The Dauntless recruits begin their lessons: firing guns, boxing, etc. Four monitors the recruits’ training. He tells them that the best way to fight cowardice is with preparation. The recruits, including Tris, begin with target practice—they fire their new guns at a target. Tris is a poor shot, and a boy named Will, formerly from Erudite, makes fun of her. With practice, though, Tris finds that she can hit the target after all. She feels good about her progress: there’s pleasure in setting her mind to something and achieving it.
Here, we see the structure of Dauntless culture. Will and Tris taunt each other, but there’s a certain grudging respect in the way they treat each other—they can be friendly but also competitive. Tris also discovers a pleasure that was never available to her in Abnegation: the pleasure of succeeding at something and then being proud of oneself.
At lunch, Tris eats with Christina, Will, and Al, the boy who cried the night before. Will, a former Erudite, points out two other former Erudites he knows, Edward and Myra, who are dating. Myra kisses Edward, and Tris reflexively flinches: as an Abnegation, she’s not used to public affection. Will smirks and teases Tris playfully for her shyness. Tris laughs, too.
As an Abnegation among the Dauntless, Tris is an outsider, even compared with the other transfer recruits. Her only strategy for success is to poke fun at herself, laughing along when the others joke about her old community.
In the afternoon, the recruits go to a new room, where Four begins teaching them how to fight. Four tells Tris that she’s not strong, but that she can use her elbows and knees to do well in combat.
Four shows signs of taking a special interest in Tris—where the other trainers regard Tris as weak and girlish, Four recognizes her true potential.
In the evening, Tris eats with her new friends. Al proposes getting a new tattoo to celebrate his new home among the Dauntless, and Christina jokingly suggests dying his hair. After dinner, Christina shows Tris the “clothing place” available to the recruits. All the Dauntless are given credits every month, with which they can buy clothes and food. At the clothing place, she gives Tris eyeliner and a black dress. Tris is uncomfortable wearing these things, as she’s used to loose, modest clothes.
Tattoos will be a major motif, as whenever Tris goes through a milestone in her life, she gets a tattoo to commemorate the occasion. This is a way for Roth to literalize the change that Tris experiences during the course of the novel. One of Tris’s most important changes is her discovery of her own body and her own sexuality. In Abnegation, beauty and sexuality are hidden beneath baggy clothing—now, Tris is getting in touch with her beauty for the first time.
Tris and Christina go to “the tattoo place,” where they find Al getting a tattoo of a spider. Tris notices a tattoo of a raven, and thinks it’s pretty. She’s surprised to find Tori, her examiner, walking through the tattoo shop. Tori explains that she’s a Dauntless, and works in the tattoo shop. Tris asks Tori about her test results, but Tori quickly replies that it’d be “unwise” to think about her test too much. She suggests that Tris get a tattoo of birds on her collarbone. Tris agrees to get a tattoo of three birds—symbolizing the three family members she’s left behind.
It’s significant that Tori, the woman who helped Tris come to terms with her own identity as Divergent, also works as a tattoo artist: tattoos are an important symbol of identity and, more important, the flexibility of identity. At this point in the book, Tris is still consumed with love for her family, and guilt at having left them behind. Thus, her tattoo symbolizes the family she’s abandoned.