At the Inquiry Hub, I started to read the book, “Divergent,” by Veronica Roth. I am trying to get through the book with a number of students before the movie is released in theatres in March 2014.
The story begins (Chapters 1-3) with the protagonist Beatrice Potter going to school for an aptitude test which will allow her to Choose one of five factions she would like to belong to for the rest of her life including the last years of her high school education. The five factions are: Abnegation – to which Beatrice’s family belongs, Erudite, , Dauntless, Candor and Amity. Members of Abnegation, we are told, are characterized by their selflessness and their priority to place the needs of the community before their personal interests. Erudite honours the pursuit of knowledge and reasoned actions. Dauntless members value courage and bravery. Candor always value the truth and speaking the truth. And Amity I believe might just be friendly and good-natured. These factions have a history, we are led to believe, and their existence is tied to the seemingly dystopian society. The city is falling apart in general but also has rebuilt building. There is an underclass – the factionless – who have much less than the rest and take on jobs not filled by the five factions, for example, waste management and bus driving. Yet they are not paid enough to have a comfortable life.
Beatrice could choose to remain with her family, but unlike her brother, Caleb, in the same school year, she does not know she belongs to Abnegation. The aptitude test, consisting of several scenarios, are meant to eliminate one or another of the factions until you can see which one your actions correspond to. However, you still have the opportunity to choose which faction you want.
Beatrice’s test results are different and ambiguous. According to the examiner, Beatrice is Divergent. This means that Beatrice might be suited to Erudite, Abnegation, or Dauntless. The examiner cautions Beatrice not to share these results with anyone and instructs Beatrice to go home and think about the choice she will have to make tomorrow.
It is clever that Roth positions the protagonist as an outsider who does not fit one mold and feels like she is more than society will permit her to be. This positions the reader to readily identify with Beatrice because the reader will likewise not simply feel a connection to a single faction. Very clever for making the reader empathize with the character. I look forward to continuing the story.