Tris has just failed her fear landscape test. The silver lining, she realizes, is that now Peter and his followers won’t think of her as a legitimate threat.
Tris is a rationalist—she’s always thinking ahead, and collecting herself immediately after a setback. In “faction” terms, this seems like more of an Erudite quality than Dauntless or Abnegation.
Tris, furious with herself for her poor performance, jumps onboard the train, and rides it into the heart of the city. She gets off at the Erudite headquarters, thinking that she’ll visit Caleb. At the headquarters, she’s able to walk inside without a fight—much to her surprise. The interior of the Erudite headquarters is dominated by an enormous library, decorated with a portrait of Jeanine, the leader.
The contrast between Abnegation and Erudite couldn’t be clearer here. Where the Abnegation leadership remains painfully humble, Jeanine, the head of the Erudite, has her own portrait hanging in a position of power. It’s somewhat ironic that Roth portrays the “bookish” group as the villains in her society, since she’s the writer, after all.
Tris asks a librarian to help her find her brother, but the librarian refuses. As Tris becomes angry, she hears a voice—it’s Caleb, who’s surprised to see her. Caleb is wearing glasses, Tris notices, even though his vision is perfect.
It’s telling that Caleb wears glasses for no reason—he’s so eager to fit in that he alters his appearance to create the stereotypical image of bookishness and intelligence.
Tris and Caleb take a walk outside the library, through a park (which Chicago natives will recognize as Millennium Park). Tris confesses that she wants to go back to Abnegation—she’s sick of Dauntless. Tris also makes it clear that she’s annoyed with Caleb, because he hasn’t visited her. Caleb asks Tris if she made the right choice in going to Dauntless, and Tris replies, “I don’t think there was one.” Tris notices that Caleb looks tired.
Caleb seems selfish and ambitious in this section—he’s been so obsessed with fitting in among the Erudite that he seems to have abandoned his family. Yet at the same time, Tris has been doing exactly the same thing—she thinks about her family all the time, but she hasn’t visited Caleb either.
Tris asks Caleb about Jeanine, who’s been speaking about corruption in Abnegation. Caleb says he’s unsure if he believes Jeanine or not. Tris finds it surprising that Caleb is even considering Jeanine’s arguments, since his own parent is an Abnegation leader. She tries to reason with Caleb, but Caleb tells her that she’s not thinking clearly. Tris interprets this to mean that Caleb has become arrogant—he looks down on all non-Erudites. Caleb tells Tris that she should leave, and Tris gets up to go. She mentions to Caleb that Natalie wants him to research serum.
Surprisingly, Caleb is taking Jeanine’s arguments seriously, even tough they attack his own parents. This points to the fact that faction loyalty is often stronger than family loyalty: Caleb has an easier time trusting Jeanine than he does his own parents. Here Roth plays up the idea that there is an inherent arrogance in intelligence: smart people like Caleb believe that they have all the answers.
As Tris tries to leave the Erudite headquarters, two guards tell her to come with them. They take her to Jeanine’s offices. Jeanine tells Tris about her aptitude tests: there was some kind of glitch, and the results were never recorded. Jeanine points out that Tris is one of only two people in history to switch from Abnegation to Dauntless. Tris has no idea why she’s in Jeanine’s office, but she can sense that Jeanine suspects her of being dangerous.
Tris is intelligent enough to recognize that Jeanine is suspicious of her. This reminds us that the Erudite aren’t necessarily the most intelligent people in the city—they’re simply the people who believe that intelligence is the most important thing about a person.
Tris tries to play the part of a Dauntless recruit: arrogant, cocky, and bold. She tells Jeanine that she’s the best recruit the Dauntless have, and this seems to reassure Jeanine that Tris is harmless. Tris also says that she doesn’t miss her parents in the slightest—her real family is in Dauntless. Jeanine asks Tris if she agrees with the reports Jeanine has been publishing. Tris lies and says that she does.
Tris has become skilled at performing. Here, she invents a “character” on the spot: a cocky, slow-witted Dauntless soldier. Because of Jeanine’s own arrogance about the superiority of the Erudite, she’s ready to believe that Tris really is as foolish as she appears.
After meeting Jeanine, Tris is driven back to the Dauntless headquarters in a car. When she returns to Dauntless, she finds Eric waiting for her. Eric, who recognizes the car as Erudite, accuses Tris of betraying Dauntless, and takes her to Tobias. Eric says that Tris is a dangerous spy, associating with other factions—something which Tobias immediately disputes. Tris, remembering Tobias’s advice, forces herself to cry, so that she seems weak and frail. Tobias says that Tris tried to kiss him, and ran off after Tobias turned her down. Eric laughs and seems to accept this relationship.
Eric’s loyalty to the Dauntless is so great that he interprets even a visit to the Erudite as a sign of betrayal. It’s almost pathetic that Eric believes this—although he’s a powerful government official, he’s imprisoned by his own Dauntless ideology. Notably, Tris follows Tobias’s advice and pretends to cry in order to make Eric underestimate her. Tris is a powerful, tough young woman, but she understands that many (particularly men) won’t respect this, and so she is forced to trick them with a performance of weakness.
Alone, Tobias apologizes to Tris for being harsh with Tris during the simulation. He compliments Tris on pretending to be weak—he recommends that she continue to use this strategy. Tris kisses Tobias, and Tobias tells her to meet him alone at 11:30.
Tris and Tobias essentially form their own, two-person faction-within-a-faction. Their common culture is that they distrust Dauntless displays of power and force—there has to be more to life, they think.
Back in the dormitory, Christina asks Tris where she’s been all day, and if Tobias is angry that Tris hit him. Tris doesn’t tell Christina where she’s been, and Christina moves on to another topic: Will kissed her. Tris is happy for Christina, and wishes she could tell her friend about Tobias.
Throughout the book, Roth reminds us that Tris isn’t actually that special—at the same time that she’s going through self-doubt, finding a boyfriend, etc., her peers (such as Christina) are doing the same things.
Christina tells Tris more about herself. Christina spent most of her childhood believing that she’d become a Candor. The Candor initiation ritual, she remembers, involves taking truth serum and spilling every secret. The great advantage of living in Candor, she says, is that there’s no manipulation: everyone says exactly what’s on their mind. Christina could never have been in Candor, she claims, because she likes to be in control of her own mind.
The flaw in Candor culture, Roth suggests, is that total honesty leads to a total exposure of weakness to authority, and thus total power for the government. Only when people keep secrets and have a private life can there be real freedom—otherwise, the government knows everyone’s secrets, weaknesses, etc.
Late at night, Tris meets up with Tobias as planned. Tobias takes Tris to the train, and they jump onboard. Tobias and Tris kiss and touch each other, and Tobias notices Tris’s collarbone tattoo. After some time, they arrive at their destination: Erudite headquarters. Tobias points out that the Erudites are violating protocol by keeping their lights on late into the night.
The Erudites seem to be planning something dangerous, hence their violation of protocol—pushing the strict boundaries of this society. Tris continues to explore her sexuality with Tobias.
Tobias explains to Tris what they’re doing here. Tobias has found reports in the Dauntless compound that look like war plans, seemingly intended for a war against Abnegation. Tobias guesses that the Erudites’ newspaper stories have been designed to stir up hatred of Abnegation, making it easier for a full-scale rebellion. Tobias wonders aloud how the Erudite are going to manipulate the other factions into fighting against Abnegation.
The Erudite recognize the fragility of the five factions, and so use propaganda to stir up the inherent resentment between them. Because of the culture of rigid divisiveness and competition, this doesn’t seem like a difficult task. And yet it’s still a mystery how the Erudite are going to turn this resentment into actual violence.