Study Guide

Four Violence

By Veronica Roth


[Marcus's] hands collide with my chest. (1.115)

In other themes, like "isolation" and "freedom and confinement" we discuss Marcus's emotional abuse. Here, we see that he gets physical too, and not like Olivia Newton John.

He will return with a belt, and the stripes he carves into my back will be easily hidden by a shirt and an obedient Abnegation expression. (1.119)

This physical abuse is awful. Scenes like these make it understandable why Marcus is the worst of Four's four fears.

I am afraid—I am afraid of what I will be asked to do in Dauntless, of what I will want to do. Afraid of some kind of hidden violence inside of me, wrought by my father and by the years of silence my faction forced on me. (1.297)

This is something Tobias/Four has in common with his father—a violence inside. Unlike Marcus, however, Four can usually control himself.

Amar steps back, and Eric rushes forward, fast, his fist hitting me square in the jaw. (2.140)

Eric plays dirty. He's not smart enough to one-up Four in a verbal or mental game, so he has to take physical cheap shots in order to get the upper hand. (And he ends up losing this fight anyway.)

I feel my pain disappear into rage, and I grab his arm to hold him in place as I swing at him again, and again, and again. I don't even see where I'm hitting him; I don't see or hear anything. I am empty, alone, nothing. (2.149)

Here's the violence inside coming out of Four in an uncontrollable flurry of punches. At least it's directed toward an enemy, and not toward a loved one. Does that excuse this outburst?

"It's not because you're a girl. I just… I'm not really into violence for no reason." (2.192)

Four, this is a lie. He explicitly said he didn't want to hit girls earlier. Now he seems to not want to be violent toward anyone for "no reason." We guess just being told to beat each other up for the sake of initiation into a faction is a valid reason for him, though.

Beating [Eric] up again isn't going to prove that he's a faction traitor. (3.44)

While Four is making a good point here (violence isn't the answer!) he's not thinking like a Dauntless, who seem to think that hitting something over and over until it changes is the best solution to any problem.

"Edward. He was attacked. Stabbed." (4.73)

Dauntless is naturally violent, but under Eric's leadership, the violence gets cranked up to eleven, from the sanctioned fist-fights of the pre-Eric days to people stabbing each other to gain an advantage.

I hit [Drew] once, twice, three times in the face, and he collapses to the ground, and then I'm kicking him and I can't think, can't think at all. (4.308)

This is a repeat of the rage attack against Eric. Here, however, it's different because Four is attacking someone who threatened Tris, not someone who threatened him personally.

"I'm the one who's threatening you," Shauna says, almost in a growl. "One more violent outburst and I'm going to teach you a lesson about justice." She holds the knife point over his eye, and brings it down slowly, pressing the point to his eyelid. […] "An eye for an eye. A bruise for a bruise." (4.358)

Even the so-called good guys can seem pretty scary. This is the Dauntless way of dealing with problems.