In which it seems there is interesting stuff, but actually there isn’t
This chapter starts after everyone jumped. So, the initiates are lead through a stone partially lit tunnel. At some point, they divide because the Dauntless initiates already know the place. One thing I don’t get: wouldn’t the Dauntless initiates have been more ready for the jump than the other initiates? They have jumped like crazy for 16 years, so why is this jump different? Meh, this book…
Four is in charge of showing the transfers around. We find out he usually works in the control room (I assume this is an important detail) and that he’ll be in charge for their training for the next few weeks. Really, they need just a few weeks of training to become soldiers? The United States Army Basic Training program takes at least 16 weeks from what I could research. But I guess Dauntless pretend to be soldiers, like Abnegation just pretend to be good governors.
Anyway, Christina is asking questions which makes Four stare at her and tell her to keep her mouth shut (first lesson). Because asking questions is so annoying and probably not “brave” at all. Dauntless don’t ask questions, they just act.
It would probably be wise to be careful around Four, I realize. He seemed placid to me on the platform, but something about that stillness makes me wary now.
Honestly, I reread the ending of the last chapter, and I can’t say he’s placid. He’s actually very normal. Characterization by telling is the worst when it doesn’t even match the showing parts.
They get to the Pit which is a huge underground cavern with built-in shops, all connected by narrow paths with no railings. Because dying is a fun activity for the Dauntless. Anyway, that would have been a good place for us to find more about the economy of this world, or at least how this Pit was built or was it always there. Don’t panic, reader, there is nothing like this in here!
The Pit’s roof is made of glass, and above it is another building that lets in sunlight. How? I assume that this building also has a glass roof, because otherwise it looks like any other building. This book sucks at descriptions. Honestly, I’m having trouble seeing the stuff described here. Anyway, there are lots of people in the Pit, all very social, but no elders. B wonders if they are sent away when they aren’t able to jump anymore? It depends on what elder means. Someone in top physical shape could still easily jump at 60. My guess is they die young out of stupidity, by doing something they believe it’s brave.
Four leads them to the chasm, which is a river protected by a railing.
“The chasm reminds us that there is a fine line between bravery and idiocy!” Four shouts. “A daredevil jump off this ledge will end you life. It has happened before and it will happen again. You’ve been warned.”
Um, Dauntless can’t swim? I mean underground rivers are slower than ground ones and they usually empty in a lake or ocean. If they can survive jumping seven stories on concrete, I doubt they won’t survive jumping into a river and getting dragged by the current outside. Also, the fact that there is an underground river suggest this is a natural underground cave system, but from what I know there is no such thing in Chicago.
Four leads them to the dining room where they are greeted with applause by the rest of the Dauntless. Here we find out Beatrice never had a hamburger in her life because “extravagance is considered self-indulgent and unnecessary.” Since when is a hamburger extravagant food? I think almost every fast-food sells a type of hamburger. Maybe a gourmet hamburger, like this, is extravagant, but a simple bun, meat, ketchup hamburger is the easiest thing to make.
A young man walks in, and it is quite enough that I can hear his footsteps. His face is pierced in so many places I lose count, and his hair is long, dark, and greasy. But that isn’t what makes him look menacing. It is the coldness of his eyes as they sweep across the room.
This is Eric, a Dauntless leader and the bad guy. This description makes it sound he looks like Snape with piercings. He comes to their table because he probably has some issues with Four. He makes fun of Tris, because apparently everyone makes fun of Stiffs. Eric came to ask Four why isn’t he meeting with Max, and Four answers that he doesn’t want a new job, which makes B assume that Eric may be threatened by Four. Without knowing how Dauntless work as an organization, this part makes me yawn.
My father says that those who want power and get it live in terror of losing it. That’s why we have to give power to those who do not want it.
Except that those who do not want power, don’t know what do with it. And they are lousy leaders. And not all of those who become powerful, fear losing it. Think Stalin.
Anyway, Tris starts asking questions, which we already know they are annoying. The two of them start a staring contest, because Tris has to prove she’s not weak. In the end, he just says “Careful, Tris.”
Dinner is over, and Eric leads the transfers to their dormitory. We find out he’s one of the 5 leaders of the Dauntless and that he volunteered to oversee their training. There’s probably not much to do as a leader anyway. He explains that they have to train almost 10 hours a day, with a lunch break and they can do whatever they want after training. Except leaving the compound without a Dauntless.
We also learn that the initiates are ranked and only 10 of them will become members and the rest become factionless. I thought that they had a lot of threats from within and outside, so it’s quite unbelievable they would cut people that they need probably. Also, there are only 20 initiates in total? I expected a lot more. Let me do some math. If there are 20 initiates here, we can assume that there are 20 initiates for every faction. So, just 100 teens who are 16 which would mean 400 people in the age bracket of 15-19. This age bracket would probably represent about 5% of the general population, which would translate into a total population of 8000! Which proves once again the world building sucks. 8000 people wouldn’t need such an idiotic system and they would have probably left the city a long time ago. And what’s outside Chicago anyway? All humanity is dead? But that can’t be if they have far away farms. Also, someone would have killed those wackos a long time ago and conquered the city.
“Are you saying that if you had known this before the Choosing Ceremony, you wouldn’t have chosen Dauntless?” Eric snaps. “Because if that’s the case, you should get out now. If you really are one of us, it won’t matter to you that you might fail. And if it does, you are a coward.”
Again, it’s not actually choosing if you have no idea what are you choosing. I read somewhere that this book is so amazing because it promotes the idea of choice and I was baffled and I do wonder if most people understand the concept of choice. And the last part is stupid. If someone worries that he might fail (and has 1 out of 2 chances to fail), that’s not cowardice. People should worry, otherwise they tend to make stupid decisions.
I sleep in my Abnegation clothes, which still smell like soap and fresh air, like home.
I doubt that after all the running and jumping you made. They would have smelled better if you did normal stuff.
It will be all right here. I can look at my reflection whenever I want.
That’s like such a narcissistic thing to say! “Now I’m happy I can stare myself in the mirror.” This character is getting more unlikable as the chapters pass. At least, she kind of cries thinking about home and her family.
A strangled sound interrupts the breathing, followed by a heavy sob. […] They come from the bunk next to mine – they belong to a Candor boy, Al, the largest and broadest of all initiates. He is the last person I expected to break down.
Why? Because big boys don’t cry? The whole situation is so stupid, and the “training” would be probably super idiotic, so why aren’t all of them crying?
I should comfort him – I should want to comfort him, because I was raised that way. Instead I feel disgust. Someone who looks so strong shouldn’t act so weak. Why can’t he just keep his crying quiet like the rest of us?
If you were actually raised that way, you would have comforted him, B. Also, you probably don’t have an ounce of empathy in your body. I would add that hiding the fact you are suffering and crying is not an act of bravery really and it can be quite damaging on the long run leading to terrible depressions.
This chapter ends with Beatrice not comforting Al, and putting a pillow on her head to muffle the sounds of his crying. Like I said in the beginning, there seems to be stuff happening in this chapter, but the plot isn’t really moving forward.