The afternoon after Natalie’s visit, Tris finds Al sitting in the dormitory—he’s been hiding from his parents. Tris notices that Al has a horrible bruise on his knee, and realizes that Al didn’t want his parents to see his injuries. Al whispers that he’s lost every fight he’s fought so far.
Al is the opposite of Tris in many ways: where Tris tries to “put on a show” for her peers, even when she’s depressed and severely injured, Al hides from the people around him. This is a huge error in Dauntless, however, as it encourages others to think of Al as weak.
Tris asks Al why he chose to be in Dauntless, and he explains that he thinks it’s important to protect people. He says that he admires Tris for defending him, and adds that being Dauntless should be about being a protector, not a bully. As Al says this, he begins to cry.
In spite of his weakness and alienation from the group (or perhaps, because of it), Al can see very clearly the problem in the Dauntless community as it exists. Courage is about protecting people, not hurting and bullying them.
In the evening, the transfers don’t talk much about their parents’ visits—it’s just too painful. Christina mentions that her parents have a dog named Chunker, but adds that she hasn’t been able to appreciate dogs, ever since her Aptitude Test. Tris is surprised to hear Christina talking about her test, as this information is strictly hidden. Al and Christina notice that Tris is uncomfortable, and Al quickly deduces that Tris is hiding something (using his Candor training). Tris lies and says that she got Abnegation, but chose Dauntless anyway.
As Tris becomes closer with her friends, she gets closer to revealing the truth about herself—that she’s Divergent. She knows that this is supposed to be a secret, but doesn’t seem to realize the danger of revealing it (and we as readers don’t either, yet). Christina’s comment about her dog is intriguing—suggesting that being told that one belongs to a certain personality type actually affects one psychologically, so that people start to conform to the identities others give them.
In the evening, the transfer recruits meet with Four, who explains the ranking system to them. They’re about to enter stage two of training, which matters much more than stage one (the stage they’ve just completed). In the new rankings, Tris is ranked 6 of 9, Edward and Peter are 1st and 2nd, and Al and Myra are 8th and 9th.
Tris is in the middle of the rankings. She’s a weak fighter, who loses more than she wins, but she’s also sharp and quick-witted—thanks to Four’s mentorship, Tris recognizes that these qualities make her valuable.
Later that night, Tris thinks about her mother—why, she wonders, did Natalie choose Abnegation after growing up in Dauntless? Suddenly, Tris hears a cry in the dark. Someone turns on the lights, revealing that Edward has been stabbed in the eye with a butter knife from the dining hall. Tris tells Edward to lie still. She finds that she can remain calm, even when everyone else in the room is frantic. Tris urges Edward to keep the knife in his eye, as she knows it’s not safe to pull it out himself. Tris reminds herself of her own mother—kind and nurturing. Within a few minutes, a nurse comes to the room and takes Edward away. Tris notices that Drew and Peter are nowhere to be seen in the room.
It’s clear enough what’s happened: Drew and Peter have worked together to eliminate Edward, their most dangerous rival. In addition to being a troubling and disgusting episode, this passage tells us a lot about the limitations of Eric’s strategy for training the recruits. Eric wants the recruits to work against one another—he thinks that this will encourage the recruits to work harder and be more successful. But this simply doesn’t work—instead, the recruits sabotage each other, so that Edward, the most talented of the recruits, is taken out of the running.
The next day, the transfer recruits have free time. Will and Tris contemplate visiting Edward in the hospital, but decide not to, as they just don’t know what they’d tell him. Will tells Tris about the Dauntless manifesto—one of the five manifestoes the factions produced when they were first formed. In their manifesto, the Dauntless celebrated the bravery that leads people to stand up for one another. Tris thinks she understands what Will is getting at. The Dauntless have strayed from their original purposes—they’ve gone from selfless strength and courage to cruelty.
Clearly, Tris has internalized her conversation with Al: she recognizes that the Dauntless have deviated from the “proper path.” It’s significant that her epiphany comes after Will tells her about the Dauntless manifesto—a document which, we gather, very few people have bothered to read. Will’s intelligence and dedication to research are major assets—they help him situate Dauntless in a broader historical process, allowing him to see how arbitrary and thoughtless Eric’s leadership really is.
Later in the day, Tris sees that Edward’s bunk has been stripped clean, along with Myra’s. Christina explains that they’ve both quit the Dauntless training program (Myra was Edward’s girlfriend). There are now 7 transfer recruits.
Thanks to Peter’s brutality, the Dauntless have lost their most promising transfer recruit.