It’s been two days since Tris’s fight with Peter, and Tris is sent into another fight—with Myra. Luckily, Tris does well against Myra.
Tris begins to improve in the rankings, thanks to Four’s encouragement and her own hard work.
Late at night, Eric and other Dauntless people walk into the dormitories with flashlights and order everyone to run outside—there’s to be another field trip. Everyone rushes to the train tracks, where they find a box of guns and paintballs. Four announces that the Dauntless will be playing a city-wide game of capture the flag. Eric and Four act as team captains, and they begin to dividing up the new transfers. To Tris’s surprise, Four chooses Tris first, much to Eric’s amusement. Afterwards, Four and Tris divide up the rest of the new recruits (including the Dauntless-born initiates).
The fact that Eric and Four head different teams symbolizes their rivalry: Eric and Four represent two different approaches to training recruits (Eric is cruel, Four is tough but supportive). Again, Four shows his support for Tris by choosing her first for his team. There’s something both kindly and semi-romantic about Four’s interest in Tris. Team-building events of this kind are very important in building group loyalty: Eric and Four hope to unite their recruits together using entertainment and competition.
Tris and her peers prepare to jump onto the moving train and travel out to begin their game. Someone pushes Tris as she prepares jump, but to her pleasure, she lands on the train without any trouble. As they ride out, Four instructs his team to be clever—they’re not Erudite, but they have to be cunning to win. Tris notices Four’s calmness and his powerful arm muscles. It also occurs to her that height and elevation will be an important part of this game: if she and her peers can climb into a high enough building, they’ll be able to see their opponents coming.
Four, like Tris, is something of an outsider among the Dauntless. Although he’s ranked first, he doesn’t choose the proper government job, and furthermore, Four encourages his recruits to be intelligent and moderate as well as brave. Perhaps it’s because Tris recognizes a fellow outsider in Four that she begins to feel attracted to him.
The train stops, and the recruits are now in an unfamiliar part of the city. Immediately, Tris runs off on her own to find a high building she can use. The other recruits see what Tris is doing, and join her. Tris comes upon a huge Ferris wheel (which Chicago readers might recognize as the Chicago Ferris wheel). Tris climbs up the wheel, followed by Four, who seems to be afraid of heights. Four asks Tris, “What do you think the purpose of this exercise is?” Tris guesses that it’s teamwork, and Four laughs. He explains that teamwork used to be a Dauntless priority, but it’s not anymore. Tris and Four talk about the relationship between strategy and bravery, and Four notices that Tris doesn’t seem very frightened by the prospect of climbing the wheel.
This capture the flag game is a good representation of the theme of competition in the novel. As Four points out, capture the flag can be used to build loyalty and group solidarity. And yet the game is also a competition, meaning that the two halves of the new batch of recruits are pitted against one another. In short, capture the flag can be a tool for molding the recruits in Four’s image, or in Eric’s. Four wants the recruits to support one another, while Eric wants them to compete with and sabotage one another.
At the top of the wheel, Four and Tris notices a tiny light in the distance—it must be the other team, approaching. Suddenly, there’s a creaking sound: the wheel has begun to turn. Tris and Four manage to hold onto a nearby bar, and they hurtle toward the ground, dismounting without hurting themselves as they near the concrete. Four pulls Tris to her feet, and Tris feels the warmth of his skin for a brief moment.
This is an important section because it shows Tris and Four beginning to become friends, outside of their traditional student-teacher relationship. It’s also an early sign that Tris is a skilled Dauntless warrior—she may not be strong, but she’s smart and brave.
Tris and Four join their teammates and tell them they’ve found the other team’s location. They run out toward a pier to surprise their opponents. There, Four’s team finds a group of opponents guarding a flag. Christina and the others shoot paintballs at their opponents, and when they’ve shot them, Christina claims the flag, reasoning that Tris has already gotten enough glory that night. Four’s team has won. Four personally congratulates Tris.
The success of Four’s team helps to prove that Four’s strategy for training his recruits is the right one: it’s better to encourage loyalty and cooperation than pure rivalry and competition (as Eric does). And yet it’s undeniable that the capture the flag game does encourage competition—even Christina, Tris’s friend, competes for the right to claim the flag.
After the game, two of Tris’s teammates, Uriah and Marlene, congratulate Tris on her bravery and quick thinking. She and her friends laugh and joke during the train ride home.
Tris’s skill has gained her some new friends—friends who aren’t transfers from other factions. This symbolizes Tris becoming more and more tied to the Dauntless community.