TRIQUEL!! That’s right, I liked Insurgent so much that I had to read the last instalment of the Divergent trilogy by Ms. Roth – Allegiant. Interesting piece of trivia: Divergent was Roth’s debut novel and (as of April 2014) she is only 25 years old! Talk about over achiever! In Allegiant, there are a lot of twists and turns and a quite satisfying ending. To all those who have decided to read the series, I’m certain that you will not be disappointed. Veronica Roth, thank you for writing such an interesting piece that became more than what I expected it to be. From a book that seemed to be trying to keep up with the Hunger Games train, you transformed it into its own commentary about human nature and survival of the fittest. So everyone, here are my thoughts on Veronica Roth’s Allegiant. [sidebar: As usual, spoiler warning for those who have not read anything in the series!]
Insurgent leaves us the with televised video of Edith Prior, an assumed ancestor of Tris and Caleb, revealing the origin of the city and hints to what is beyond the fence. It isn’t the most pleasant sight – images and tales of how humans on the outside of the fence have created war and murder and the purpose of the city and the factions is to correct these behaviours. But of course this video is not enough for our heroine and her friends. They need to see it themselves.
Fast forward to a quarter of the way into the book to Tris and friends standing in a government compound on the other side of the fence, surrounded by monitors and scientists all observing the people in the city. This is where they meet those who are genetically pure – known as Divergent. Chicago and the factions are an experiment. An experiment to correct impurities in human behaviour such as selfishness, dishonesty, low intelligence, violent outbursts, and cowardice. These negative traits are deemed destructive and labelled as the reason for people starting wars. Hence the creation of the factions – groups who value selflessness, honesty, high intelligence, kindness, and bravery. They will help to correct the imperfections and carry on these genes onto the next generation, in hopes of creating a stronger one that will value all of these – to create Divergent [disclaimer: admittedly this is a very watered down version to what the circumstances and the purpose of those beyond the fence].
Those who are deemed as Divergent are labelled as genetically pure, but what of those who still only fit into one faction? “So you’re saying that because my ancestors were altered to be smart, I, their descendant, can’t be fully compassionate?” By focusing on only certain morals on a population, they still lose out on other positive traits. Because Caleb is Erudite by faction and by blood, his higher sense of logic clouds his sense of compassion towards others. He allows Jeanine Michaels prod, poke and torture his own sister for the sake of science and understanding how to ‘keep the city safe’. He makes detrimental mistakes because he outweighs one morality over another. He is damaged, just like the rest of the factions. Erudite cannot be compassionate. Amity cannot cultivate individualism or passion. Candor have no sympathy. Dauntless lose the ability of being humble. Abenegation lose their sense of self-preservation. Each faction gains a very admire trait, but they lose something that is equally as important.
All of those who are not Divergent are marked as genetically damaged, or GD. The people of the compound value the need to create ‘pure’ humans and see the damaged as a stepping stone. The GDs are seen as disposable components to the creation of the pure and a lower form of humanity. The want, the ‘need’, the strive for perfection in the human race outweighs the value of a ‘damaged’ human life. Once their purpose (of human reproduction) is fulfilled, the compound can careless about what you do with yourself. You have created offspring and they hope that your “good” genes have been passed down to create a Divergent child. You have served your purpose.
The people of the compound fail to realize that despite being Divergent, or ‘pure’, they too fall victim to their own beliefs. They become so focused on creating pure and perfect human beings that they fail to see those who are damaged are human as well. They are so concentrated on their experiment and their goal that they no longer feel compassionate towards the people they kill, the people they treat as inferior beings, the people who are in damaged homes right outside of the compound who are starving because they are missing something in their genetics. They become so inthralled by the creation of perfectly pure genetics for a utopian world that they forget the people who are currently living in their world. They become just like the Erudite. This superiority complex is what very thing that led to events like the Holocaust. The Jews, homosexuals, gypsies, the Polish, everyone who was not Aryan nor loyal to the Aryan race were to be places behind fences, do the bidding of the Nazis and, once they have exhausted their usefulness, they were to be disposed of. Because they cannot live the same way as the ‘pure’, does that mean they are not human? Does being pure mean to be human? No.
They fail to see the truth about human nature. They “want to blame genetic damage for everything […] It’s easier for them to accept than the truth, which is that they can’t know everything about people and why they act the way they do.” The compound wants to solve the problem of war and murder and look at the people who start these crimes. They fail to see that even ‘pure’ humans can cause war because there is no such thing as pure. They live in the denial of every human being capable of harm. They want to create perfect beings who will live in an eternal utopia. Blinded by this need, the compound devalues the lives of those in the city within the factions. They use their end to justify their means. For the sake of their goal, they become the silent enemies to the factions and to the damaged.
Roth makes very powerful comments about human nature. Within the city and the factions, it is not enough to just be aligned with one faction through and through. There is merit in each factions value, but when they fall too far into it, they miss on other significant components to human nature. They lose their sense of consideration for the other and become selfish untactful beings who throw away human life. People need to be able to see the value in all factions and not fall too far at the risk of losing part of their humanity. Outside the city, it is equally, if not more, damaging to oneself to strive for human perfection. This goal will only get further and further away because it is a goal that is unachievable. Human purity and perfection does not exist in this world, or in their world. Anne Lamott, another novelist, has a beautiful quote in regards to this behaviour: “Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life.” Humans will be humans. We cannot, and should not, attempt to ‘fix’ genetic make up in hopes to create a perfect person in a perfect world. We can only be regular humans who strive to create an easier world. We can only hope to work together adapt and live on this planet with what we have, taking on every challenge as they come. Working together with what we have… Now that sounds like a pretty great world.