The next morning, Tris is in an excellent mood. In the dining hall, Tris sees Tobias, but he doesn’t sit with her. Uriah reminds everyone that it’s fear landscape day—instead of going through their own landscapes, the recruits will travel through the landscape of one of the instructors. Christina hopes that it’s Tobias’s landscape: she’s sure that beneath his tough exterior, he’s weak and easily scared.
Christina isn’t far off: she recognizes that Tobias’s toughness is all for show. This points to the fact that toughness is often a performance, rather than a natural trait. Since arriving at Dauntless, Tris has become skilled at exactly this performance.
The coach of the Dauntless-born initiates, Lauren, tells everyone what they await in today’s fear landscape. The average person has about 15 fears: by experiencing these fears head-on, recruits can teach themselves to be braver.
Life in the five factions is so rigorously controlled that even one’s fears are tabulated and counted up. Even if this seems unrealistic, the basic idea of fear-training—that facing one’s fears one can help one become braver—is hard to disagree with.
Tris watches as the other students go through their fear landscape session. Each student plugs into a computer and takes serum, allowing them to see an instructor’s fears. When it’s Tris’s turn, she’s not nervous. Lauren injects her with serum. Tris sees a deep chasm, into which she’s being lowered. She begins to scream and cry, and suddenly, Tris finds herself back in the dark room, surrounded by Lauren and Tobias. Tobias asks, “What the hell was that?” Tris has become too frightened, but when she sees Tobias’s face, she manages to calm herself. Tobias says, “This is pathetic,” and Tris is so furious that she punches him in the face. She walks out of the room.
Tris thought that she could master her own fears. But she’s deviated too far into sentimentality and tenderness: she finds herself identifying with the people who’ve hurt her, like Al, and returning to the most painful episodes in her life, such as her near-death experience in the chasm. These aren’t unnatural ways to think by any means, but they certainly don’t make Tris a better Dauntless soldier. Tobias has a tough job: he has to train Tris as a soldier while also showing his love for her. At times, Tobias can’t do both—here, for instance, he goes too hard on Tris, provoking her anger.