Divergent: A Dark Vision of the Future

Sarah Modzelewski, Staff Writer

*Warning: Spoilers ahead!*

Fans of dystopian fiction went wild when the Divergent film series was released. They would likely rank Divergent as one of the three essential series to watch along with The Maze Runner and The Hunger Games. The series is set in a gated city named Chicago (very different from the Windy City we know today) that has broken society into factions. Citizens are grouped according to talents and relegated to the same faction for their whole life. People are sorted into the following sectors: Abnegation (or the selfless); Erudite (the intellectuals); Dauntless (the brave–the faction of societal protectors and peacekeepers, like guards and city security); Candor (the truthtellers), and Amity (the peace-loving). 

In this series, we follow Tris (Shailene Woodley) in her journey to select the faction she will join for the rest of her life. She was raised in Abnegation, and we meet her as she must decide her fate in society. When it comes time, Tris chooses to be in Dauntless. In order to be accepted in the faction, she must complete a series of tests to see if she can solve problems like her Dauntless peers. If she fails these tests, she will be shunned and named factionless in society.

However, we soon discover that Tris is a Divergent. She does not just belong in one faction but has the capability to be in any. Faction leaders consider Divergents to be dangerous people in society because their minds are capable of more than one way of thinking. Tris must pass the tests to protect herself from the danger she will encounter if her true identity is exposed. While in Dauntless, she meets some loyal companions who stay by her side until the end of the series. Chief among them is her mentor and teacher Four (Theo James). As Tris struggles to fight her way to the top of the rankings in her tests, Four helps to keep her identity hidden. He is her rock throughout the series, and Tris reciprocates the role for him as we learn more of his hidden past: they are both Divergents, of course.

In the first movie, we are drawn into this fantasy and first enveloped by the Dauntless underworld in Chicago. The rebellious setting of the Dauntless is established through dark hideaways and broken old buildings these fearless crusaders climb with ease. “The Pit,” an open cavern, is the central location in the Dauntless social order, where the key events of this faction unfold.  The mood in Dauntless is unsettled, while Abnegation, a peaceful but bland realm, is often distinguished through its members’ minimalist appearance in grey clothing and the monotonous skyline of grey buildings. Dauntless perform action-packed stunts to flaunt their prowess, in contrast to the selfless citizens of Abnegation who are forbidden from looking in the mirror too long. They so value serving others above themselves that these devoted souls refrain from attracting attention to themselves. In contrast, in the dark and grungy world the Dauntless inhabit, citizens are constantly fighting, practicing stunts, pulling tricks and inking themselves with tattoos that proclaim their talents. By the second and third movies, as the novelty of this world fades a bit, the characters develop and their relationships expand beyond the typical theatrics of a dystopian narrative. Four and Tris become closer through their bond of being Divergents in a society where they are feared. 

The last movie of the series has unfortunately been canceled, which leaves us as viewers hanging. Although I am unable to speak for the timeline of events that occur in the final book, it would have been interesting to see the action of it come to life. I guess we will be left perpetually expecting more. Maybe it’s time I actually read the books!