Study Guide

Four Family

By Veronica Roth

Family

It's been years since I heard [my mother's name] because my father won't speak it, won't even acknowledge it if he hears it. (1.44)

Wow, that's dysfunctional. No, that's more than dysfunctional; it's full on messed up, and a good way to tear a family apart.

My mother was the one who taught me to steal moments like these, moments of freedom, though she didn't know it. (1.61)

Tobias/Four seems to have fond memories of his mother. What happens to these memories when he finds out she's still alive? All those warm fuzzies go right out the window.

I see him and his family sometimes, a perfect Abnegation unit, Natalie and Andrew, and the son and daughter (1.84)

Tobias goes on to describe how "perfect" the Prior family is, and he almost sounds envious since his own family is on the opposite end of that spectrum.

My father puts a hand on my shoulder as we walk to the entrance, sending shocks of pain through my body. (1.145)

With Marcus, you can never tell if this gesture is meant as fatherly support, or to remind Tobias of how he can beat him if he makes the Eaton family look bad. Poor Four just needs a hug!

I remember my mother's hands, with their slim fingers, closing the trunk and locking it and handing me the key. (1.308)

Here again we see the fond memories of Tobias/Four's mother. Or are the memories more attached to the sentimental objects, like the key, than the hand that gives it to him?

I shake my head a little, banishing the memory. She's dead. It's a child's memory. Unreliable. (2.68)

Even before Four discovers his mother is still alive, he starts trying to rid himself of these memories. Why does he think that family memories are a weakness?

She looks almost like my mother. (2.396)

This closes one of the chapters, so even if you haven't read Divergent you know that Mama Four is going to come back and be a huge factor in the plot.

I know her; I could never forget her face, my mother. Evelyn Eaton. (3.186)

Notice how when Four sees his dead mother for the first time, and discovers she's not dead, no emotional words are used. Does he feel anything at all?

Even now I don't want to imagine what reconciling with her would be like, what having a mother would be like. I'm too old to hear that comforting nonsense anymore. (3.261)

Is anyone ever "too old" to be comforted by their mother? If Four let himself be comforted by her, would it happen, or is she no longer capable of that?

Families can always come together on Visiting Day, even if they're from different factions, but over time, they usually stop coming. "Faction before blood," after all. (4.4)

Perhaps this quote answers a lot of our questions. In this society, faction loyalty is more important than familial loyalty.