Divergent

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Tattoos Symbol Icon

After each milestone in her life, Beatrice Prior gets a tattoo. Each tattoo has a different, specific symbolic meaning—for example, she gets a tattoo of the Dauntless symbol (a ring of fire) to celebrate the fact that she’s finally feeling at home among the Dauntless. In general, though, Beatrice’s tattoos symbolize her desire to form an identity for herself: tattoos remind her who she is, and inspire her to be strong and true to her principles. Thus, her first tattoo represents her family, symbolizing her continued allegiance to her old life in Abnegation; her second tattoo is Dauntless, symbolizing her love for her new community, etc.

Tattoos Quotes in Divergent

The Divergent quotes below all refer to the symbol of Tattoos. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Identity, Choice, and Divergence Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Katherine Tegen Books edition of Divergent published in 2011.
Chapter 8 Quotes

But I understand now what Tori said about her tattoo representing a fear she overcame—a reminder of where she was, as well as a reminder of where she is now. Maybe there is a way to honor my old life as I embrace my new one. “Yes,” I say. “Three of these flying birds.” I touch my collarbone, marking the path of their flight—toward my heart. One for each member of the family I left behind.

Related Characters: Beatrice Prior / Tris (speaker), Tori
Related Symbols: Tattoos
Page Number: 90
Explanation and Analysis:

Beatrice takes an important step toward refashioning her identity: she gets a tattoo. Beatrice is beginning to fit in well with her new Dauntless friends, as she finds that she's a good fighter and a clever strategist who can use her intelligence and determination to win most fights. And yet Beatrice continues to miss her family: her father, mother, and brother. In order to remember her three family members, Beatrice gets a tattoo of three birds.

Beatrice's tattoo--i.e., the very fact that she's getting a tattoo at all--suggests that she's beginning to settle into one identity: she's secure enough in her personality that she's willing to mark it out in ink. And yet Beatrice's choice of a tattoo suggests that she's still deeply conflicted about her identity: she's living in Dauntless, but she chooses to commemorate her Abnegation roots. She's conflicted--split between two Factions (a huge no-no in the city). In short, Beatrice is feeling more Divergent than ever.

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Chapter 28 Quotes

We stop on the concrete around the metal bean, where the Erudite sit in small groups with newspapers or books. He takes off his glasses and shoves them in his pocket, then runs a hand through his hair, his eyes skipping over mine nervously. Like he’s ashamed. Maybe I should be too. I’m tattooed, loose-haired, and wearing tight clothes. But I’m just not.

Related Characters: Beatrice Prior / Tris (speaker), Caleb Prior
Related Symbols: Tattoos
Page Number: 351
Explanation and Analysis:

Tris goes to visit her brother, Caleb. At the Erudite compound, Tris notices that Caleb is wearing glasses (presumably, a symbol of the Erudite people--the old cliche that smart people wear glasses). Caleb seems to be wearing glasses for no reason--he's so desperate to fit in with his new peers that he's willing to pretend that he has bad eyesight. The fact that Caleb seems ashamed of how he's changed further suggests that his commitment to Erudite is still fresh: he's insecure, and the sight of his sister is enough to make him feel guilty.

It's important to note that while Caleb seems uncomfortable with his new Erudite identity, Tris is perfectly secure in her Dauntless identity. Paradoxically, even though Tris is Divergent, she's "settled" into the role of a Dauntless warrior. Tris is a reluctant member of Dauntless, yet she's learned how to put on an appearance of total confidence.

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Tattoos Symbol Timeline in Divergent

The timeline below shows where the symbol Tattoos appears in Divergent. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 8
Identity, Choice, and Divergence Theme Icon
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
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.... (full context)
Identity, Choice, and Divergence Theme Icon
Competition, Groups, and Rivalries Theme Icon
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
Tris and Christina go to “the tattoo place,” where they find Al getting a tattoo of a spider. Tris notices a tattoo... (full context)
Chapter 19
Identity, Choice, and Divergence Theme Icon
Competition, Groups, and Rivalries Theme Icon
Fear, Bravery, and Maturity Theme Icon
Christina and Tris go to get tattoos, and Christina convinces Tris to get a tattoo of a flaming circle—the Dauntless seal—to go... (full context)
Chapter 20
Identity, Choice, and Divergence Theme Icon
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
After her simulation, Tris goes to visit Tori, who works in the tattoo parlor. She asks Tori for some information about being Divergent. Though she doesn’t say the... (full context)
Chapter 25
Identity, Choice, and Divergence Theme Icon
Strength, Selfishness, and Selflessness Theme Icon
Competition, Groups, and Rivalries Theme Icon
Fear, Bravery, and Maturity Theme Icon
Late at night, Will, Christina, and Tris look out over the chasm. They’ve gotten new tattoos to commemorate Al’s death. Tris got a symbol of Abnegation: a pair of hands. Tris... (full context)
Chapter 28
Strength, Selfishness, and Selflessness Theme Icon
Competition, Groups, and Rivalries Theme Icon
Fear, Bravery, and Maturity Theme Icon
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 31
Identity, Choice, and Divergence Theme Icon
Strength, Selfishness, and Selflessness Theme Icon
Competition, Groups, and Rivalries Theme Icon
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
...for sex, but Tobias vigorously denies this. Tobias also notices that Tris has a new tattoo—the Abnegation sign, on her back. Tobias smiles and says that he has the same tattoo.... (full context)