Tris and her family assemble a team to sneak into the Dauntless headquarters and shut down the computers: Caleb (since he’s Erudite, and knows some things about the mind-control project), Andrew (since he’s an Abnegation leader), and Marcus, who claims to be good with computers. The team climbs onto the train and heads for Dauntless.
Here, Tris assembles a team of her own, incorporating the best of Abnegation, Erudite, and Dauntless. This reinforces another key point: it is possible for different kinds of people to cooperate and work together—in other words, they don’t have to live in competition and mutual hate, and in fact are stronger when they combine their skills. All this further suggests why the government purposefully divides people up—to keep them from uniting and becoming more powerful.
Onboard the train, Marcus asks Tris about her choice. Tris replies that she doesn’t regret choosing Dauntless at all: Dauntless taught her how to be brave and selfless.
Tris’s words are important to understand her character. Even if Dauntless wasn’t the “perfect” fit for her, it gave her lessons that are undeniably important, about trust, loyalty, and bravery.
Tris and the others arrive at the Dauntless compound. They manage to jump off the moving train without trouble, and Tris remembers, almost nostalgically, the first time she jumped off the train. Tris then tells her team to jump off the roof into the net below—just as Tobias told her to do on her first day in Dauntless. Andrew, Caleb, and Marcus are frightened of jumping, but they manage to convince themselves to take the leap.
It’s a mark of Tris’s coming of age that she’s now teaching the other members of her “Team” to jump from the moving train. At the beginning of the novel, Tris was the reluctant student, summoning the courage the make the jump. This scene essentially shows the “undauntless” characters becoming Dauntless themselves, further reinforcing the absurdity of this society’s categorization of people.
When everyone has landed in the net, they hear a voice, ordering them to surrender. Tris is surprised to find that the voice belongs to Peter—who’s clearly still “awake.” Tris manages to overpower Peter by kicking him in the groin. She points a gun to his head, and asks Peter why he’s not a zombie—Peter says that he was handpicked to be a leader, based on his “skill set.” Tris tries to make Peter tell her where the computers are, and she shoots him in the arm. Peter, wincing in agony, tells Tris that he’ll only tell her the location of the weapons if she helps him escape from the compound safely. Reluctantly, Tris agrees.
Peter is a good “case study” for the corruption of the Dauntless faction. Originally, the Dauntless were supposed to protect the weak, but recently, they’ve begun to glorify power for its own sake. For this reason, Peter is the ideal Dauntless soldier: cold, cruel, strong, and sadistic. Tris is understandably reluctant to form an alliance with someone so odious, but she seems to have no choice—she’s not a torturer, so she has to bring Peter along with her to the computer room.
Peter takes Tris to the eighth floor of headquarters. They pass by the stores and meeting rooms where Tris has spent most of her last few months. The team follows Peter to the eighth floor, where they find a group of soldiers. The soldiers fire at Tris and her friends, but Tris manages to shoot some of them first. Tris notices that one of the soldiers isn’t behaving like a zombie—like her, he must be Divergent. That soldier motions for Tris and her friends to leave, and they run away.
The Divergents are a secret group within but also apart from the factions. Because they must keep their identities hidden, they have no way of communicating or acting as a real “group,” but when they can recognize each other, there is an automatic sense of loyalty and solidarity between them. Essentially, they are their own “faction.”
Tris orders Marcus and Caleb to stay behind with Peter, who’s been seriously wounded in the arm, thanks to Tris. For a split second, Tris feels sympathetic for Peter, but then she remembers what he did to Edward.
Tris continues to think in terms of action and reaction, offense and revenge. For this reason, she can’t summon much sympathy for Peter—he hurt Edward, and therefore he deserves to suffer.
Andrew and Tris proceed to the computer room. As they draw closer, they see another group of soldiers approaching. Andrew runs away from the computer room, drawing the soldiers away from Tris’s final destination. To Tris’s horror, Andrew runs toward a hallway that she knows to be a dead-end. There’s a loud shot, and Tris sees her father groaning in pain. She whispers, “Dad,” and watches as he falls to the ground.
Andrew dies protecting his child, just as Tris’s mother did. The tragic irony of this is that Tris finally has a guarantee that her parents really do love her—i.e., they haven’t come to hate her for leaving Abnegation. But the cost of this guarantee is very high. Tris loses her parents forever, as they both make a very Christian and “abnegating” sacrifice.
Tris manages to collect her feelings. Instead of staying behind to crouch over her father’s body, and then die herself, she runs into the computer room. There, she finds a wall of TV screens, showing images of every corner of Abnegation. She also finds Tobias, sitting in a chair.
Tris is about to face her toughest challenge: she’ll be pitted against the person she cares about most.