From now on, the Dauntless-raised recruits train alongside the transfers. Lynn, a Dauntless-raised recruit, asks who’s the highest-ranked transfer. Peter answers, and Lynn smirks. One by one, Four calls the recruits out to go through a simulation. When it’s Tris’s turn, Four tells her that she’s going to “face her fear.” He gives her a serum, which she recognizes as the same kind of serum she took for her aptitude test.
It’s telling that the second stage of Dauntless training is psychological in nature—facing one’s fears directly. This suggests that psychological strength is far more important than physical prowess. This also means that Tris will now be on more equal ground with her peers, who can’t rely on their superior physical strength anymore.
As the serum sets in, Tris feels that she’s standing in a field of grass. Suddenly, a flock of crows flies toward her, tearing at her body with their talons. Blood drips down Tris’s body, and she weeps. Suddenly, Tris hears Four’s voice: “You stay in the hallucination until you can calm down.”
Tris feels birds tearing her skin, probably symbolizing her anxieties about leaving her family behind (as she got a tattoo of birds to represent her family members).
Tris tries to calm herself, but can’t—she continues weeping. Suddenly, she finds herself sitting back in her chair, next to Four. Four tries to console Tris, but can’t. Tris attacks Four for “torturing her,” but Four insists that learning how to be brave isn’t easy—the simulations are necessary. Tris whispers that she wants to go home. Four then tells Tris a secret: the training process for new recruits has changed lately. It’s become more rigorous and sadistic, thanks to the influence of Eric, the protégé of the Dauntless leader. Tris tells Four that, if he’d accepted a government job of his own—appropriate for someone ranked first in training—then he could have ensured that the training program was gentler. Four doesn’t reply to this.
Four may be more kind and nurturing than Eric, but he’s still a trainer whose job is to produce warriors. Thus, it’s only natural that Tris would begin to resent Four for his toughness. Even though he’s friendly with Tris, he still gives her difficult challenges that are scientifically designed to push her and even hurt her. In her anger, Tris points out the complications of Four’s otherwise humble, “selfless” decision to remain a trainer rather than joining the government. Ironically, by putting his loyalty to recruits before his own ambition, Four has potentially damaged his recruits’ lives by allowing the sadistic Eric to have too much government power of his own.