Study Guide

Insurgent Identity

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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?

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