What role do heights play in the novel?
Tris has multiple opportunities to prove her bravery during Dauntless initiation, and many of them involve jumping from great heights. On the first day of training, she’s the first person to jump from the roof of Dauntless headquarters into the Pit entrance seven stories below. The act impresses her peers and immediately earns her a reputation for courage, helping her shed the “Stiff” label often applied to members of Abnegation. During the game of capture the flag at Navy Pier, she again takes the initiative and climbs a giant Ferris wheel, allowing her to spot the location of the rival team. And later, she zip lines off the roof of the Hancock building with the Dauntless-born initiates. The ritual energizes her and helps convince the other trainees that she truly belongs in the faction. For others in the novel, heights represent danger. They are one of Tobias’s main fears, and Al commits suicide by jumping off the edge of the chasm into the river. By contrast, even after Peter nearly drops Tris over the chasm railing, she continues to seek out the thrill of heights.
What position does the novel take regarding truth and deceit?
For Tris, dishonesty is a necessary tool rather than an automatic evil, and because readers identify with her as the narrator and protagonist, they may find themselves thinking the same way. Early in the book, readers learn that Tris doesn’t believe in total honesty. During the Choosing Ceremony in Chapter Five, she notes, “I have never liked Candor,” a sentiment consistent with her earlier willingness to lie during her aptitude test. Her negative view of the faction is challenged somewhat when she becomes friends with Christina, a girl from Candor whose forthrightness makes her likeable and trustworthy. On the other hand, Tris’s enemies are also Candor transfers. Contrary to their faction values, Peter, Molly, and Drew lie constantly, perhaps because they’re accustomed to being believed no matter what. Peter stealthily sabotages Tris and Edward and never confesses to his actions, while Molly tells blatant falsehoods about Tris’s father to an Erudite newspaper reporter.
Tris also lies both openly and by omission. But unlike Peter and Molly, whose deceptions cause harm, Tris lies to protect herself and others. From the moment she completes her aptitude test, she must conceal the fact that she’s Divergent from everyone around her in order to remain safe. She also lies when Jeanine questions her about her test results, sensing that telling the truth is likely to get her killed. At the same time, she recognizes the value of lies that help others. For example, after Edward has been stabbed in the eye, she tells him everything will be all right even when she suspects it won’t.
How does Tris’s relationship with her father change over the course of the book?
Tris’s father is an Abnegation leader, and she sometimes finds herself frustrated by his complete devotion to the faction’s principles. In the fourth chapter, she observes that he refuses to acknowledge religious differences between Abnegation families, since doing so only creates divisions and conflict. Tris says she “is not sure what to make of that,” suggesting that she doesn’t necessarily agree that disagreement should be avoided at all costs. By leaving to join the Dauntless, whose members her father refers to as “hellions,” Tris openly rebels against his pious values. She can tell he is furious when she leaves the Choosing Ceremony, and he refuses to join her mother on Visiting Day.
When Tris reunites with her father and Caleb during the Dauntless uprising, their relationship changes from one of parent and child to one of equals. She has proven herself worthy among the Dauntless initiates, and her father soon learns to respect her confident decisions. Initially, he rebukes her for shooting Peter in the arm and killing several guards. She refuses to allow them to be killed out of respect for Abnegation’s nonviolent principles, however, and he soon agrees the circumstances require him to change his ethical stance. When he shoots several guards and sacrifices his life to help Tris get to the control room, he demonstrates that he’s adopted Tris’s perspective on the relationship between selflessness and bravery.