The next morning, Tris wakes up and proceeds outside to the train, along with her peers. Inside, Tris catches a glimpse of her own appearance in a mirror: she has a black eye and a bruised jaw. Tris can barely believe this ugly sight is her own face. Tris’s friends tease her for her appearance, and she laughs along with them.
The mirror is a recurring symbol in the novel, signaling Tris’s changing self-image. Here, Tris realizes that she’s become a different person, both because of her physical challenges and because of her bravery and toughness in the face of danger.
On the train, Tris asks her friends what the Dauntless protect the city from. Nobody has a good answer, though. Christina jokes that there are monsters beyond the city. Will recalls that there were no guards at the fence until five years ago—the Dauntless used to just police the factionless, not the city limits. Tris remembers that her father voted to keep the Dauntless away from the factionless sector, as he said the factionless didn’t need to be treated like enemies.
Tris and her peers want to be in Dauntless, but not, evidently, because they understand the urgency of Dauntless’s purpose (i.e., protecting the city from some foreign enemy). The attraction of Dauntless life, seemingly, is that bravery and strength are alluring values in and of themselves. This total ignorance of what the “enemy” is has larger implications for the “dystopian” nature of the city’s government, however, suggesting that the powerful have fabricated an outside threat in order to keep the populace afraid and in line.
The train takes the new recruits to the fence surrounding the city. There, Four greets them. He explains that mediocre Dauntless end up patrolling the fence. Will asks why the Dauntless patrol the fence, but Four doesn’t reply. Peter asks Four for his rank in the training program, and Four replies that he was first. Peter finds this surprising—someone so talented should have worked in the government, he mutters. Tris remembers the conversation she overheard between Eric and Four on her first day. She also thinks about how she’s probably ranked last among recruits.
The one thing that unites all the Dauntless recruits together is their fierce sense of competition. Tris is no less obsessed with being ranked first than Peter is: Dauntless has impressed the importance of the rankings upon all of its recruits. This makes Four seem more mature and mysterious—by rejecting the results of the rankings, he’s essentially rejected the most basic aspect of Dauntless society (or at least Dauntless society as it’s been presented to us so far).
As Four speaks to his recruits, a truck drives up, and Amity people step out. They ask for Beatrice, and Tris is a little surprised to hear her former name. One of the Amity men is Robert Black, Tris’s old friend from Abnegation—like Tris, he’s decided to leave his home. The other Dauntless recruits laugh at Robert for his kind demeanor, and tease Tris for her real name—up to this time, they didn’t know it. Robert urges Tris to consider leaving the Dauntless, as he’s sure the government would allow her to return to Abnegation. Tris stubbornly refuses, though. She admits that she’s not happy, but explains that she doesn’t want to leave. Saddened, Robert drives away.
This is an important, and somewhat unpleasant, reminder of the rivalries between the factions, and of Tris’s secret Divergence. The Dauntless look down on all other factions, particularly Amity—a community based on the importance of kindness and generosity. The truth is that neither kindness nor courage by themselves are sufficient—only the combination of both virtues can be successful. Thus, the fact that Tris can interact with both Dauntless and Amity signals her maturity; i.e., her “well-roundedness” as a human being (a quality seemingly very rare in this society).
As the truck drives away, Four approaches Tris and tells her that it was foolish to act friendly around Robert: Tris’s peers will think she’s an outsider among the Dauntless. Four also tells Tris that she could be a skilled attacker, provided that she taught herself to attack first.
Four and Tris share a keen sense for public perception, perhaps because neither really “fits in” with the other Dauntless. Four continues to see Tris’s potential, but he also wants her to be more aggressive—more Dauntless.