Dystopian Novels: Divergent by Veronica Roth

 

Entry 1: Describe a novel, TV show, video game, or movie that fits into the categories Post Apocalyptic and/or Dystopian

There are a lot of contemporary novels out there that fit into the dystopian genre, however my favorite would be Divergent by Veronica Roth. Divergent explores a society based upon categorizing people into different factions by their aptitudes for certain personalities. It takes place in a future realm of Chicago. The five factions of the society are Abnegation, the selfless people, Candor, the people that never lie, Amity, the ones who are always kind, Erudite, the people who crave knowledge, and the Dauntless, the brave ones. The books explores ideas of what it would be like to have a society that is built off of dividing up people by their personalities and how that would fail, since people are not just one type of personality but made up of different things.
At the age of sixteen, kids are administered an aptitude test, where they are placed in different virtual scenarios and make decisions on what to do. The test determines which faction they are most suited for. The main character, Tris, is Divergent, meaning her results for the aptitude test is not just one faction. She is immediately labeled as an outsider, she thinks differently. She isn’t just brave, but selfless, and smart, something that she has to conceal to avoid execution. When Tris switches from Abnegation to Dauntless at the age of sixteen she faces initiation into the Dauntless faction, where she has to prove that she is only ever Brave, nothing more. Her instructor for initiation is another Divergent, Four. Roth uses Four’s character to illustrate why people cannot be categorized. Four tells Trist about the tattoos that run his back, each or a symbol of the five factions. He tells her that he doesn’t and can’t just be brave, that people are made of a little bit of everything. This future Chicago society works to categorize people in an effort to create order, however Roth uses her Divergent characters of Tris and Four to show that this simplification cannot apply to humans because they are so complex.

Another aspect of dystopia that Roth uses is the implementing of “Fear Landscapes”, Roth was a psychology major and today to help people get over fears, patients go through virtual simulations to overcome their fears. When Tris switches her faction from Abnegation to Dauntless, she has to go through a series of trials to prove that she is Dauntless. The last task in her initiation is facing the “Fear Landscape”, where she faces her fears. The number of fears she has and how she overcomes them is what determines her stay in the Dauntless Faction. Roth uses the technology that is being built today and implements it into her story to create the dystopian setting where technology can determine categorize people.
Divergent is the perfect example of a dystopian book, where today we try to categorize people through technology, label them, and try to simplify them in order to have some sort of order. This can be seen with how people try and identify themselves with certain groups, be it through personality, looks, beliefs, and other ideas. Roth just shows one aspect of how categorization can be detrimental society, even though it appears helpful. Her use of “Fear landscapes” also shows how technology works in categories, numbers, and theories, which cannot fully understand the complexities of people.

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