, but we can roll with it.
  • Chapter 16

    • Back in the dormitory, Tris and Al have a heart-to-heart.
    • Among topics that Al covers: how his parents wanted him to join Dauntless; how he wants to protect people; and, oh yeah, how he has a crush on Tris. But Tris doesn't have a crush on him, so that's awkward.
    • Later that night, Tris and friends are talking about the aptitude test. Tris has to lie about it, but all her Candor friends (Christina and Al) are pretty good at telling when someone is bluffing. 
    • Later later that night, Four reveals the rankings for the first round. And Tris is 6 out of 9, which isn't bad. Looks like she listened to mama.
    • For reference, Peter is 2nd and Molly is 5th—and pissed about it. Molly even threatens Tris. But Peter is calm, which is scary considering how much of a whiner he is.
    • Later that night, Edward (ranked #1) gets stabbed in the eye, which is going to ruin his ability to fight. And, surprise, surprise, Peter and Drew aren't around. It's all very suspicious. Shmoop smells sabotage.
    • Tris and Will talk about how the leaders of Dauntless won't be interested in punishing Peter for stabbing someone in the eye.
    • That's when Will remembers the Dauntless manifesto, which says that courage is about standing up for others. That certainly doesn't sound like the Dauntless we know. 
    • Tris think that maybe Dauntless can become good again, and she repeats that line to herself: "I believe in ordinary acts of bravery, in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another" (143).
    • But that night, in the dormitory, Tris learns that Edward and his girlfriend Myra both dropped out. They're factionless now. And Peter is #1. Ugh.
  • Chapter 17

    • The next day, Tris seems a little low just because someone got stabbed in the eye. Some people are so sensitive about eye-stabbings.
    • To give her a pick-me-up, Uriah invites her to a Dauntless initiation rite. (Uriah is an initiate, like Tris, but he was born into Dauntless, so he knows all this inside stuff. But he was on her team during the paintball game, so he knows her even though the Dauntless-born initiates train separately from the transfers.)
    • The whole group of Dauntless, including Tris, gets on the train to go to the empty Hancock Building. Along the way, Tris meets and gets friendly with a few other Dauntless folk, like Shauna and Uriah's brother Zeke.
    • But who cares about that when the initiation rite is zip lining from the top of the Hancock Building all the way down to the ground? Which is a crazy long, fast, and high zip line (kind of like this one).
    • It's exciting and community building and Tris has a great time.
    • Except when she gets home, her old friends Christina, Al, and Will wonder where she's been. 
    • And while Tris has been having fun with the Dauntless, Christina was arguing with an Erudite reporter. The reporter wanted some dirt on Abnegation, so Christina almost punched her. Like a good friend would.
  • Chapter 18

    • The second stage of initiation in Dauntless is a lot like the aptitude test: it involves a chair and some mental exploration. It's like a mix of therapy and the movie The Cell (not recommended).
    • This simulation is all about facing one's fears and how the only way to beat your fears is to not be afraid of them anymore. Luckily, it's conducted privately, with just Four and Tris, so she doesn't have to face an audience.
    • The simulation also involves another simulation serum, but this time it comes with a transmitter injected into her, which has never ever ended well for any character ever.
    • Once it starts working, Tris goes into her fear hallucination. First, she's in an empty field and gets attacked by crows.
    • And that's as far as today's hallucination goes. Tris feels like she freaked out and failed, but Four tells her that she got out in nearly record time. (The simulation ends when you get your fear response under control.)
    • Four and Tris discuss fear, which is a very mature discussion like you'd see on PBS, except for the fact that Tris has a transmitter in her.
    • Their chat reveals that Tris isn't really afraid of crows—they're just a "symbol" of something.
    • And then they discuss Dauntless—how it used to be about courage, but now the leaders are into cruelty. Which is why Eric is in charge of the new initiates, even though Four was ranked above him when they were initiates.
  • Chapter 19

    • Back in the dormitory, Peter is reading out loud some Erudite newspaper that's badmouthing the Abnegation government. So politics is the same in the future as it is now. Good to know.
    • Apparently, part of Molly's revenge on Tris for beating the snot out of her was lying to the reporter, whom she told that Tris has nightmares about abuse from her parents. That's pretty cold revenge.
    • Will prevents Tris from starting a fight, and instead they go to the tattoo parlor. Note to Shmoopers: tattooing yourself is not the best way to handle your anger issues.
    • On their way home, they see some older Dauntless partying, including a drunk Four.
    • Drunken Four tells Tris that she looks good. Well, that happens when people drink.
  • Chapter 20

    • Four runs Tris through the fear landscape again. Unfortunately, while it's just a simulation, the fear is bleeding into her actual nightmares.
    • This time, Tris's fear is drowning in a glass box while people ignore her.
    • But instead of drowning, Tris breaks the glass, which is supposed to be impossible.
    • And that's how Four figures out that Tris is Divergent. But he'll hide the info for her. (Which is proof that he likes her, right? We're not crazy, right?)
    • Tris goes to chat with Tori about this super secret thing (that quite a few people know about now). Tori tells her that being Divergent means that she knows she's in a simulation and can change things.
    • And if the Dauntless leaders find out, they'll kill her. So that's not good.
    • In fact, that's what happened to Tori's brother. They made it look like a suicide-by-chasm, but she's sure it was murder.
    • So Tris thinks, if Four wanted to help her, either he is Divergent or he knows about Divergents.
  • Chapter 21

    • The Erudite continue to print articles about how the Abnegation is hoarding goods and holding back progress.
    • Four continues to lead Tris through her fear simulations, including burning at the stake, drowning in the ocean, watching her family die, and shooting them. A pretty well rounded group of fears, wouldn't you say?
    • Four lets slip that he doesn't miss his family, which is a little weird.
    • But we'd prefer being weird to having nightmares and panic attacks, which is what all the other initiates are going through because of the fear simulation. Worst hazing ritual ever.
    • Back in the dorm, the rankings are up and Tris is out on top. In fact, she's ridiculously beating Peter in how quickly she gets out of the fear simulation. So much for mom's advice from chapter 15, eh?)
    • Peter not only attacks Tris, but he tells her friends that she's just manipulating them by pretending to be weak. They may be friends, but they're still competing.
    • And poor Al, meanwhile, is ranked last and pretty depressed about the whole thing.
    • Tris opts to hang out with her Dauntless friends Uriah, Lynn, and Marlene. They play the old game of "shoot the muffin off my head." Do not try this at home.
    • That night, when Tris goes to get a drink of water, she overhears Eric talk with some woman about identifying Divergent people. It's Eric's job to find them, apparently. 
    • And then, Tris gets attacked by Peter, Drew, and… Al. Yep—Al. No more Mr. Nice Guy, we guess. 
    • They drag Tris to the chasm and dangle her over the railing. Maybe it's just to scare her or maybe Peter actually plans to kill her by letting her fall.
    • But when Peter starts to molest Tris, Al resists.
    • And then Four comes and stops this by beating the heck out of Drew (who apparently runs the slowest).
  • Chapter 22

    • Tris wakes up in Four's room, where he tells her that he beat Drew up very badly.
    • Four also explains why Al betrayed her: when Tris was stronger than Al, that made Al feel weak.
    • Four also tells her that she has to keep safe (which is one of those pieces of advice that really should go without saying, like don't eat rotten fruit.) 
    • But when she gets a chance, she should destroy her enemies (which is much better advice.)
  • Chapter 23

    • That night, Tris stays in Four's room.
    • Watching him sleep, Tris can finally admit that she thinks he's swell. (What is it with teenagers and watching people sleep?)
    • Back out with the other initiates, Tris resorts to some self-preservation tactics: she pretends to be weak and scared by Peter's attack.
    • Four takes the initiates through the glass building above the Pit, to the place where they'll be tested in the final part of the initiation. They'll have to go through their fear landscape that's been built up for them from their simulations. Worst obstacle course ever.
    • Luckily, everyone going through will know they're in a simulation, just like Tris always could.
    • Back in the dorm, Al tries to apologize to Tris ("Sorry I ganged up with your worst enemies and dangled you over a deadly fall, still friends?"). 
    • But Tris tells him not to come near her again. Fair enough, we guess.
  • Chapter 24

    • The next day, they find that Al has killed himself by jumping down the chasm.
    • Tris feels a little guilty about this since she did reject his attempt to apologize. Tori gives her some tea to help her feel better; and Molly almost gets into a fight with her. Way to help out, Molly.
    • But then Eric gets up and gives a speech about how courageous Al was to go face death. Tris thinks that's just plain dumb.
    • Four tries to talk to Tris—preferably not near the hidden spy-cam the leaders have over the water fountain. (Great place for a spycam, right? Everyone goes to get water. It's like lions waiting at the watering hole for buffalo.)
    • Four explains that he wasn't taunting Tris in chapter 13 (the knife-throwing chapter). He was telling her to be strong so that she could sacrifice herself for Al.
    • Because she's stronger when she's acting selflessly.
    • Four also tells her that he wants to frighten her because fear makes her alive. Well that sounds… serial-killer-like.
    • And then he tells her that "guilt" should teach her to do better next time (even if it wasn't her fault). And that's totally an Abnegation lesson. Very interesting…
  • Chapter 25

    • More tattoos? Yes, Will, Christina, and Tris have got new tattoos. Tris's tattoo this time is of the Abnegation symbol.
    • After that, Tris tosses some Erudite articles about Abnegation ("I hear they kick puppies!") into the chasm with Will and Christina.
    • But then she sees Four and follows him to the fear landscape room. And he invites her into his fears so she can learn about him. Which is kind of like sneaking a peek at someone's therapy records. Super personal.
    • So what does Four fear? (1) Heights. (2) Small spaces (because he used to be locked in a small closet as punishment when he was a kid). (3) Shooting a woman. How very chivalric. (4) And his abusive father, who is… Marcus, the Abnegation leader who works with Tris's own dad.
    • Which means that Four is actually Tobias, the son who left (that we heard about in chapter 4).
    • That means Four was bourn into an Abnegation family, but transferred to Dauntless. 
    • While she's mind-melding with him, she helps him get out of all these fears, including this last one, where she gets in between Marcus and Four/Tobias. (Get it? He's called Four because he only has four fears.)
    • But Four has one more thing to show Tris… that we'll learn in chapter 26.
  • Chapter 26

    • Back in the real world, Tris and Four are walking hand-in-hand. If you like happy endings, you should stop reading here.
    • But Tris feels less happy when Four tells her that his aptitude test came back Abnegation, not Divergent.
    • Four goes on to tell her that he believes that all five virtues are totally compatible. Like, you can be brave and selfless at the same time. Which is what happened with Tris in Chapter 13: she was brave to save Al from getting knives thrown at him.
    • What are we forgetting? Oh, yeah, they kiss.
  • Chapter 27

    • Post-kiss, Tris is feeling pretty good about herself. And you know what that means: this chapter is probably going to be a downer. No one in books can be happy for long. It's written down in the literature laws.
    • Right on cue, in the cafeteria, Four/Tobias comes in and ignores Tris. This leads to a totally believable moment of doubt—"Maybe he changed his mind about liking me. Maybe he thinks kissing me was a mistake" (11). Girl, we've been there.
    • To top it all off, Four takes the initiates to run through a fear landscape. Luckily, they're going to use the fears of one of their instructors, a woman named Lauren.
    • Lauren explains that most people have 10-15 fears, with the record for lowest fears being… four.
    • Since it's Lauren's fears, it should be easy for Tris to get out of it, right? Unfortunately, Lauren has a fear of being kidnapped that reminds Tris of the night that Peter, Drew, and Al dangled her over the chasm.
    • So Tris freaks out, natch. And Four yells at her to pull herself together. Tris slaps him (which is fun in a book, but really, not a good way to treat someone you like).
  • Chapter 28

    • She's having a bit of a moment, so Tris plays hooky and leaves the Dauntless compound to go visit her brother in Erudite.
    • She takes the train downtown to the library that is Erudite home base.
    • Tris runs into brother Caleb (which is lucky, since the Erudite don't seem to like answering questions, like "Where's my brother?")
    • They go out to the nearby park to talk. (If you know Chicago, you know she's talking about Millennium park and the giant statue named "Cloud Gate"—but which everyone calls "The Bean".)
    • The family reunion is tense. (They could both ask each other, "So, how are things since you stabbed mom and dad in the back?") 
    • But Caleb warns her that something big and wrong is happening soon. And Tris asks him to check out the simulation serum (which her mother asked her to do in chapter 15). It's an unhappy meeting.
    • And things don't get better. Tris is asked to go meet Jeanine Matthews, the head of Erudite. She's the woman who was plotting with Eric in chapter 21. She's the designer of the aptitude test, she wants to find Divergents, and she suspects Tris. What a fun talk this will be.
    • But clever Tris lies and says that she agrees with the Erudite reports about how bad Abnegation is, Jeanine lets her go.
    • After that, Tris is returned to the Dauntless. She gets scolded by Eric for leaving without permission.
    • Luckily, Four/Tobias comes in and helps Tris convince Eric that she just was embarrassed. It's not like she was plotting against Dauntless or anything.
    • Eric leaves (thank goodness) and Four/Tobias makes it all up to Tris: he ignored her at breakfast because it wouldn't look right for an instructor to be kissing a student. So, ta-da, everything is better; they arrange to meet later that night because Four has something to show her. Oh, get your mind out of the gutter.
    • Back in the dorm, Christina tells Tris that Will kissed her. So, yay, everyone is paired up. Stop here for a happy ending.
    • But if you keep reading (this really long chapter), you'll find that Tris and Four/Tobias take a train ride that night (with some kissing on the way). He points out that the Erudites are still awake at night; and that he found secret computer files about Dauntless waging war for Erudite, probably on Abnegation. 
    • The plot thickens…
  • Chapter 29

    • There's a big party in Dauntless HQ and everyone is invited. This is how Dauntless celebrates initiation day—with lots of food and alcohol. 
    • But Tris can't celebrate because (a) she was raised as a party pooper, and (b) there's going to be a war soon, which is kind of a bummer.
    • And then it's off to take the SATs. No, that's not right; we mean it's time for everyone to go through their fear landscape.
  • Chapter 30

    • We're in Tris's fear landscape, so this should be fun. 
    • First, we have the birds attacking her, but it's not really about the birds. Tris realized that it's about control, so she fights back with something that makes her feel in control and powerful: a gun.
    • Then we get the glass tank filling with water. She figures out that this is really a fear of not being able to escape, so she cracks the glass.
    • Tris's third fear is about being battered by ocean waves against sharp rocks. Is that another "loss of control" fear? In any case, she runs away from the ocean, which is our solution to all Shmoop's fears: we run away.
    • Her fourth fear is about being burned at the stake like a witch. By Peter. Tris doesn't really tell us what this particular fear symbolizes, but she does make it rain.
    • Problem solved.
    • Her fifth fear is about being kidnapped just like when Peter, Drew, and Al grabbed her. So she hides and calms down, which means she passes the fear.
    • Her sixth fear is sex with Four/Tobias. Yep, you read that right. Tris doesn't feel ready for sex and she's not super comfortable with affection. And she gets over that fear by firmly telling him no because she just wants to kiss.
    • Her seventh fear is having to shoot her family. But instead of shooting them (as she used to do in the simulations), she lets herself get shot instead. So, is that a pass or a fail?
    • The answer to that question will have to wait for the next session of Psych 101.
  • Chapter 31

    • Back in the real world, Tris's testers come in to congratulate her for passing. And now, as a gift, she gets injected with a tracking device. Gee, thanks?
    • Tobias/Four wasn't watching Tris's fear landscape, so he doesn't know that he was part of it. How awkward would that have been?
    • Tris goes back to Tobias/Four's room to relax, but instead they have a Serious Conversation About Their Relationship. At which point, it comes out that he's never had sex and he's with her because he likes her. So she tells him about her fear landscape.
    • Then they show each other their tattoos, which is very personal, so we know this is serious. 
    • Tobias actually has tattoos of all the faction symbols. Because he's one of those weird people who think that you should try to live up to several virtues all at once.
    • And then we get what we came here for: more kissing.
  • Chapter 32

    • Back in the dining hall, Tris meets up with her friends. They discuss what jobs they might want if their ranking is high enough. Those with higher rankings get first pick—because if you're good at punching someone, you should be a good administrator.
    • And they're such good friends that they can discuss their fear landscapes: sex, moths (Christina's fear), etc.
    • The rankings are displayed then, and Tris is #1.
    • Even better, Molly and Drew don't do so well, so they get kicked out of the faction. Yay?
    • Tris kisses Tobias/Four in public, so, there goes the secret part of the relationship.
    • And that's when Tris realizes how Erudite will get Dauntless to fight for them, and it involves the serum. The answer is… just kidding, she doesn't tell us in this chapter.
  • Chapter 33

    • That night, Tris wakes up to see everyone else sleepwalking. She doesn't know what's going on, but she follows and pretends to be just like everyone else. (Oh, peer pressure.)
    • The sleepwalkers grab guns, get on a train, and head out to the Abnegation section of the city.
    • But on the way, Tris finds Tobias/Four, and, surprise, surprise, he's just as special as she is. He's not sleepwalking, but he's trying to blend in.
    • So, the Dauntless army gets to Abnegation quarters and starts killing people. 
    • Eric is not sleepwalking and contemplates killing Four, so that's when Tris blows her cover by shooting Eric in the foot.
    • Tris and Tobias/Four try to get away, though Tris gets shot in the shoulder; and they get caught.
    • Yep, this stuff just got real. And fast.
  • Chapter 34

    • Tris and Tobias/Four are taken prisoner by Eric and the Dauntless (our new band name).
    • They go to meet Jeanine, who does the classic villain monologue a bit. Blah blah, take over the government, blah blah, kill self-righteous Abnegation, etc., etc.
    • Also, since the sleepwalking program didn't work on these two Divergent rebels, Jeanine has new plans for them: a new mind-control serum for Four.
    • This new mind-control serum works on Tobias/Four by controlling what he sees. But since Tris is already shot, Jeanine decides they might as well just execute her.
  • Chapter 35

    • In true supervillain fashion, Jeanine decides to execute Tris through the incredibly inefficient method of slowly drowning her. Sure, it's scary, but it's so slow. The Erudite are studying this for some reason.
    • But luckily, Tris's mom shows up and rescues her. Mom gets her out of there—and reveals that she herself was Divergent. (So does it run in the family, like red-hair or love of Buffy the Vampire Slayer?)
    • But while they're running away, some Dauntless almost catch them. That's when Tris's mom sacrifices herself so that Tris can get away and find dad and bro (who are hidden in a nearby basement).
  • Chapter 36

    • After losing her mother, Tris runs away, followed by the sleepwalking Dauntless soldiers.
    • Including Will, whom Tris shoots dead.
    • After that little interlude (shooting her sleepwalking friend in the head, NBD), Tris finds the basement where her family is hiding.
    • Caleb is there because he researched the simulation serum and found out that Jeanine was up to no good.
    • And, just to make sure that we know everyone in the family is happy to see each other, dad takes the bullet out of Tris's shoulder. Aw, family.
    • But it's not just Tris's family here: there are a bunch of other Abnegation people hiding out, including Tobias/Four's abusive dad Marcus.
    • Tris explains the dealio: they have to destroy the computer at Dauntless HQ that is running the simulation. That's the way to make the sleepwalkers wake up.
    • So anyone who is willing to fire a gun can come with Tris to Dauntless HQ, while the rest of the Abnegation folk hide out or run for Amity.
  • Chapter 37

    • Tris's elite strike team consists of her dad, her brother, and Marcus (who is good with computers, just like his son).
    • They take the train to Dauntless HQ and sneak in the back way. 
    • There aren't many guards left in Dauntless, but Peter's there and he's not sleepwalking. Because he's the sort of sadistic jerk who would go along with this plan willingly.
    • Tris captures him and shoots him in the arm so that he'll tell her where the computers are. (Too bad they don't have, you know, maps in the future, so she wouldn't have to torture him.)
    • Peter agrees to give her the scoop if they'll take him with them when they escape. So he leads them to the glass building with the computers. 
    • When they see some guards, Tris's dad sacrifices himself so that Tris can get past to the computers. And that's where she finds Tobias/Four, operating the computer simulation.
  • Chapter 38

    • Tobias/Four is still mind-controlled, but Tris tries to break through. 
    • Well, first she tries to destroy the computer, but when that fails—because Tobias/Four is a better fighter—then she tries to talk to him.
    • And she decides she can't shoot him, so instead, she gives Tobias/Four a gun. Yay for self-sacrifice?
  • Chapter 39

    • Surprise, surprise, Tobias/Four doesn't shoot Tris, but wakes up from his mind-control because he's Divergent and she reminded him. 
    • They kiss and Tobias shuts down the mind-control program. He also gets a little hard drive with data on the simulation so they can show it to people and prove what Erudite did.
    • So all the Dauntless are free, though very confused. Needless to say, there's some shooting and chaos out on the streets.
    • It's a little super-awkward when Tobias/Four sees his old abusive dad again—the dad that he tried to get far away from. Yeah, not so much hugging and kissing there.
    • Tris tells Marcus to get away from his son; but there are other issues to deal with right now, like getting away from Dauntless HQ.
    • So the whole group hops on a train—Tris, her brother Caleb, Tobias/Four, his dad Marcus, and evil Peter. And they're off to find some refuge with the Amity.
    • (Or maybe just ride the rails like some 1930s-style vagabonds.)
    • Also, if you care about this sort of thing, Tris and Tobias/Four say they love each other.
    • Onto the sequel!