Study Guide

Four Strength and Skill

By Veronica Roth

Strength and Skill

"Don't worry about me handling the pain," I say. "I've had a lot of practice." (1.133)

Four is able to channel the pain he felt at Marcus's abuse into a strength, the ability to reduce and withstand pain from other sources.

"You're not a bad runner," Tori says as she sidles up to me on the platform. (1.195)

Tobias must just have naturally strong legs or something, because it doesn't seem like he has that much opportunity for long-distance running in Abnegation.

I have a new name, which means I can be a new person. […] Someone who can cut back. Someone who's finally ready to fight. (1.333-1.334)

Four's new identity is one of near-fearlessness. He has only four fears. Without all the fear he's carried around—fear of his father, especially—his inner strength starts to come out almost immediately.

Tomorrow my opponent is Eric. Beating him will take more than a clever move, or persistence. It will take skill I don't have, strength I haven't earned. (2.6)

What does Four mean by strength he hasn't "earned"? What strengths must he "earn" and what does it mean to "earn" them?

I am now first in my initiate class. I may have chosen Dauntless as a haven, but I'm not just surviving here, I'm excelling. (2.173)

Four made the right choice, choosing a faction that values physical strength. As he trains obsessively, his strength grows exponentially.

"The training program will last at least a year," Max says. "It will be rigorous and it will test your skills in a lot of areas." (3.17)

That sounds tough enough, but it takes even more strength and skill (and confidence in one's own strength and skill) to do this after just getting out of an equally rigorous initiation training.

"Dauntless has always embraced a spirit of competition," Eric says. "Competition makes us better; it brings out the best, strongest parts of us." (3.283)

Kelly Clarkson would make a good member of Dauntless. "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger," could be the Dauntless motto, verbatim.

"I would improve Dauntless by fostering true bravery instead of stupidity and brutality," I say. "Take out the knife throwing. Prepare people physically and mentally to defend the weak against the strong." (3.292)

Four has the complete opposite idea of Eric. Eric wants to be the type of person who uses his strength to prey on the weak, while Four wants to protect them… until they're strong enough to take care of themselves.

"Hey," [Tris] sighs. "We got through it." […] "You got me through it," I say. (4.542, 4.544)

Tris's bravery and strength under pressure is contagious. Without her, solid as a rock, Four would fall apart when facing his worst fears.

As she tumbles over the side, I grab her arms to steady her. She's small, and thin—fragile-looking, like the impact with the net should have shattered her. Her eyes are wide and bright blue. (5.15)

Tris's about-to-break physical appearance is supposed to emphasize how strong she is. She doesn't look strong, but she is! That makes us perceive her to be even stronger than she actually is.