Divergent Brief Summary
The stories of guilt and blame have existed for as long as the history of man. Right from the Garden of Eden in the Christian creation story, to the numerous stories of wars and conflicts, man has always found himself dealing with the questions of making hard choices in life. Ideally, everyone has experienced guilt in one way or the other, and even some of the choices that people make are based on guilt. Thus, guilt has always controlled the actions of man.
The book of Divergent produced by Veronica Roth is an epitome of the feelings of guilt and blame. It is a book full of hard choices, most of which lead to guilt and blame because one choice is always set against the other. Thus, Divergent brings out a very strong theme of guilt and blame. It further looks at new methods of dealing with it. Also considered in this book is whether guilt can be punished or if it is by itself enough punishment if one just feels bad about their actions.
Essentially, the story of guilt and blame revolves around the life of a young female character, Tris. She is faced with hard choices in life, which eventually leads to guilt and shame. Her society is divided into five factions. Tradition requires that at the age of sixteen, she chooses which group to belong to. However, on the day of her initiation, a coup arises and each group is staged against the other. Yet, she must decide which faction to be part of. Apparently, she sees something good in each group, but she must choose only one. Her guilt arises from the fact that she is not sure whether her choice will help or harm others. With this first choice, she finds herself faced with overwhelming tough choices going forward. Because of inevitable circumstances, she always has to make one choice over the other. In the end, it is seen that she is tied down with these choices which lead to major guilt on her part. Reading between the lines, it is evident that her guilt arises from the fact that she is divergent. She feels she owes everyone, that each group has something good to offer, and that she has responsibility across the diverse factions. For instance, at one point, she leaves her family for another course. At another point, she lies to her friends to protect the other. She even goes ahead to kill Will. Yet, she still feels guilty after shooting him in the head. Eventually, she kills herself, even though the author portrays it as an act of martyrdom.
Caleb is another character that is full of guilt in the book. Because of the actions of Tris, he feels he should have done something to stop his sister from sacrificing herself. Despite his several attempts to plead with Tris not to hurt herself, she still went ahead to kill herself. Caleb, thus, blames himself for failing to stop his sister; and in fact, believes he has betrayed his family.
Tobias, too, is faced with major guilt in the story. He blames himself for the death of Tris, his elder sister. Because of him, Tris hated Marcus for hurting him. When Tris finally sacrifices her own life for his happiness, Tobias is filled with guilt because if it wasn’t for him perhaps his sister would have not taken that hard choice.
A few lessons of guilt and blame can be drawn from the book of Divergent. For one, the book shows that the feeling of guilt is good enough by itself to punish people for their actions. Even if they are not detained or given hard punishment, guilt alone will still hold them accountable if they break the law. Thus, this book clearly portrays guilt as a practical way of controlling people; of holding them responsible for their actions. Secondly, guilt is also seen as a way of having power over other people. Most characters in the book manipulate others by making them feel guilty about their actions. With this, they eventually have power over them.
References: Roth, V. (2011). Divergent. HarperCollins Children’s Books.