Tris has nightmares about Christina hanging over the railing. The next morning, she finds that Peter has spray-painted “Stiff”—a mean nickname for someone from Abnegation—on her mattress. Tris tries to reason with Peter, but Peter only says, “You and I will never be in the same faction.” Afterwards, Al helps Tris change her sheets. Tris wonders if Al is a little too kind to be a Dauntless member—but then she remembers that he knocked out Will.
This section reinforces an idea that Roth has already implied—there’s no such thing as a “true” Dauntless member. There’s so much variety and complexity in the structure of Dauntless society (and the idea of “dauntlessness” itself) that two Dauntless recruits, here Peter and Tris, can feel like rivals rather than comrades.
That day, Tris is assigned a fight against Peter, despite the fact that Peter is much bigger than she. Tris considers conceding early, but she decides that she can’t possibly be ranked last in the standings. The fight proceeds, and Peter gives Tris punishing blows to the nose and chest. Tris falls to the ground, dizzy. She manages to hit Peter a few times when he’s bent over her, but within a few minutes she’s lost consciousness.
Even though Tris loses her fight with Peter, she shows courage and “drive” by refusing to concede to him, even at the point when he’s beaten her to the ground. This suggests that Tris is a good Dauntless recruit, in spite of her physical limitations.
Tris wakes up in a bed, surrounded by her friends—slowly, she realizes that she’s been sent to the hospital. Al asks her if she’s okay, and together they manage to joke about the fight. Tris’s friends leave her to rest, but before they go, they remind her that there’s a field trip tomorrow: the recruits are going to learn about Dauntless jobs. Al smiles and tells Tris that she looks brave. Tris thinks that Al has beautiful brown eyes and a strong jawline.
Tris realizes that—almost by accident—she’s gained some friends for herself. In the same way that Christina’s peers supported her when she had to dangle over the chasm, Tris’s friends sympathize with her pain and suffering. At the same time, Tris begins to feel stronger romantic feelings for Al. Because these feelings are new to Tris (she apparently had no sexual thoughts while at Abnegation), she doesn’t know what to do with them.
Tris remembers that in less than a week, she’s due to visit with her family. Tris suspects that her parents won’t want to see her: they’re probably still too upset 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 doesn’t want to give Peter the satisfaction of sending her to the hospital for a night.
As Tris spends more time in Dauntless, she develops a sense for how to be tough, and—even more important—how to seem tough. In this scene, she correctly decides that she’ll seem weak and childish if she spends the whole night in the hospital. Because one’s image is so important in Dauntless, Tris returns to her bed.