Divergent | Study Guide

Veronica Roth

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Course Hero. "Divergent Study Guide." Course Hero. 17 May 2019. Web. 30 July 2021. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Divergent/>.

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Course Hero. (2019, May 17). Divergent Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved July 30, 2021, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Divergent/

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(Course Hero, 2019)



Course Hero. "Divergent Study Guide." May 17, 2019. Accessed July 30, 2021. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Divergent/.


Course Hero, "Divergent Study Guide," May 17, 2019, accessed July 30, 2021, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Divergent/.

Divergent | Symbols



Many of the Dauntless members have tattoos, including Tris and her friends. On a superficial level, the tattoos are a symbol of the Dauntless faction itself, as none of the other factions engage in tattooing. For many of the Dauntless, however, the tattoo is a symbol of bravery because getting a tattoo is a painful process. They wear their imperviousness to pain proudly in the form of tattoos. The tattoo also gives Dauntless members an outlet for individuality, which is otherwise mostly discouraged. However, a Dauntless member can display whatever parts of themselves they choose in the form of their tattoos.

For Tris and Four, their specific tattoos symbolize their values or things that they hold dear. Tris's first tattoo, of three flying birds, represents the three family members she left when she changed factions. This tattoo is a way for Tris to make a statement about her family's importance to her, even though she is supposed to value "faction before blood." The tattoo provides a safe way for Tris to keep her family close to her heart, without raising suspicion that she is staying too attached to them. Both Tobias and Tris get the Abnegation symbol tattooed on their backs, as a reminder of where they came from and the Abnegation values they still believe in. Tobias has tattoos of each of the faction symbols on his back, representing his belief that it is important to embody the values of each of the factions: honesty, selflessness, courage, kindness, and intelligence.


The serum is a symbol of how many factions control their members. It also represents the restriction of individual thought. The serum is developed by the Erudite faction for use in training or testing, but it is designed to control a person's mind. The ability to resist the directives of a serum is one of the primary qualities of the Divergent. This resistance is a representation of the strength of an individual's mind and their individuality. The concepts of control and the repression of individuality are critical elements of a dystopia.

There are four primary serums used over the course of the novel. The aptitude test serum forces a series of choices that allow the factions to categorize a test-taker. In this way, society keeps people repressed by forcing them while still young to choose membership in a particular group based on their responses to the test serum. A similar serum is used during the Dauntless initiation to force initiates to experience their worst fears. This serum is more complex because it uses the initiate's own brain to generate fears as opposed to creating a set series of situations like the aptitude-test serum. It is meant to teach initiates how to control themselves in the midst of their fear. Erudite takes this type of serum a step further and creates a serum for the Dauntless that will force them through a simulation when activated. This allows for widespread mind control and gives the Erudite the ability to control the actions of hundreds of armed people. Finally, Jeanine Matthews develops a special serum for Divergents, which is supposed to alter their perception of the world around them. This is her attempt to control even the uncontrollable members of society, thus giving her complete domination.

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