Divergent has had me won over from the moment I picked up the first book in the series. The questions it raises fascinate me, and I won’t lie, the presence of tattoos all over the place in Dauntless helps hold my attention when it comes to the movies. The first movie in the series introduced us to the characters. We got to meet Tris and Four, and Jeanine. We got to meet the Dauntless leaders, Max and Eric.
Insurgent lets us get to know the characters better, and then kills a few of them. All the while, I found myself asking the same questions that the characters did. There were two main questions happening throughout the movie.
There was Tris’ question. She was wrestling with who she is, and if she can live with who and what she is. The amount of collateral damage that has happened when she’s been fighting weighs heavily on her and she blames herself, even calling herself ‘deadly’ under Candor’s truth serum. She thinks at first that she cannot possibly be a good person, because of all that has occurred around her. Joanna, the Amity leader, tells her that she must learn to forgive herself, and Tris seems to ignore these words until the moment when there is a lot more at stake. She forgives herself, and it’s then that she learns that Divergents aren’t the problem of this society – they’re the solution the outside world are seeking to their problems. Tris forgives herself. But through all these questions, we see that she has all the grace of a bull in a china shop when it comes to achieving her own purposes and will do whatever it takes for her goal to eventuate – even side with people she has been warned against. The character arc for Tris isn’t over yet, and she has more learning to do about who she is, but Insurgent is spent asking a question of worth. Is she worthy of all that she has been given? Is she worthy, in spite of what has been taken away? We’re presented with a bold yes.
The other question being asked isn’t one of identity, but of ethics. Caleb stands as the character who will fight for the “greater good”, Peter stands as the one who will fight for his own good, and Four is uncomfortable working together with people whose character he doubts. Even Jeanine seems to think she’s doing what’s best for everyone, until the climax of the movie. Evelyn, Four’s mother, claims to be working for the greater good, but we’re left with a foreboding sense about her. Insurgent doesn’t give us an answer to which approach is best, but we do know that those who claimed that might was right largely lay dead (damn, Eric…) and those who masqueraded their fight for power as a fight for the greater good, Jeanine and now Evelyn, are cast as villains, even though they themselves do not see it that way.
The questions asked are more important than the answers in this case, because true to the form of trilogies, we still don’t have answers. We’re leftthinking that Tris finally feels worth, and that the faction system was all a lie that people needed to be freed from.
Alleigant will seek to give us answers, but in the meantime, I’m glad to have been faced with questions like this. I’m glad that so many teenage girls will be engaging with Insurgent and working out these things about themselves.
If you’re wondering if I’d recommend Insurgent to you, the answer is yes. But if you’re a parent and have a child who wants to see it, I’d say you should see it with them. There’s some confronting moments, but more importantly, you get to ask the questions of the characters alongside your child.
(But did you really have to make Jai Courtney’s character end like that? I mean, seriously… Guys. Not okay.)