Divergent Themes

Veronica Roth


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Divergent Themes

Social Divisions 

The backdrop of this novel is a city that has been divided into five factions: Abnegation, Dauntless, Erudite, Candor, and Amity. This faction system was established decades ago in the belief that warfare is caused not by religion, nationalism, race, or political ideology but rather the human personality. The factions were intended to eradicate the qualities people deemed responsible for conflict: those who blamed selfishness, for example, formed Abnegation, while those who blamed cowardice formed Dauntless.

Each faction favors—or demands—certain characteristics while guarding against others. However, Tobias voices the opinion that it is not beneficial to split characteristics up in this way: as he states, he wants to be brave, selfless, smart, honest, and kind. This would certainly seem a more balanced arrangement in contrast to the narrow restrictions imposed within factions. Rather than thinking in either/or terms, then, Tobias favors an outlook that recognizes human personalities as multi-faceted.

It was initially believed that the factions would complement one another and exist in harmony, but it becomes apparent that this is not always the case. Though representatives from the other factions have a say in meetings, the city’s governing body is made up solely of Abnegation representatives due to the moral fortitude, selflessness, and leadership skills associated with this faction. Tris thinks that this system persists because people are afraid of what might happen if it did not: war. However, as we see, this system ultimately leads to war. Indeed, it is inevitable that not everyone is happy with this arrangement, and we see the signs of this early in the novel when Tris’s father talks about the lies that Erudite are spreading about Abnegation and the increasing antagonism between the two factions.

The methods used by Erudite range from libelous claims to outright murder, but Erudite’s dissatisfaction raises the question of whether it is right for one faction alone to comprise the city’s governing body. Will raises this point, suggesting, “Maybe it’s a good idea to have more than one faction in control of the government. And maybe it would be nice if we had more cars and…fresh fruit and…”…

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