The most conspicuous symbol in Divergent is also one of the most complex. Beatrice Prior is Divergent, meaning that she doesn't have a strong allegiance to any one of the five factions: on the contrary, she has qualities that align her with more than one of the factions. Divergence also suggests a unique kind of mental state that isn’t fully explained in the novel, as Divergents like Tris and Tobias have the ability to resist mind control and hallucinations that affect those more clearly “factioned.” At first, Beatrice believes that she’s alone in being Divergent: she’s the only one in her city who can’t decide what kind of person to be. But as the book moves on, it becomes increasingly clear that Beatrice isn’t unique at all. She’s surrounded by people who have secret identities or hidden loyalties: even her own mother, Natalie Prior, is Divergent. In this sense, Divergence symbolizes human beings’ inability to be grouped into stable categories and fixed identities. Nobody is brave, kind, or honest 100 percent of the time—and the society that tries to pretend otherwise is doomed to break down.
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The timeline below shows where the symbol Divergence appears in Divergent. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
...she’s evenly split between Abnegation, Dauntless, and Erudite. In short, Beatrice embodies a state called “Divergent.” Tori tells Beatrice not to share this information with anyone—ever. She adds that being Divergent... (full context)
...about her decision to leave Abnegation. Tris wishes she could tell her parents about being Divergent, so perhaps they’d understand. Tris makes sure to leave her hospital bed before night falls—she... (full context)
...a woman she doesn’t know. The woman reminds Eric that his priority is rooting out “Divergent rebels.” Eric promises to find the rebels, acknowledging that it was the mysterious woman who... (full context)
...chose to leave Abnegation for Dauntless. This surprises Tris—she’d expected him to reveal that he’s Divergent, like her. Tris tells Tobias that she left Abnegation because she wasn’t selfless enough. Tobias... (full context)
...see Jeanine. Jeanine tells them that she’s always suspected that Tris and Tobias could be Divergent. Jeanine suspects that Tobias is more strongly allied with Abnegation, even though he’s chosen Dauntless.... (full context)