Tris Aggressively Butters Toast: Divergent Chapters 26 & 27

Posted on September 4, 2014 by

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So the origin of Four’s name was revealed. Can you remember how Four got his name?

Four fears. Yup. [Matthew says: Everyone reading this post is currently running a mental tally of how many sex positions they know.]

Chapter 26

Tris and Four hold hands and Tris is like OMG. Actually, it’s dumber than that.

“HAND IN HAND, we walk toward the Pit. I monitor the pressure of my hand carefully. One minute, I feel like I’m not gripping hard enough, and the next, I’m squeezing too hard.”

The sentiment itself isn’t what makes this so strange to read – of course your first time holding hands with a boy (especially when you’re from a faction like Abnegation) might cause a lot of goofy worries to race through your head. I just find it hard to believe that “I monitor the pressure of my hand carefully” would be one of them. [Matthew says: Well, we already know Tris is really into hands.]

“So…” I latch on to the last logical thought I remember. “Four fears.”

Stripping the word “logical” out of that statement would have made this true.

Four says that he had four fears when he started and four fears now, and that nothing has changed. What’s jarring about this scene is that Tris has started calling Four by his given name (Tobias). For clarity, I’ll still refer to him as Four, but some quotes may refer to him as Tobias.

Tris asks Four what his results were in the aptitude test.

“My result was as expected,” he says. “Abnegation.”

“Oh.” Something inside me deflates. I am wrong about him.

But—I had assumed that if he was not Divergent, he must have gotten a Dauntless result. And technically, I also got an Abnegation result—according to the system. Did the same thing happen to him? And if that’s true, why isn’t he telling me the truth?

Four also explains that he had to leave Abnegation because of his abusive father. Four also goes on to say that he doesn’t always feel like he really belongs in Dauntless even though he’s sooo totally awesome and only has four fears. [Matthew says: This is like reading a bunch of middle schoolers realize that just because they listen to Nine Inch Nails, they don’t have to shop at Hot Topic.]

He says, “I have a theory that selflessness and bravery aren’t all that different. All your life you’ve been training to forget yourself, so when you’re in danger, it becomes your first instinct. I could belong in Abnegation just as easily.”

You’re telling me that not everyone has this realisation? This would be like if only one person out there realized that Oreos were delicious. It just isn’t a very well kept secret.

After some more awkwardly exchanged compliments, Four tells Tris he likes her.

Just like that, he has finally declared himself, and I don’t know how to respond. My cheeks warm, and all I can think to say is, “But you’re older than I am…Tobias.”

A YA favourite! Oh ma gerrrd he’s a whole two years older! ~Swooooon~

To be fair, Four points out that this age gap is pretty dull as far as age gaps go. It’s certainly no Monica/Richard (that’s your Friends shoutout for the month.)

If this chapter wasn’t already YA enough for you, here’s the scene where Tris expresses lots of self doubt and shock that anyone could be interested in her. Sorry, I can’t even single YA out this happens in plenty of “adult” novels like Fifty Shades. [Matthew says: So maybe this is if this chapter didn’t have enough of the patriarchy for you. Because maybe for some reason this is of concern to you?]

“I’m not trying to be self-deprecating,” I say, “I just don’t get it. I’m younger. I’m not pretty. I—”

Why couldn’t Tris just keep acting like Tris and not say stuff like this? Part of what I like about her is that it’s not easy to get her to show vulnerability and she seems to feel kind of gross whenever she shows any. I don’t know why this moment would completely change that even if omgaboy told her he was into her.

He laughs, a deep laugh that sounds like it came from deep inside him, and touches his lips to my temple.

“Don’t pretend,” I say breathily. “You know I’m not. I’m not ugly, but I am certainly not pretty.”

“Fine. You’re not pretty. So?” He kisses my cheek. “I like how you look. You’re deadly smart. You’re brave. And even though you found out about Marcus…” His voice softens. “You aren’t giving me that look. Like I’m a kicked puppy or something.”

I find this scene appallingly awkward. Does Veronica Roth think this is supposed to be daring because Tris’ love interest tells her she’s not pretty but that he likes he anyway? Like she’s championing all non-pretty girls in the world as though there’s one standard for what make someone pretty? Hey guys, you’re not pretty, not even a guy who likes you will think you’re pretty, but he’ll be cool with the way you look and love you for your insides and how you don’t care if he’s damaged. [Matthew says: F’reals, let’s think about this for a second. At its core, this is basically a “it’s not what’s on the outside, but what’s on the inside that counts”. That’s a GOOD message, and even THAT got distorted into a patriarchical “you’re so special, only you can help ME with my MAN PAIN” if the writing frames it the wrong way.]

For a few minutes we kiss, deep in the chasm, with the roar of water all around us. And when we rise, hand in hand, I realize that if we had both chosen differently, we might have ended up doing the same thing, in a safer place, in gray clothes instead of black ones.

Abnegation doesn’t sound like a very big faction, and given their fathers worked together in the government, I don’t get how Tris never saw Four when they were both in Abnegation together for what 14 years if Tobias left when he was 16 and Tris was 14?

Chapter 27

It’s weird how in one chapter I can be really annoyed with how Tris/Four is treated, and in the next I’m totally cool with it.

Tris is really happy and can’t stop smiling the next day, and she wonders what’s going to happen when Four walks into the cafeteria. Will he smile at her? Wave? Burp in her general direction?

I grab a piece of toast from the plate in the middle of the table and start to butter it with a little too much enthusiasm. I feel myself acting like a lunatic, but I can’t stop. It would be like refusing to breathe.

Dear teenage girls of America, always be yourself and butter your toast any way you like!

[Matthew says: I rather liked this scene, interestingly. It reminded me of, like, that nervous anticipation in college when you’re in the cafeteria, waiting to see when the person you finally hooked up with the previous night will come in. It seemed like a very honest portrayal of that, and boy do those emotions look silly from the outside.]

Then he walks in. His hair is shorter, and it looks darker this way, almost black. It’s Abnegation short, I realize. I smile at him and lift my hand to wave him over, but he sits down next to Zeke without even glancing in my direction, so I let my hand drop.

I stare at my toast. It is easy not to smile now.

Awww Tris! Poor sad Tris and toast. “You’re my only boyfriend now, Toast.” Tris whispered sadly at the toast that she’d buttered in a fit of joy moments before.

Later, it’s time for more fear landscapes. [Matthew says: Everyone’s favorite thing that is totally different from the previous fear simulations.]

Lauren, the instructor of the Dauntless-born initiates, stands with her hands on her hips outside the fear landscape room.

“Two years ago,” she says, “I was afraid of spiders, suffocation, walls that inch slowly inward and trap you between them, getting thrown out of Dauntless, uncontrollable bleeding, getting run over by a train, my father’s death, public humiliation, and kidnapping by men without faces.”

I wonder if my fear landscape would be this mix of usual but also weirdly specific fears. Like would it be along the lines of “I’m scared of having my eyeballs stabbed with glass or slit with razors, getting diarrhea in public, getting pushed off the Eiffel Tower, being beaten up by 1-2 members of One Direction, Chipotle going out of business, and being forced by men without faces to eat hotpockets for every meal”? [Matthew says: See, this is why I’m calling bullshit on this whole “these are your only fears ever” concept. Anyone who says they aren’t scared of getting diarrhea in public is a goddamned liar.]

“Most of you will have anywhere from ten to fifteen fears in your fear landscapes. That is the average number,” she says.

“What’s the lowest number someone has gotten?” asks Lynn.

“In recent years,” says Lauren, “four.”

Woah. That person sounds so cool they should be named after this sweet fact!

Today, everyone will be going through Lauren’s fear simulation somehow. More specifically, they’ll each be facing one of her fears. I give up even trying to remotely understand how this is meant to be feasible. [Matthew says: I don’t understand why this would be useful. One person’s getting beaten up by two members of One Direction is another person’s wet dream. Hypothetically.]

While waiting for their turn, the initiates can only watch the reaction of the initiates currently participating in the fear landscape.

It is the perfect way to distract myself from my preoccupation with Tobias—clenching my hands into fists as Will brushes off spiders I can’t see and Uriah presses his hands against walls that are invisible to me, and smirking as Peter turns bright red during whatever he experiences in “public humiliation.” Then it’s my turn.

I hope Peter’s public humiliation is just various ways that Tris can embarrass him in public, like pulling his towel off and having everyone point and laugh at his penis or something. I mean, that’s pretty much what he deserves if we’re doing an eye for an eye.

When it’s her turn, Tris fails the simulation because Lauren’s fear becomes her own or some nonsense. It would make sense if Tris intentionally failed this, but given she’s meant to be great at overcoming these fears because of her Divergent as fuckness, I don’t understand.

For unknown reasons to Tris, Four acts like a douche. For known reasons to us he acts like a douche because he must hide love away or what have you:

“What the hell was that, Stiff?”

“I…” My breath comes in a hiccup. “I didn’t—”

“Get yourself together! This is pathetic.”

Something within me snaps. My tears stop. Heat races through my body, driving the weakness out of me, and I smack him so hard my knuckles burn with the impact. He stares at me, one side of his face bright with blush-blood, and I stare back.

“Shut up,” I say. I yank my arm from his grasp and walk out of the room.

I wish every chapter ended with someone telling Four to shut up. I don’t know you guys, it’s not that I find him quite as unappealing as other love interests in the books we read here, but I certainly am not a fan. How do you guys feel about Four/Tobias?

 

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Posted in: Divergent