Study Guide

Insurgent Mortality

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[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?

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