Summary: Chapter 34

A soldier takes Tobias and Tris, who is bleeding profusely, to Jeanine’s hideout at Abnegation headquarters. An Erudite leader in the room refers to Tobias and Tris as “Divergent rebels,” and Jeanine notes that she was suspicious of Tris all along, though she failed to notice Tobias’s Divergence. Tobias sarcastically invites her to kill them, but Jeanine explains that she needs to conduct more tests first. Though the previous mind-numbing serum didn’t affect Divergents, she has created another batch that will. She also wants to learn why most Divergents come from Abnegation, since she plans to create a new government composed of the Erudite, Dauntless, and Candor factions while absorbing Abnegation into her army.

First Jeanine wants to test the new serum on Tobias, which will manipulate him by influencing his perception of his surroundings. Tris will be executed once the meeting is over. Tobias kisses Tris, then lunges at Jeanine, but the guards pin him down so Jeanine can inject him with the serum. The injection makes Tobias think Tris is an enemy, so he tries to choke her. The guards pull him away, and Jeanine sends him to monitor the control room. The guards knock Tris unconscious as they take her away.

Summary: Chapter 35

Tris, weak from blood loss, awakens inside a glass tank. The scenario isn’t a simulation, and the tank begins filling with water. Tris notices a camera pointed at her on a nearby wall and tries unsuccessfully to break out, knowing Jeanine is monitoring her struggle. As she prepares to die, she thinks about God and her family. Just as she begins to drown, her mother appears. She shoots the glass and frees Tris just in time to save her life.

As they escape, Tris confirms that her mother is also Divergent and learns that, in spite of faction conditioning, Divergents’ thoughts can’t be controlled. As they run toward the building where her brother and father are hiding, soldiers approach from both directions. Tris’ mother tells her to run while she distracts the attackers. As Tris runs away, she hears gunshots and sees her mother crumple to the ground, dead. Distraught, she nearly gives up, but she decides to keep running.

Summary: Chapter 36

Tris is chased down an alley by three Dauntless soldiers. She evades two of them and realizes that the last one pursuing her is Will. As he prepares to fire, she shoots him in the head. Next, she follows her mother’s directions to the building where her family is hiding. When Caleb lets her in, she sees they’re with other members of Abnegation, including Marcus. Tris collapses from blood loss, and Caleb and her father remove the bullet from her shoulder and stitch up her wound. Caleb tells Tris he researched the serum as their mother requested. After he learned that Erudite was creating long-range serum transmitters and planned to use them for war, he quit initiation.

Tris explains that Erudite is controlling the Dauntless army and notices that Marcus’ shock at the news seems insincere. She realizes that the computers controlling the army must be at Dauntless headquarters, where Tobias used to work, and proposes they go there to destroy the computer program. She is surprised when her father asks how to help, treating her like a peer.

Analysis: Chapters 34–36

After Tris and Tobias are brought to Jeanine’s headquarters, the full extent of Erudite’s plans is finally revealed. Jeanine’s vendetta against Tris isn’t personal, it’s part of what she considers a necessary effort to remove Abnegation from power. Tris observes that Jeanine is incredibly smart, not sadistic, and she sees the Erudite takeover as the best solution to bad governance by people who are forcing their self-denial on others. Although her actions are cruel, Tris observes that Jeanine is “more machine than maniac.” She follows a logical plan, and mass violence is simply part of her strategy to see that plan through.

It’s no coincidence that Jeanine tries to execute Tris using a glass box like the one in Tris’s fear simulations. The fact that a camera is pointed at Tris as the box fills with water shows that Jeanine sees Tris’s death less as punishment than as a science experiment. It is an opportunity to learn from Tris’s behavior. She still doesn’t fully understand Divergent capabilities, or why so many people from Abnegation wind up Divergent, and this lack of knowledge keeps her from total power over them. Recording Tris as she drowns is a chance to remedy this lack. It allows Jeanine to see how a Divergent person reacts when faced with real, not simulated, death.

Thinking she’s about to die, Tris allows her mind to wander freely, and her thoughts surprise her by reflecting her Abnegation upbringing. God pops into her mind even though she rarely thinks about religion, and we’re reminded that religion is specifically an Abnegation value. Earlier, Tris noted that her father thanks God at dinner, and Tobias, who we now know was also from Abnegation, had the words “Fear God Alone” painted on his dorm wall. The motto suggested he was trying to translate his home faction’s values into Dauntless terminology and behavior. Now, facing death causes Tris to do something similar. She thinks about what kind of person she is and what might happen to her after she dies. She’s especially grateful she doesn’t have killing Eric on her conscience, and though she doesn’t say so explicitly, it’s clear she’s worried that God will judge her in the afterlife.

Tris’s memory of her baptism foreshadows her last-minute rescue by her mother. During their brief reunion, Tris learns that her mother has been Divergent all along. She’s also been looking out for her daughter, even though Tris “abandoned” her family and home faction. Her mother says she doesn’t care about the factions, and her rescue of Tris proves her point. She rejects the motto “Faction before blood” by insisting that familial love transcends social boundaries. Her last words to Tris are “Be brave, Beatrice. I love you.” With these words, she’s advocating both Dauntless behavior and Abnegation values. The statement is bittersweet, since she is shot to death by Dauntless soldiers immediately afterward. By combining Dauntless bravery with Abnegation sacrifice, she shows Beatrice that even though faction divisions aren’t totally meaningless, they are secondary to the bond between family members.

Faction corruption crops up again when Tris reunites with her remaining family members. As she joins her father and Caleb in the hideout, readers get hints that trouble is brewing within Abnegation, not just Dauntless and Erudite. At first, Tris assumed Erudite’s reports accusing Abnegation’s leaders of corruption were false, especially after they published Molly’s fabricated rumors about Tris’s father. However, she also learned that the reports of Marcus’s abusive behavior were correct, forcing her to wonder whether there is truth to the other attacks, as well. Marcus’s strange behavior toward Tris in the hideout further raises her suspicions about Abnegation’s leadership. On the surface, Marcus is all concern, but Tris finds his actions suspect. In particular, she gets the sense that he knows more than he lets on when she explains that Erudite is responsible for the war.