Thursday, October 11, 2012

Book Report: Divergent

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue--Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is--she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are--and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the literary scene with the first book in the Divergent series--dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.

A literary analysis of the theme of Divergent. This is my 1st quarter written book report. This year, I've learned I love diving into the theme of a book. I don't normally think deeply about a book. It's just there for entertainment, but I enjoyed diving into Divergent, analyzing it. This is one of the first, and only, books that got me thinking. It made me think about human nature and virtues. I am in love with Divergent, and of course, Veronica Roth.

Bravery and Fearlessness: Are They The Same Thing?
Is it braver for someone to say they have no fears or admit to their weaknesses? Is it brave to attack an unsuspecting people without any protection or is that cowardice? Is suicide truly brave or is it the easy way out? Veronica Roth develops the theme of bravery in Divergent through characterization, setting, and action.
One could perceive bravery in two ways. Definition one: bravery is the absence of fear. Definition two: bravery is facing your fears and meeting them head-on. In the Dauntless faction, these are the two ways of thinking. Eric follows the first way of thinking. To be truly brave, a person has to eradicate all fears, admit no weaknesses. This makes him cruel. “A brave man never surrenders.” (p.95) Tris and Four are of the second way of thinking. They believe that bravery is admitting your weaknesses and working to overcome them. “Selfishness and bravery aren't all that different,” (p.336) according to Four. When Al commits suicide, Eric claims he is one of the bravest among them. “Albert is now exploring an unknown, uncertain place...Who among us is brave enough to venture into that darkness without knowing what lies beyond it?” (p.307) Tris is stunned by this belief. “Courageous? Courageous would have been admitting weakness and leaving Dauntless, no matter what shame accompanied it. Pride is what killed Al.” (p.308)
The setting of Divergent allows the characters to encounter their fears often, particularly in the simulations. The aptitude test sorts people into factions through a simulation of which one part is facing a rabid dog with only a knife. The fear simulator is all about controlling fears. Initiates are not conscious that they are in a simulator and believe this is what is really happening. To exit, they must calm themselves to a normal heartbeat. The fear landscapes are designed for a person to encounter all fears and overcome them emotionally and physically. The Dauntless compound is not for the faint of heart, with tens of places you could fall to your death. The worst spot is the chasm, where “the floor drops off at a sharp angle, and several stories below is a river.” (p.64)
The action of Divergent is fast-paced and intense. The actions of Eric and Tris greatly differ because of their different views of bravery. Eric is cruel and tries to kill the innocent and protection-less. Tris is willing to do anything to stop him from killing her parents. And then Tris's mother sacrifices herself to save Tris. This wrecks her world. “Eric called Al's suicide brave, but he was wrong. My mother's death was brave. I remember how calm she was, how determined. It isn't just brave that she died for me; it is brave that she did it without announcing it, without hesitation, and without appearing to consider another option.” (p.450) This sacrifice becomes Tris's standard for bravery. She strives to be brave as her mother was. “I am no longer Tris, the selfless, or Tris, the brave. I suppose that now, I must become more than either.” (p.487)
Through characterization, setting, and action, Veronica Roth develops the theme of bravery in Divergent. People should admit to their weaknesses and carry on despite them. Someone cannot truly be brave when attacking the weak. That is bullying not bravery. And suicide is not being able to face life, taking the easy way out so as to not face their fears. Bravery is selflessness, sacrifice, facing your fears.

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