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In a future Chicago, sixteen-year-old Beatrice Prior must choose. Society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). Raised as Abnegation, Beatrice has a choice, stay with her family in Abnegation or choose another faction and turn her back on them forever.
The problem is, she also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.
What purpose does each of the five factions serve in society? What personality types are drawn toward each faction? Do you think these factions represent every basic personality type and fulfill all the basic needs of people? If not, what faction(s) would you create to fill in any gaps?
What was the reason behind the creation of the factions? Do you think the factions are working “toward a better society and a better world” (p. 44) as they say they are? What about the structure seems to be working for Tris’ssociety? What doesn’t seem to be working at all?
What faction do you think you would have been born into, given your family and its values? Which faction would you select at your Choosing Ceremony? Why? How would you feel about making a decision that would determine your life’s course at the age of sixteen?
What choices have you made that have changed you? What future choices will you also make, and how do you think that they will change you?
How does the idea of “faction before blood” come into play throughout the book? Do you think this idea has a place in today’s society, or is it contrary to what most people believe? In our society, what ideas and beliefs are people loyal to in the way Tris’s society is loyal to the concept of the factions?
Why is Tris’s government run only by members of Abnegation? Do you think this is a good idea? Do you agree with her father’s statement that “valuing knowledge above all else results in a lust for power, and that leads men into dark and empty places” (p. 35)? Why or why not?
What does it mean to be factionless in Tris’s society? How does a person become factionless?
Tris says about Candor, “It must require bravery to be honest all the time” (p. 62). Do you agree? Which do you think is a braver faction, Dauntless or Candor? Would you like to live in a society like Candor, where everyone tells the truth no matter how hard it is to hear?
During initiation, is it selfish of Tris to crave victory, or is it brave? Do Tris’s friends have a right to be jealous when she’s ranked above them? If you were Tris, would you forgive them for their reactions?
How does initiation change and transform Tris? Do you think she made the right faction choice? How do you think she might have changed if she had chosen one of the other factions?
What is the difference between being fearless and learning to control your fears? Do you believe anyone can be truly fearless? What does Tris mean when she says that “half of bravery is perspective” (p. 458)?
Is Four’s desire to be “brave, and selfless, and smart, and kind, and honest” (p. 405) realistic in the society in which he lives? Think of examples of people in our own world who successfully bridge different cultures, perspectives, or ways of living.
Tris’s mom says, “Human beings as a whole cannot be good for long before the bad creeps back in and poisons us again” (p. 441). Do you agree or disagree? Why?
At the beginning of the book, Tris does not understand what it means to be Divergent. How do you think she would explain it by the end of the book?