Insurgent Important Quotes

Veronica Roth


  • 36-page comprehensive study guide
  • Features 47 chapter summaries and 6 sections of expert analysis
  • Written by an experienced high school teacher with a PhD in English Literature
Access Full Summary

Insurgent Important Quotes

1. “I shiver. The way he talks about getting out—it’s like he thinks we’re trapped. I never thought about it that way before and now that seems foolish.” (Chapter 1, p. 8)

Tris, Tobias, Caleb, Peter, and Marcus manage to escape Erudite headquarters because Tobias remembers the combination to the lock on the gate. For the first time, it dawns on Tris that the gates have meaning. The symbol of the locked gate here echoes the fact that the characters are physically and mentally trapped by their system. Images of entrapment and escape appear throughout the novel.

2. “I open my eyes, terrified, my hands clutching at the sheets. But I am not running through the streets of the city or the corridors of Dauntless headquarters. I am in a bed in Amity headquarters, and the smell of sawdust is in the air.

I shift, and wince as something digs into my back, I reach behind me, and my fingers wrap around the gun.

For a moment I see Will standing before me, both our guns between us—his hand, I could have shot his hand, why didn’t I, why?—and I almost scream his name.” (Chapter 2, p. 12)

This is one of many times that Tris experiences symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; her PTSD results from her guilt for shooting Will and having witnessed the violent deaths of her mother and father. The trauma of war and the toll it takes is an underlying theme of the novel. As a member of her new faction, Dauntless, Tris finds that violence has severe consequences for her. She has never been at ease with the kind of violence Dauntless celebrates, and when she chooses to use violence, she is haunted by her decision throughout the novel. In fact, she continues to suffer from nightmares for the rest of the novel.

3. “‘This is bizarre,’ I say.

‘I think it’s beautiful,’ he says.

I give him a look.

‘What?’ He laughs a little. ‘They each have an equal role in government; they each feel equally responsible. And it makes them care; it makes them kind. I think that’s beautiful.’” (Chapter 2, p. 18)

Tris watches the Amity decision-making process with disbelief. Tobias sees the process differently; he appreciates the way in which Amity seeks consensus. Whereas Tris sees an unrealistic, utopian dream, Tobias sees harmony and self-determination. This is one of many instances where Tris and Tobias disagree, but also where Tobias teaches Tris that her viewpoint may not always be the most accurate or useful. However, she eventually does learn this quality from him. Expanding her mind and perception of the world is one of many ways in which her relationship with Tobias helps her grow and mature as a person.

4. “What is wrong with you? I shake my head. Pull it together.

And this is what it feels like: pulling the different parts of me up and in like a shoelace. I feel suffocated, but at least I feel strong.” (Chapter 3, p. 20)

Tris gathers herself together after the multiple traumas she has endured: killing Will and watching both of her parents die. Finally, her hope for security is dashed when she learns that the Amity will only let them stay as guests if they pursue peace with their enemies. Tris has no intention of remaining neutral; though she is traumatized, she wants answers, and an end to the Erudite war against Dauntless and Abnegation.

5. “‘The last time I trusted a faction representative with this information, all my friends were murdered,’ he says. ‘I don’t trust anyone anymore.’” (Chapter 3, p. 20)

In his conversation with Johanna, Marcus foreshadows the deterioration of the faction system. The deterioration of trust is a significant theme in the novel. Marcus refuses to tell Johanna the contents of the secret information for which Abnegation members lost their lives, and which was stolen by Erudite when they attacked Abnegation.

6. “‘In order to have peace, we must first have trust,’ Johanna says.” (Chapter 3, p. 21)

Johanna reveals a truth that describes one of the novel’s themes: without trust there can be no peace, no meeting of the minds to create understanding. From the individual level, through the interrelationships between people within their own factions, and between factions, trust has become a scarce and valuable commodity. From this point in the novel, all trust deteriorates between individuals and groups.

7. “The truth has a way of changing a person’s plans.” (Chapter 3, p. 24)

Tris disagrees with Tobias’s assessment of their plans. She believes that their most important priority is to find out what the secret information that Marcus alluded to is, and for which her parents died. Tobias believes they should focus on taking out Erudite and then worry about the secret information. This disagreement is one of many that drive a wedge between Tris and Tobias; their relationship founders because they are so different. Though they are both Divergent, their minds and ways of thinking are very different: Tris seeks truth, while Tobias seeks a more practical end to Dauntless’ physical and political enslavement to Erudite.

8. “He spits the words at me. ‘You may have succeeded in shutting down the attack simulation, girl, but it was by luck alone, not skill. I would die of shock if you managed to do anything useful again for a long time.’

This is the Marcus that Tobias knows. The one who knows right where to hit to cause the most damage.” (Chapter 5, p. 32)

Tris comes to understand Marcus’s arrogance and potential for cruelty first-hand when she tries to offer him her help. She knows that Tobias suffered as a result of his abuse, and she hates him for that, but she also believes she should help Marcus in order to honor her parents’ deaths. They died to protect the information that Erudite stole from Abnegation. Tris tries to see that higher good, despite her extreme dislike of Marcus. Her sense of loyalty to her parents will drive a wedge between Tobias and Tris later in the novel.

9. “I feel the monster of grief again, writhing in the empty space where my heart and stomach used to be.

I gasp, pressing both palms to my chest. Now the monstrous thing has its claws around my throat, squeezing my airway. I twist and put my head between my knees, breathing until the strangled feeling leaves me.” (Chapter 5, p. 34)

Tris frequently experiences symptoms of PTSD, including this nightmare that wakes her, unable to breathe. Though Tris’s ability to think and reason do not seem to be affected by her recent experiences, the reader knows that she cannot be thinking clearly if she is experiencing such symptoms. These symptoms foreshadow Tris’s poor choices.

10. “No factions? A world in which no one knows who they are or where they fit? I can’t even fathom it. I imagine only chaos and isolation.” (Chapter 9, p. 72)

Tris, listening to Evelyn and Tobias discuss Evelyn’s plan to destroy the faction system, finds that she cannot even imagine a life without factions. Her inability to think beyond the current moment is one of ways in which Tris changes through the novel. The girl who cannot imagine life without factions, later makes sacrifices to achieve that goal—true freedom. For the moment, however, Tris can only see the necessity of freedom from the fear and uncertainty of the war against the Erudite.

11. “‘Sometimes drastic change requires drastic measures.’ Evelyn’s shadow lifts a shoulder. ‘I imagine it will involve a high level of destruction.’” (Chapter 9, p. 72)

Evelyn tells Tobias her plan to overthrow Erudite and to replace the current government with a factionless one. Overhearing this conversation, Tris is very disturbed at the thought of that war. Tobias is skeptical that the factionless could overthrow Erudite, but Evelyn asks for his help anyway. The revolution that Evelyn envisions would mean the destruction of a system Tris is only just beginning to question. In addition, though Tobias doesn’t believe in the divisions created by the faction system, as his tattoos of each faction indicate, he doesn’t believe that getting rid of the factions is the answer either.

12. “I do trust you, is what I want to say. But it isn’t true—I didn’t trust him to love me despite the terrible things I had done. I don’t trust anyone to do that, but that isn’t his problem; it’s mine.” (Chapter 13, p. 99)

Tris is hiding the fact that she killed Will, as well as her many trauma symptoms, from Tobias and realizes that she has serious trust issues. Her inability to trust Tobias causes a deep rift in their relationship that she doesn’t seem able to fix. In turn, Tobias keeps some of his own plans to himself, which erodes Tris’s ability to trust him even further. Lack of trust becomes the test of their relationship.

13. “‘You’re more than Dauntless,’ he says in a low voice. ‘But if you want to be just like them, hurling yourself into ridiculous situations for no reason and retaliating against your enemies without any regard for what’s ethical, go right ahead. I thought you were better than that, but maybe I was wrong.’” (Chapter 17, p. 129)

Cracks show in Tris’s relationship with Tobias, as he demands that she explain her repeatedly reckless behavior. She puts her life at risk several times by running into battle without proper weapons or backup. Tobias does not understand that Tris’s actions are motivated by her survivor’s guilt; she does not care whether she lives or dies at this point. However, it is significant that Tobias is honest and straightforward with her. He tells her directly how he feels. Tris does not do this: she is far more distrustful and secretive.

14. “I’m almost afraid of him. I don’t know what to say or do around the erratic part of him, and it is here bubbling just under the surface of what he does, just like the cruel part of me. We both have war inside us. Sometimes it keeps us alive. Sometimes it threatens to destroy us.” (Chapter 20, p. 147)

Tris demonstrates here that she sees herself and Tobias clearly. She is under no illusions as to his character, and she knows herself well too. They are good partners for one another, because they admire the good qualities in each other while acknowledging the not-so-nice parts. This ability makes their relationship strong, yet they are both difficult people, with others and with each other. Tris acknowledges the destructive parts of their natures here.

15. “‘We don’t need you as an ally,’ says Tori. ‘We’re Dauntless.’” (Chapter 24, p. 168)

Tori, now a Dauntless leader, tells Jack Kang, Candor’s leader, that they have no power over Dauntless decisions. Dauntless have just tried and executed Eric, the hostage Jeanine wanted returned to Erudite. Dauntless are also planning to leave with their Divergent colleagues, refusing to turn them over to Erudite. Kang is terrified because, without Dauntless soldiers to protect them, and without meeting Jeanine’s demands, his faction is powerless to enforce any peace treaty with Erudite. The loyal Dauntless have reclaimed their power and identity, as they head back to their own headquarters and plan their future.

16. “I decide to keep the shirt to remind me why I chose Dauntless in the first place: not because they are perfect, but because they are alive. Because they are free.” (Chapter 24, p. 171)

Tris enjoys the solidarity and camaraderie of her faction, as they return to their home, destroying the Erudite cameras with a gigantic paintball fight throughout the Dauntless compound. She is coming to understand that what is at stake is freedom from control, not simply a governmental system. Dauntless’ good qualities remind her of why she values her faction, and the positive qualities her faction brings out in her character too.

17. “I used to think that cruelty required malice, but that is not true. Jeanine has no reason to act out of malice. But she is cruel because she doesn’t care what she does, as long as it fascinates her. I may as well be a puzzle or a broken machine she wants to fix. She will break open my skull just to see the inner workings of my brain; I will die here, and that will be the merciful thing.” (Chapter 29, p. 198)

Tris learns the deep, cold cruelty of Jeanine Matthews and the Erudite. Jeanine has no humanity, only scientific curiosity and a hunger for power without compassion. However, Tris believes that by sacrificing herself, she is saving the other Divergent and buying her Dauntless allies time to defeat Erudite.

18. “‘You die, I die too.’ Tobias looks over his shoulder at me. ‘I asked you not to do this. You made your decision. These are the repercussions.’” (Chapter 29, p. 203)

Tris sees that Tobias has sacrificed himself to Jeanine too, in an attempt to free Tris. She is devastated to discover that he would sacrifice himself for her, though she has sacrificed herself for others. The difference, however, is that Tris was motivated by self-destruction, while Tobias demonstrates true, meaningful self-sacrifice, because he is trying to save his partner. Tris is simply succumbing to her guilt and depression. She does not feel worthy of Tobias’s sacrifice, and by Tobias’s definition, she isn’t. However, he is there to demonstrate, once again, that he supports her, no matter the consequences.

19. “I read somewhere, once, that crying defies scientific explanation. Tears are only meant to lubricate the eyes. There is no real reason for tear glands to overproduce tears at the behest of emotion.

I think we cry to release the animal parts of us without losing our humanity. Because inside of me is a beast that snarls, and growls, and strains toward freedom, toward Tobias, and, above all, towards life. And as hard as I try, I cannot kill it.” (Chapter 30, p. 205)

Though Tris wants to accept the outcome of her choice—death—she realizes that something inside her is stronger than her grief, guilt, or self-destructive urges. The will to live re-emerges in her, despite her desire for the certainty of death.

20. “Every part of my body chants it in unison. Live, live, live. I thought that in order to give my life in exchange for Will’s, in exchange for my parents’, that I needed to die, but I was wrong; I need to live my life in the light of their deaths. I need to live.” (Chapter 35, p. 232)

As she lies on the table awaiting execution, Tris discovers that her longing for the oblivion and death is gone. Finally, she is healed of her self-destructive guilt.

21. “‘I’ll be your family now,’ he says.

‘I love you,’ I say.

I said that once, before I went to Erudite headquarters, but he was asleep then. I don’t know why I didn’t say it when he could hear it. Maybe I was afraid to trust him with something so personal as my devotion. Or afraid that I did not know what it was to love someone. But now I think the scary thing was not saying it before it was almost too late. Not saying it before it was almost too late for me.

I am his, and he is mine, and it has been that way all along.” (Chapter 36, p. 239)

Tris, in her new-found maturity, admits her fears as she allows herself to be vulnerable with Tobias. She no longer wants to hide the negative parts of herself; there is no point because he has seen them already. Tris needed to learn how to be vulnerable and now she knows that she can trust Tobias completely. However, she also knows that she is about to betray Tobias, lending even more urgency to her need to tell Tobias how she feels.

22. “‘Where’s Marcus, Destroyer of Lives, going to meet us?’ Christina says.” (Chapter 39, p. 256)

Christina, Tris’s best friend, joins Tris in her plan to help Marcus retrieve the secret information from Erudite. Though they both hate Marcus, Tris has convinced Christina that the truth is at stake. In addition, Christina here demonstrates her characteristic sarcasm and humor in the face of danger. Christina shares this characteristic with all of the Dauntless; it is one of their defining features.

23. “‘Insurgent,’ he says. ‘Noun. A person who acts in opposition to the established authority, who is not necessarily regarded as a belligerent.’” (Chapter 41, p. 273)

Fernando, Cara’s Erudite colleague, helps Tris, Christina, and Marcus in to break into the Erudite compound. He aptly identifies them as insurgents. They intend to make the information they find available to all of the factions, ending the secrecy that has threatened everyone’s safety and the Divergents’ lives in particular, in direct defiance of the government authorities.

24. “People, I have discovered, are layers and layers of secrets. You believe you know them, that you understand them, but their motives are always hidden from you, buried in their own hearts. You will never know them, but sometimes you decide to trust them.” (Chapter 46, p. 305)

Tris is more comfortable with the uncertainty of life and her relationships, after experiencing great trauma and betrayal, and equally great love, support, and friendship. Having experienced so much, the lessons that she has learned lead her to a greater understanding of people and their complexities. More at peace with herself, she is more understanding of others. Trusting herself, she can now extend that trust to others.

25. “‘What do you think they’re going to do to us when they find us guilty?’ she says after a few minutes of silence have passed.


‘Does now seem like the time for honesty?’

I look at her from the corner of my eye. ‘I think they’re going to force us to eat lots of cake and then take an unreasonably long nap.’” (Chapter 46, p. 305)

At this point, Christina and Tris believe that they will be executed by the Dauntless as traitors for conspiring with Marcus to obtain and share the secret information that so many in Abnegation died to protect. Because they are Dauntless and best friends, they joke about their situation. They do not bemoan their fates, either, having freely chosen their paths. This is what freedom means for them both; freedom to choose…

This is just a preview. The entire section has 3018 words. Click below to download the full study guide for Insurgent.