The Divergent series, by Veronica Roth, was published between 2011- 2013. The story follows the 16 year old heroine Beatrice (Tris) Prior and her friends and family in their attempt to “fix” their broken society. Through their story, the themes of government corruption and not conforming to society become incredibly relevant.
The novel starts out with Tris and her brother Caleb preparing for their aptitude tests. This test shows them (or at least is supposed to show them) which faction they belong in or where they fit in. Tris’s results come back inconclusive, therefore she is divergent, and her results are manually recorded as Abnegation. Divergent, according to Merriam-Webster dictionary can be defined as “differing from each other or from a standard.” In the novel, when someone is “divergent” they fit into multiple of the five factions. They do not conform to only one of the five standards. This forcing of choice causes them to conform to the patterns of a specific lifestyle even when if it means not being completely true to whom they are. Specifically in Tris’s case, she fit into Dauntless (the brave), Erudite (the intelligent), and Abnegation (the selfless). By choosing Dauntless she had to suppress her intelligence and ignore the intuition to help others, which in the end proved to be a difficult task.
Later in the novel, Tobias (Tris’ boyfriend and instructor) makes an interesting statement. He says “‘we’ve all started to put down the virtues of the other factions in the process of bolstering our own. I don’t want to do that. I want to be brave, and selfless, and smart, and kind, and honest.’” In this statement, Tobias is saying that he does not want to conform to what the government tells him to do. He wants to be more than just what the government wants him to be. This is similar to a scene in The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins. In the scene, Peeta tells Katniss that he “doesn’t want to be another piece in their games.”
In 1849, Henry David Thoreau wrote Civil Disobedience. He started out by saying “I heartily accept the motto, ‘That government is best which governs least.’” Basically, he did not like the government; seeing it as unjust or unfair. Later in this narrative, Thoreau discusses an encounter with the church, they said “pay […] or be locked up in the jail.” He chose the latter. He said that he never attended church so why pay.
Thoreau question what the government did. He did not just blindly follow everything that they said. In Divergent, Tris has a similar mindset. After her aptitude test, Tori tells her that she is divergent – that she is dangerous. Throughout conversations that Tris has it is made known why the divergent are dangerous. The government cannot control them or predict their actions. They do not just blindly follow, they are aware and able to see things from several perspectives. Tris and Tobias did not want to be just one thing. They did not want to conform to this standard, just like Thoreau did not...