Insurgent Major Character Analysis

Veronica Roth


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Insurgent Major Character Analysis

Beatrice Prior (Tris)

Born into Abnegation, 16-year-old Tris joins Dauntless at the Choosing Ceremony, beginning a new adventure and understanding of her own character. Tris loses both her mother and father, who is an Abnegation leader, in the first hours of the Erudite faction war. As the novel opens, Tris has also just killed her friend, Will, in self-defense. The battle and its aftermath, particularly Tris’s ability as a Divergent mind to evade Erudite mind-control, drive both the plot of the novel and Tris’s growth toward adulthood.

As a result of the trauma Tris sustained in the first novel and her subsequent feelings of guilt, she repeatedly risks her own life throughout this novel, culminating in the self-destructive but selfless act of turning herself over to Jeanine, rather than see anyone else suffer. Ultimately, her reckless, guilt-drive behavior forces her to confront the darkness within her: her suicidal thoughts and beliefs.

As Jeanine tests and experiments upon Tris’s mind, Tris gains strength through her ability to defeat Jeanine’s simulation serums. For example, in the first simulation, Tris has a conversation with her mother, which Tris finds healing. Ultimately, Tris defeats Jeanine, as she states: “I laugh, mirthless, a mad laugh. I savor the scowl on her face, the hate in her eyes. She was like a machine; she was cold and emotionless, bound by logic alone. And I broke her” (225).

Tris’s imprisonment by Erudite, though brutal, teaches her that she cannot be controlled. Furthermore, Tris comes to recognize that the current revolution is about control, particularly mind-control, and freedom from it. Freedom of choice that comes from freedom from mind-control is the point of Divergence and its power.

Tobias Eaton (Four)

Tobias Eaton, also known as Four, is another Divergent character. At age 18, he is a Dauntless instructor, and over the course of the novel, he becomes a Dauntless leader. He and Tris are a couple as the novel begins. Throughout the novel, Tobias struggles to maintain an honest and open relationship with Tris, while facing challenges from his past.

Tobias has his own demons, primarily in the form of his abusive father and absent mother. The primary conflict between Tris and Tobias arises as a result of his reconciliation with his mother, Evelyn. As the leader of the factionless, Evelyn encourages Tobias to become a Dauntless leader and her ally in the faction war. Tris does not trust Evelyn and believes that she is only using Tobias. Tobias believes that he has a real relationship with Evelyn, and blames his father, Marcus, for driving her out of their home when he was a child.

However, Tobias is unshakable in his belief and support for Tris, whatever reservations she has about him or his family, and despite her tendency to hide things from him. Even when Tris betrays him by supporting Marcus, he is able to look beyond his own hurt to see the truth. Tobias’s Divergence expresses itself most strongly in his flexible acceptance of others and their points of view. He is a respected leader because he listens to others and incorporates the knowledge he gains from them into his plans.

Caleb Prior

Tris’s brother, Caleb, serves knowledge and what he sees as a higher good, rather than remaining loyal to his family. He chooses his faction, Erudite, over his family. Though Tris repeatedly gives Caleb the benefit of the doubt, Caleb betrays Tris’s trust and gives Jeanine significant private information about Tris, allowing her to be tortured sentenced to death.

Caleb represents the possibility that even the most intelligent and rational minds can be controlled and manipulated by others, who are even more ruthless than they are. Caleb represents the fatal flaw of the Erudite: an arrogant belief in their own superior ability to know what is best for all, and forcing their desire upon others “for their own good.”


Christina is Tris’s closest friend. As a Candor-born Dauntless, Christina brings an essential blunt truth and honest emotion to her relationship with Tris. She is absolutely trustworthy, and Tris trusts her completely.

Tris and Christina are estranged for a portion of the novel, when Tris confesses under the effects of the Candor truth serum that she shot Will, Christina’s boyfriend. However, Christina soon sees the effects of the simulation for herself and forgives Tris.

In fact, Christina is the only person whom Tris trusts implicitly. Significantly, Christina provides more support and assistance for Tris’s plan to liberate the secret file than Tobias does. While Tris includes Christina in her confidence and her plans, she explicitly excludes Tobias. Even when they are temporarily arrested as war criminals and traitors, Christina maintains her sense of humor and support of Tris. They rely on each other.

Evelyn Eaton (Factionless Leader)

Driven out of her home by her abusive husband, Evelyn left Tobias behind because she believed that Marcus could provide better protection for their Divergent son. However, Marcus was controlling and mentally, emotionally, and physically abusive to Tobias. Tobias grew up believing that his mother was dead.

In fact, Evelyn lived among the factionless, rising to a leadership position as an outspoken proponent of a revolution that would topple the current government and the faction system. When the unrest between Abnegation and Erudite reached its climax, Evelyn made contact with Tobias, letting him know that she was alive and trying to explain why she left.

Evelyn’s intentions toward Tobias remain a mystery throughout the novel. While Tris never trusts her and believes that she is only using Tobias for the manpower he can deliver as a Dauntless leader, Tobias believes that her efforts at a relationship with him come from real feeling. Tobias does align the Dauntless with the factionless as a result of her influence and persuasion, and Tris sees this as proof of Evelyn’s self-serving manipulation. At the end of the novel, when Evelyn declares an end to the factions, she is pre-empted by the secret video that changes everything.

Marcus Eaton (Abnegation Leader)

Tobias’s abusive father Marcus represents the abuse of power hidden under a mask of selfless service and respectability. Marcus is an esteemed Abnegation leader, though his difficult family life—which involves abusing his son and driving his wife away—belies his public status. Marcus is a secondary antagonist in this novel, and Tobias’s nemesis.

Though Marcus is initially dismissive of Tris, in the end, she is the only one who believes, as he does, that the secret information for which so many Abnegation members died must become public. Though Tris loathes Marcus personally, she aligns herself with him to achieve a higher goal: the protection and dissemination of the truth about the origins of their society.

Significantly, it is through Tris and Tobias’s actions that the video is disseminated. Marcus’s role is limited by his inability to get past Jeanine’s security simulation, which Tris defeats. Symbolically, therefore, the next generation—represented by Tris and Tobias—has the flexibility and intelligence to lead others into the future, while Marcus’s future power appears to be muted.

Johanna Reyes (Amity Leader)

As Amity’s spokeswomen, rather than their leader, Johanna represents the power of peace. By leaving Amity to help in the battle, she shows that peace is not the same as inaction. Her actions, in protecting the innocent during the battle, indicate that peace is all very well until people are under attack. If you stand aside while your neighbor is destroyed, you can expect to be next. Not all who support others during battle must be direct combatants.

Jack Kang (Candor Leader)

The Candor leader, Jack Kang, strives to hold on to the independence of his faction and fails. In the end, Candor does not have any leverage or in the revolution. Kang attempts to bargain with Erudite for peace, but he has nothing to offer Erudite, and he refuses to offer protection to or enter the fight to help his fellow factions, rendering himself and his faction irrelevant in the current struggle. Symbolically, Roth seem to indicate that honesty can be the first casualty in a revolution.

Jeanine Matthews (Erudite Leader)

The primary antagonist of the novel, Jeanine Matthews represents the height of misplaced intellectual curiosity; she is shown to exploit and enforce power over others. Jeanine heads the faction responsible for wondrous technological advances, such as healing salves, and hydroponic plant growth, but it is also responsible for hideous mind-control serums used to manipulate and kill.

Cold, manipulative, and endlessly calculating, Jeanine represents scientific power gone mad. Her belief that she is protecting all of the factions by keeping the truth about their society’s origins secret arises from the arrogant belief that she alone knows what is best for everyone else. This intellectual arrogance is her fatal flaw, and, in turn, represents the fatal flaw of her faction.

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