Quote 4

“Because you’re from Abnegation,” he says, “and it’s when you’re acting selflessly that you are at your bravest.”

In Chapter Twenty-Four, Al has committed suicide and Tris has just attended his funeral. As she angrily denounces Dauntless’s training methods, Four tells her that she needs to be careful. He then makes the above statement about Tris’s bravery, which takes her by surprise. Until recently, Tris assumed that being selfless was a weakness, a relic from her Abnegation upbringing that she had to abandon in order to fully belong in Dauntless. But her Divergence has become an asset during the fear simulations, leading her to see her selflessness in a more positive light. Tobias knows she’s Divergent, so he can talk openly with Tris about honoring her true self. Tobias points out that for Tris, selflessness and bravery aren’t mutually exclusive: she volunteered to take Al’s place and have knives thrown at her, a brave act that was also generous. His observation helps Tris conquer her fear simulations in the next stage of training. When she’s ordered to kill her family, she thinks of his words and offers up her own life, an action that allows her to escape the program without using violence. In a way, Tobias’s observation here saves his life at the end of the book, when Tris refuses to shoot him in order to save herself.