Hardly Dauntless

Everyone who has read Divergent has loved it, and for good reason. (If you are one of the nonexistent who disagree, just keep quiet.) Usually when I finish the first book in a good series, I can't wait for the second. Divergent is the kind of good that makes you get to the end and want to read it again.

Most people in the Veronica Roth fandom are asking each other which faction they'd be in - or if they, too, are Divergent. This is an obvious question to arise from the book, as it explores a society split into four factions with essentially unique characteristics. But an equally obvious question would be about our fears.

In the novel, Tris joins a faction bent on overcoming their fears to become - as their faction's name claims - dauntless. At one point, Tris undergoes a test in which she has to face each one of her fears in order to overcome them. In comparison with her other Dauntless friend, she has surprisingly few fears to combat - though that doesn't make the ordeal any less harrowing. One character in particular is known for carrying the record for fewest fears in the entire faction. He is named for his record, and we trembling readers are unquestionably in awe of him. His name is Four.

I was thinking about Four this morning while I sat listening to a sermon about the Israelites and the Egyptians - that ancient narrative of the supreme God proving his faithfulness to a people so fearful he had to take them the long way through the desert just so they wouldn't see the warmongering Philistines and run back to their Egyptian slavery. I was thinking about Four and how he could name his fears on one hand. I was thinking about Tris and the test she took, and what it would be like to distill your fears into individual experiences, to face them head on, to know their names.

I doubt anyone's going to let a "name your fears" test go viral on Facebook in honor of Divergent. It's just as relevant a question as "what faction are you in," but a lot more personal. It's also harder to answer. It would take a great deal of self-awareness to be able to count your own fears, let alone the bravery it would require to face them all.

It's a testament to how good the book is that I'm still thinking about these things months after having read it. If you haven't yet, feel free to borrow my copy. Though be sure to return it. I'll be rereading it before long.


  1. Still saving the end...I can't bring myself to read it. I will be so sad when it's over. It's just sitting by my bed taunting me with its genius.

  2. I so couldn't do that. Especially if it was sitting by the bed. Forget sleep.


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