Study Guide

Insurgent Quotes

  • Guilt

    Before I open my eyes, I watch him crumple to the pavement again. Dead. My doing. (1.3-1.4)

    This book opens with Tris sticking her key in the ignition to begin a hundred-page-long guilt trip. Not that we blame her. Shooting a friend, even when you feel you're forced to do it, isn't an easy thing to overcome. Not that we're speaking from experience.

    I shove the gun beneath it and let the mattress bury it. (2.5)

    Tris is going with the out-of-sight, out-of-mind approach to assuaging her guilt. We're not sure if this is going to work, or if that smoking gun is going to turn into a something like the telltale heart, a ticking time bomb reminding her of what she's done.

    I can't tell [Tobias] that I'm having nightmares about Will, or I would have to explain why. (5.43)

    Telling your boyfriend that you're dreaming of another man is hard. Telling him that you're dreaming of another man you killed one time is even harder. However, by keeping it from Tobias, Tris is just layering guilt on top of guilt here. It's a seven-layer dip of guilt, without the guacamole.

    Maybe time would not feel as heavy if I didn't have this guilt—the guilt of knowing the truth and stuffing it down where no one can see it, not even Tobias. (11.49)

    Guilt weighs Tris down. Maybe that's why every one of her moves takes so much effort: all that guilt makes her weigh twenty more pounds.

    Maybe I can fight the serum. But I don't know if I should try. It might be better for the people I love if I come clean. (12.92)

    Plotwise, this is a nice way for Tris to absolve her guilt. She overcomes the truth serum, but she still confesses the truth. That makes her, like, extra not guilty now, right?

    Lie-detector test. Truth serum. I have to remind myself. It is too easy to get lost in honesty. (12.120)

    For someone who is guilty about pretty much everything, telling the truth can feel like going to the gym after years of inactivity. It can feel good and be kind of addicting to actually be honest for once. It's healthy.

    I was willing to die rather than kill Tobias, but the thought never occurred to me when it came to Will. I decided to kill Will in a fraction of a second. (12.156)

    Ah, here we see an even deeper reason for Tris's guilt. She feels guilty that she didn't love Will enough to save him. She feels guilty that she only saves boys she's romantically attracted to. Yeah, well, maybe that is something to feel kind of guilty about. Unless you're her boyfriend, you do not want your life to be in this girl's hands.

    I am tired of being Tris. I have done bad things. I can't take them back, and they are part of who I am. Most of the time, they seem like the only thing I am. (13.26)

    When Tris is unable to focus on anything other than her extreme guilt, she becomes suicidal. This even happens after she confesses the truth to everyone. Is there anything she can do to overcome these terrible feelings?

    I see a flicker of movement in the mirror, and before I can stop myself, I stare at my reflection. This is how I looked to him, I think. This is how I looked when I shot [Will]. (21.5)

    Tris cannot pick up a gun without feeling guilty for shooting Will. She definitely realizes that guns don't kill people… she kills people. Trying to rationalize to herself that it was something she had to do is really difficult.

    This lie—this lie is the worst I have ever told. I will never be able to take it back. (38.63)

    Tris feels guilty about lying to Tobias for basically the same reason she feels guilty for shooting Will: she doesn't feel that she has any other choice. Do you think that if she just owned up and took responsibility for her own actions, she might feel better about them?

  • Loyalty

    "The last time I trusted a faction representative with this information, all my friends were murdered." (3.19)

    In the world of Divergent, loyalty to a faction can mean the difference between life and death. Almost all of the book's major decisions depend on a person deciding whether to be loyal to their leader or to go instead with what they themselves believe in.

    "In order to have peace, we must first have trust." (3.21)

    This line by Johanna is true, but nobody will listen to it. By the end of the novel, the whole faction system is in jeopardy. There's no peace, and no one trusts anyone.

    "Dauntless is split in half," Edward says, talking around the food in his mouth. "Half at Erudite headquarters, half at Candor headquarters." (8.37)

    Ignoring Edward's poor dinner etiquette, it's apparent early on that the line is being drawn. Who are the Dauntless loyal to? To Erudite or Candor? Why aren't they just loyal to themselves?

    The idea is so ridiculous to me that I half snort, half laugh. It can't be true. Except. Except: He never talked about his family or his childhood. (10.36-10.38)

    At this point, Tris starts wondering just what her dad's loyalties were. Evelyn has told him that he used to eat lunch with Jeanine. Dining with the enemy?! What does that mean? Did he betray Abnegation?

    "No matter how long you train someone to be brave, you never know if they are or not until something real happens." (14.66)

    Cowardice is often cast as the opposite of bravery. In Insurgent, betrayal results from cowardice. People who aren't loyal to their factions are seen as cowardly traitors.

    There are more Dauntless in the room, Dauntless without blue armbands—loyal Dauntless. My faction. (16.28)

    If a faction is divided in two, is it really a faction anymore? Tris identifies herself as one of the loyal Dauntless, but aren't the "traitorous" Dauntless just loyal to someone else? Who makes the rules?

    I feel a flare of anger—how many things is [Tobias] going to keep from me? – and try to stifle it. Of course he couldn't tell me Uriah was Divergent. He was just respecting Uriah's privacy. It makes sense. (17.107)

    Tris realizes something important here: just because Tobias is loyal to someone else (in this case by respecting Uriah's privacy and his faction rules), that doesn't mean that he is betraying Tris. She is not the only person in his life he has to be loyal to.

    "It sort of defeats the purpose of being a spy if you tell everyone that's what you are." (19.34)

    So, Zeke proves his loyalty by defecting to the other side and spying on them, which means that he's pretending to be loyal to someone else, but isn't. Is loyalty all about choosing sides?

    "Don't you think someone with the aptitude for multiple factions might have a loyalty problem?" (19.104)

    Is being Divergent pretty much exactly the same as being disloyal? Sure, Disloyal wouldn't be as catchy of a title for a book, but we do have to wonder what makes the Divergent different from all these people getting slapped with the label "traitor."

    [The factionless] are not characterized by a particular virtue. They claim all colors, all activities, all virtues, and all flaws as their own. (37.66)

    Tris is amazed that the factionless stick together. When you think about it, the faction system is a lot like a fraternity. Tris, being raised inside that system, doesn't realize that some people are loyal and loving to one another just because they're people… not because they're from the same secret society.

  • Choice

    "They each have an equal role in government; they each feel equally responsible." […] "I think it's unsustainable." (2.85-2.86)

    Early on, the choice is presented between an equal government and a government in which certain factions, like Dauntless, have more power than others. The irony is that Tobias finds the first kind of government beautiful, even though that's exactly what he goes against in the end. And Tris, who thinks equal government is unsustainable, succeeds in demolishing the government altogether.

    My instinct was to believe Marcus, and I usually trust my instincts. (3.72)

    Tris's main conflict of loyalty is between Tobias and Marcus, who is Tobias's abusive father. There's something in her gut telling her to trust her boyfriend's sketchy father. Needless to say, this doesn't make Tobias happy, and she has to decide who to believe in.

    "Evelyn," Tobias says. "I chose Dauntless." "Choices can be made again." (8.103-8.104)

    This whole faction system is surprisingly malleable. The society is supposed to be divided up into five different factions, but it seems that most people get to choose wherever they want to go and change their mind whenever they want to. Is this society more about taking choice away (and being really bad at it) or about giving people choices?

    "I'd rather be factionless than Dauntless." (9.21)

    Edward talks as if it's a choice to be factionless, but is it? It seems that for some Dauntless the "choice" is between exile and death. Is that really a choice, when you think about it?

    "I was born for Abnegation. I was planning on leaving Dauntless, and becoming factionless. But then I met her, and… I felt like maybe I could make something more of my decision." (12.81)

    Tobias's choice involves a little more than just choosing a faction or choosing to become factionless. He's choosing whether or not to stay with Tris, and he's trying to figure out what is best for both of them.

    I remember Evelyn's voice, speaking in the shadows in the factionless safe house: "What I am suggesting is that you become important." (21.17)

    Tobias has to make a choice between his nature, which is fairly compassionate and diplomatic, and acting the way his faction expects him to act: fearless, cruel, and violent. That's a choice that most people in this book probably have to make, but Tobias's choice is front and center, because he's being pushed by his mother to achieve a position of power.

    By the time the fight dies down, my clothes are more paint-colored than black. I decide to keep the shirt to remind me why I chose Dauntless in the first place: not because they are perfect, but because they are alive. Because they are free. (24.56)

    It's easy to forget that Tris has a choice when it comes to her faction. What does it say about her that she pretty much chooses to be alive? Would she be more suicidal if she chose a different faction, or less?

    As Marlene and the other Dauntless girl step off the edge of the roof, I dive at Hector. (26.31)

    Sometimes Tris has to make some difficult choices in an instant. This is literally a life-or-death decision she has to make. One person will live, and two will die. Why does Tris choose Hector over Marlene and no-name?

    All I can do is decide if I trust Marcus or not. (38.3)

    Near the end of the novel, we're brought back to this: will Tris choose her boyfriend (who, by the way, just said "I love you"), or will she choose her boyfriend's father, who might just be a dirty liar? This choice sets the final events of the book into motion, and even sets us up for the finale of the trilogy. It's not a small decision.

    "It is not my wish to encourage division in this community, which has given so much to me," says Johanna. "But my conscience forces me to go against this decision. Anyone else whose conscience drives them toward the city is welcome to come with me." (39.156)

    Okay, this decision is huge as well. Johanna is the leader of Amity, a faction that seems to pride itself on its ability to make unanimous decisions. What Johanna is doing is giving the members of the faction a choice. This choice might tear the entire faction apart, but Johanna does it for the same reason Tris makes her difficult choices: she thinks it's for the good of the entire city, not just her faction.

  • Identity

    I cut in as straight a line as I can, using my jaw as a guide. (2.54)

    Tris defines her identity through her new short haircut, a method of expressing yourself popularized by Felicity and heroines in Lifetime Original Movies.

    This is what it feels like: pulling the different parts of me up and in like a shoelace. (3.3)

    Tris is trying to rationalize different parts of her identity into one coherent whole. The two most disparate parts at this point are the part that loves her friends and the part that will shoot them if she knows she has to. Yeah, that's an identity crisis in the making if we've ever heard one.

    "Don't call me 'little girl.'" (6.33)

    "Little girl" is the worst slur a person can hurl at Tris. She's stuck in adolescence, wanting to desperately move past her youth but not yet ready to act like an adult. Her own insecurities about her identity probably make her extra sensitive to what other people say about her.

    "What did they do to you? You're acting like a lunatic." "That's not very nice of you to say," I say. "They put me in a good mood, that's all." (6.83-6.84)

    It says a lot about Tris's personality that when she starts acting happy, Tobias knows that she's been put under some sort of chemical influence. Being happy and affectionate just isn't a part of her identity.

    Did I want to [fight the peace serum]? Or was it nice to forget about anger, forget about pain, forget about everything for a few hours? (7.9)

    Okay, so Tris sounds like a person who does want to be happy here. But she also sounds either suicidal or like a drug addict. Someone should keep that "peace serum" away from her before she's injecting it between her own toes.

    My mouth goes dry. No factions? A world in which no one knows who they are or where they fit? I can't even fathom it. I imagine only chaos and isolation. (9.74)

    One of the reasons Tris likes the faction system is that it pretty much chooses her identity for her. She doesn't understand how anyone can have an identity if they exist outside a faction. (She has a point, though… how exactly do we normals define ourselves in the real world?)

    I look older. Maybe it's the short hair or maybe it's just that I wear all that has happened like a mask. Either way, I always thought I would be happy when I stopped looking like a child. But all I feel is a lump in my throat. I am no longer the daughter my parents knew. (11.41)

    Getting older isn't all it's cracked up to be, especially not when you're an angry, impulsive teenager like Tris. We have a hard time even imagining her as a happy child. She was probably born with a scowl on her face.

    Then [Tobias] beat up Marcus—publicly, where all the Dauntless could see it. Why? To salvage his pride? It can't be. It was far too intentional for that. (20.40)

    Tris doesn't yet realize that Tobias is trying to carve out an identity for himself, one that will make him a Dauntless leader. They expect him to be impulsive and violent, so he is trying to act according to their expectations. But is that really who he is on the inside?

    That is how things in Dauntless are decided: with nods and yells. In these moments we don't seem like individuals anymore. We are all part of the same mind. (22.54)

    The people in Dauntless definitely have a mob mentality going on. In fact, they are all so similar that it's sometimes hard to tell them apart.

    "Sometimes you insist that you are not a little girl, and sometimes you insist that you are. What I am curious to know is: How do you really view yourself? As one or the other? As both? As neither?" (30.15)

    Tris doesn't answer Jeanine's interrogation here, but how do you think she would? Does Tris alter her personality depending on what kind of situation she is in? How does this work to her advantage?

  • Mortality

    [Tobias] does know something about loss. He lost his mother when he was young. (2.23)

    Loss comes with the territory in a post-apocalyptic novel. It would be difficult to find a character in any of these books who hasn't lost someone like a parent or sibling.

    "My father is dead." It's the first time I've said it since I told Tobias, on the train ride over, that my parents died for me. "Died" was just a fact to me then, detached from emotion. But "dead," mingling with the churning and bubbling noises in this room, strikes a blow like a hammer to my chest, and the monster of grief awakens, clawing at my eyes and throat. (5.15)

    Strangely, it's changing death from a verb (died) to a noun (dead) that really hits it home for Tris. We guess that, as a Dauntless, she's used to action, action, action, and dying would be just another action for her.

    Years from now, when my memories begin to fade, what will I have to remind me of what [my parents] looked like? (7.49)

    Almost everyone fears they'll forget someone after that person dies. Many people have pictures or videos to remind them of their loved ones. Tris, however, having grown up in Abnegation, doesn't have these things. She has only her memories to rely on, and as we've seen in these books so far, memories are malleable and easily changed or forgotten. She doesn't want to lose her parents forever.

    I don't know how I expected him to say [that his father was dead]—with relief, maybe, because Marcus, his father and the menace of his life, is finally gone. Or with pain and sadness, because his father might have been killed, and sometimes grief doesn't make much sense. But he says it like it's just a fact, like the direction we're moving or the time of day. (7.156)

    Tris is strangely critical of how Tobias chooses to mourn (or not mourn) his father's presumed death. She seems to forget that just seven chapters ago she had no reaction at all to her own parents dying… and she actually liked them.

    Deep inside me I know the answer: I am being reckless. I will probably gain nothing. I will probably die. And more disturbing still: I don't really care. (15.30-15.31)

    By this point, Tris has pretty much accepted her own mortality… and is doing all she can do to accelerate it. Is she fearless or just recklessly suicidal?

    We live in a dangerous world, and I am not so attached to life that I will do anything to survive. (25.53)

    Is Tris's lack of regard for life typical for someone who lives in a war zone, like she does? Or is she a little more reckless regarding death than your average person?

    I don't want to hear the speech Tori will make on Marlene's behalf or be around for the toasting and the shouting as the Dauntless celebrate her life and her bravery. (27.1)

    For someone who acts like she's totally cool with death, Tris has a hard time celebrating a dead person's life. Why do you think that is? As a Dauntless, shouldn't she just go along with the celebration?

    I wish I could tell my parents that I will die like the Abnegation. They would be proud, I think. (34.26)

    Tris is so obsessed with death, she seems to forget that her parents died to save her. If she just sacrifices herself, their sacrifice will be for nothing.

    Rising from within me is a single thought: I don't want to die. (35.26-25.27)

    It takes until she is literally on her deathbed (or death-execution-table) for Tris to decide that she doesn't want to die. What prompts this change of thought? And why does she go back to accepting death just two pages later, after the injection has been administered?

    "Don't be an idiot!" [Fernando] says, his voice weak. "Leave me." (42.65)

    Fernando goes against what is expected of his faction, Erudite, by being so brave in the face of death. By sacrificing himself, he acts more Dauntless than Erudite, don't you think?

  • Rules

    The Dauntless have holidays of their own, I assume, but I don't know what they are. (2.17)

    Maybe the Dauntless are so daring they announce holidays last minute, like the society in The Giver? Do you think it's a little strange that each faction has its own holidays, or does that seem normal to you?

    "The Dauntless wear their hair down, right?" (2.47)

    What, there are faction-specific hairstyles? We'd like to be in the faction with fros, please.

    "Are you putting me in a time-out or something?" (6.49)

    The Amity, a faction seemingly run by adults, punishes people by putting them in a time-out. Seriously? Who created all these rules, an elementary-school principal? Speaking of which, how different is this place from a school?

    "We have to follow protocol," the younger man says. (6.33)

    The way the Amity repeat this over and over as a chant is kind of creepy. Is blind allegiance to rules honorable or strange? How do these rules determine who is loyal and who is a traitor?

    "I think a mistake the Dauntless make is refusing to be cunning," I say. "You don't always have to smack people in the face with how strong you are." (14.98)

    Oh, but they do have to do that, Tris. They do. Part of being in a faction means following the rules, and these rules seem to dictate the basic human behavior of everyone in the faction. Dauntless are expected to respond to everything with violence... and they do.

    "You're more than Dauntless," [Tobias] says in a low voice. "But if you want to be just like them, hurling yourself into ridiculous situations for no reason and retaliating against your enemies without any regard for what's ethical, go right ahead. I thought you were better than that, but maybe I was wrong!" (17.138)

    Tobias is trying to tell Tris that she's more than just the rules of her chosen faction. Dauntless are expected to rush headlong into dangerous situations, but does that mean all common sense has to stop? Is there room in this society to examine the whys behind the rules?

    Sometimes I feel like I am collecting the lessons each faction has to teach me, and storing them in my mind like a guidebook for moving through the world. There is always something to learn, always something that is important to understand. (23.8)

    There are no written rules for life. But there are written rules for each of the five factions. Tris seems to be realizing that, taken separately, they're kind of wacky, but taken together, they might actually make sense. Is that what being "Divergent" is all about? Learning to play by all the rules?

    "Spoken like a true Dauntless," says Caleb sharply. "It's either one way or the other way. No nuances. The world doesn't work like that Beatrice. Evil depends on where you're standing." (33.21)

    Caleb makes a good point here. It's strange how the Dauntless live by rules that make the world black and white, when basic human psychology just doesn't work that way. Can rules like these actually affect the way people think?

    "Take the least logical route!" shouts Tobias. "What?" Peter says. "The least logical route," Tobias says. "So they won't find us!" (36.51-36.53)

    The Erudite follow rules of logic to a fault—the fault being that these people cannot see beyond logic to the fact that humans sometimes often act illogically. So, is it logical to think illogically? Or illogical to always think logically? Our heads hurt just thinking about it.

    [My father] never told me that an Erudite could offer to help me even after I killed her brother. (40.47)

    Tris is starting to realize one thing: that rules cannot govern human nature. There will always be an exception to the rule. No one acts as though their lives are governed by a rulebook—not even the people in these factions.

  • Family

    Caleb wipes his cheeks every few seconds, and I know he's crying but I don't know how to comfort him, or why I am not crying myself. (1.26)

    Tris has a difficult time dealing with her emotions (or lack of emotions) in general, but even more so when it comes to her family. At this point, Caleb is the only family member she has left. She's not sure how to comfort him while he's crying over their parents' deaths, especially since the fact of the matter hasn't really sunk in for Tris yet.

    "Tris […] I'm your brother. You can tell me anything." (4.19)

    Do you think Caleb has decided to turn traitor here? Does he still care about Tris as a sister, or is he using their family link to get her to open up to him?

    "What makes you think I'm interested in spending time anywhere near you?" [Tobias] demands. […] "Because I'm your mother," [Evelyn] says, and her voice almost breaks over the words, uncharacteristically vulnerable. "Because you're my son." (8.105-8.106)

    Evelyn thinks that family trumps anything else, even betrayal. Tobias disagrees. We're not sure what's worse: having two dead parents, like Tris does, or having two lying, scheming parents, like Tobias does.

    I thought I had gotten to the point where I didn't need my brother anymore, but I don't think such a point actually exists. (17.43)

    Tris realizes that she will always need her family, and her brother is all she has left at this point. But we have to ask, just what does Tris need Caleb for? Emotional support or something else? Does he need her for the same reasons?

    Tobias shoves Marcus to the ground and presses the heel of his shoe to his father's throat. (20.16)

    Um, this isn't your typical kind of family argument. Tobias is basically demonstrating here that family doesn't really matter. He doesn't have to be loyal to his dad just because he's his dad. In fact, he can beat the snot out of his dad in public in order to make a statement about just how independent he is.

    I have never thought about what it would be like to have a sister. Would Caleb and I be closer if he were a girl? (21.40)

    We don't think so. Caleb actually seems protective of Tris, at least when it comes to Tobias. But hey, he still betrays her in the end. Would a sister have behaved the same way?

    Lynn is probably still by Shauna's bedside, hoping Shauna can move her legs when she wakes up again. Lynn can't lose Hector. (26.26)

    Tris chooses to save Hector, Lynn's brother, instead of Marlene. Why does she do this? Does she do this because Tris has lost family of her own, and she knows how painful it is? Would Tris have made the same decision if her parents hadn't died?

    "It is that simple. […] At what point did you betray our family? Before our parents died, or after?" (33.6)

    Tris is not happy, to put it mildly, that Caleb has betrayed her. He says that he "did what [he] had to do" (33.7) Do you believe him? Should he have put his family first?

    Evelyn puts one arm around Tobias and touches his face with the other, pressing her cheek to his. […] He smiles at her when he pulls away. Mother and son, reconciled. I am not sure it's wise. (36.90)

    Why is Tris so averse to Tobias and Evelyn reconciling? Don't you think she would reconcile with her brother if given the chance? Or is family not as important to her as she acts like it is?

    "I'll be your family now," [Tobias] says. "I love you," I say. (36.106-36.107)

    This is the first time Tris says she loves Tobias at a time when he can actually hear it. We think she says it now because he says exactly what she needs to hear at the right time. He shows her that she can still have family, even though her parents are dead.

  • Fear

    Caleb doesn't know that Tobias wears his excellence all the time in his own nickname. (3.34)

    This quote is pretty much a recap from the last book, but Tobias is called "Four" because he only has four fears. And spiders aren't one of them.

    [Tobias] still believes that I am strong. Strong enough that I don't need his sympathy. I used to think he was right, but now I am not sure. I clear my throat. (7.149)

    As if Tris's fears aren't complicated enough, she now seems to be afraid that she isn't fearless. What kind of paradox is this?

    I didn't realize until that moment that Dauntless initiation had taught me an important lesson: how to keep going. (7.160)

    Dauntless is a synonym for fearless, and while that may not actually be true (no one in the book is truly fearless), the faction at least teaches people not to be controlled by their fears.

    It's like [Christina's] eyes swell to fill their sockets; that's how big they get. I have trouble identifying her expression. Is it shock? Fear? Awe? (12.46-12.47)

    The mere existence of the Divergent strikes fear into a lot of people. However, the Divergent are mostly feared because they're not understood. It's too bad that the only person who seems to be trying to understand the Divergent, Jeanine, is killed before the end of the book.

    "Distraction. You're so busy worrying about the Divergent—like my mom—that you forget to worry about what the leaders are doing. It's just a different kind of mind control." (14.40)

    Fear is a tactic skillfully employed by certain leaders, especially corrupt ones. A good way for a government to control its populace isn't to make people fear the government… but to make them fear something else. Then they trust the government to keep them safe.

    "So is he still in your fear landscape?" I say. […] "Yes. But not in the same way." (25.50)

    The Dauntless are unique in that they force people to run through simulations of their biggest fears. Do you think this actually causes more fears instead of helping alleviate them? Or is this a good method for overcoming fears?

    "You're in it, though." [Tobias] frowns at his hands. "Instead of having to shoot that woman, like I used to, I have to watch you die. And there's nothing I can do to stop it." (25.52)

    Oh, great: Tobias almost ends up with a new fear. We'd hate to have to call him "Five." Does fearing Tris's death make her more of a liability than an asset?

    "Fear," [Jeanine] says, "is more powerful than pain." (31.42)

    Do you agree with Jeanine here? Is the fear of pain worse than pain itself, or are the two inseparable? If you don't fear something will hurt, will it hurt less?

    I don't want to die I don't want to die I don't want to! (35.30)

    Tris all of a sudden fears death so much that she can't even punctuate her thoughts properly. We have to wonder if she isn't actually fearing death here as much as she's fearing that her death will have no purpose.

    This is what Jeanine was willing to enslave minds and murder people for—to keep us all from knowing. To keep us all ignorant and safe and inside the fence. (47.69)

    Well, Jeanine did say that fear is more powerful than pain. If pain were a driving motivator, they'd simply have to electrify the fence to keep people in. Instead, they make people fear what's outside.