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The next day, Eric is in a bad mood from losing capture the flag. He announces that the first training stage is almost over and orders everyone to take a dagger from a table in the center of the room. Four demonstrates how to throw the knives at a target, and Tris practices the movement before actually throwing. Peter mocks her, but she’s the first person to hit the target. Meanwhile, Al fails to land a single hit. After Eric rebukes him, he misses intentionally, and Eric orders him to pick up the knife while the others are still throwing. When Al refuses, Eric orders him to stand at the target while Four throws knives around him. Four questions his decision, and Eric reminds him that he’s the leader. Angry, Tris calls Eric a bully and volunteers to take Al’s place. Four throws three knives at her, nicking her ear with the last one. Eric is impressed, but Tris recoils from his praise and worries that her Divergence is showing. After everyone else leaves, she accuses Four of hurting her on purpose. She’s confused and frustrated when he says she should be grateful to him for helping her.
It’s the day before Visiting Day and the final day of stage one training. After her shower, Tris discovers that her pants no longer fit her muscled legs. She leaves the girls’ bathroom wearing only a towel, hoping no one sees her, but Peter, Molly, and Drew are in the dorm. They mock her body, calling it childlike, and snatch her towel away, leaving her naked. She runs back to the bathroom and stifles sobs of embarrassment, then changes into the dress she managed to retrieve from her room. She decides she wants to hurt them, especially Peter.
Tris changes into more appropriate fighting clothes and heads to the training room. Wanting revenge, she hopes she’ll be assigned to spar with Peter. Instead, she’s been paired with Molly, the next best option. She watches as Al surrenders quickly to Christina, a strategy he’s been using since his first fight. When Tris and Molly’s turn comes, Molly again insults Tris’ body. Tris knocks Molly to the floor and kicks her repeatedly, drawing blood and prompting Four to wrestle her away.
On Visiting Day, Eric advises the trainees not to get too attached to their families, as the Dauntless are strict about the motto “Faction before blood.” He then compliment’s Tris’s victory over Molly, making her question her violence. At the Pit, she is relieved to see her mother, whom she didn’t expect to come. Her mother is apologetic for her father’s absence, and Tris is surprised to hear her say he’s been selfish lately. Her mother also reveals that Erudite has prohibited members of Abnegation from visiting their compound, so she can’t see Caleb.
Next, Tris’s mother spots Four and introduces herself to him. He tells her Tris is doing well, and she says he looks familiar. Then they meet Al’s mother, who can’t find him anywhere, and Will’s sister, who hostilely accuses Abnegation of hoarding food. Tris’s mother leads Tris to a remote hallway and asks about Tris’s training and test results. She advises Tris to stay ranked in the middle, then asks her to visit Caleb and convince him to research the test simulation serum. As she leaves, Tris realizes her mother must have grown up Dauntless.
Tris is still struggling to define herself within Dauntless, so every day, and sometimes from moment to moment, she seesaws between confidence and fear. But on balance, she seems to be getting braver. On the initiates’ first day of training, Tris hesitated to help Christina when Eric forced her to hang over the chasm. Now, however, she wastes no time offering to take Al’s place when Eric orders him to face the others’ knives. She can tell Four also thinks Eric’s leadership style is cruel, but she doesn’t rely on his support. She has developed enough confidence to challenge Eric herself.
Along with her mental development, Tris is surprised to discover that she’s experiencing physical changes. Her new muscles are evidence that her body is changing the way Dauntless wants it to. It is becoming strong, hardened, and ready for any obstacle. Tris needs this new toughness not just to make it through the initiation tests, but also to survive torment from the other initiates. The fact that Peter, Drew, and Molly have a vendetta against Tris becomes clear when they verbally attack Tris’s body and steal her towel, humiliating her and making her feel small and vulnerable. But instead of letting them see her cry, she stifles her sobs in the hallway and tells herself “I don’t care,” a mantra she often repeats to get through stressful situations. Although the episode is degrading, the only response Tris wants the others to see is anger. By brutally attacking Molly during their scheduled fight, Tris consciously embraces her new physical strength and the selfishness she might otherwise hide.
Tris is maturing, but there are moments when she realizes she still has growing up to do. Her reunion with her mother on Visiting Day shows her walking the line between child and adult. On one hand, she is eager to display her new independence, while on the other, she misses her family and wants comfort for her homesickness. Much like at the Choosing Ceremony, Tris’s mother is less angry about Tris’s choice to leave than Tris imagines, and perhaps hopes, she will be. Tris expects their conversation to revolve around her faction switch, which she perceives as a betrayal of her family. Instead, her mother seems pleased to find that Tris is thriving in Dauntless.
When Tris’s mother gently criticizes Tris’s father, implying that his hurt at his daughter’s departure is selfish, Tris gains a small window into her parents’ complexity as humans and as a couple. She has never before considered the possibility that they might not be utterly selfless, or that they might have worries besides their children’s happiness. Her mother also comments that Four is handsome, a humorous hint that she’s more observant than Tris gives her credit for. These revelations reveal there is much Tris doesn’t know about her parents, not to mention about adult relationships in general.
Tris has trouble imagining that her mother has a life beyond the one she has revealed to her children. Thus, she is shocked when her mother’s questions reveal her deep knowledge of the Dauntless compound and its training procedures. Tris is both taken aback and impressed, since she’s never seen this side of her mother before. Eventually, she realizes that her mother must have been Dauntless at one time, though she’s always seemed at home in Abnegation. Her mother’s questions also suggest she knows Tris is Divergent, hinting that her mother knows more about the faction testing process than Tris previously realized.