If you like: jumping right in * nature vs. nurture * choice
This post assumes that you have read the rest of the series, and contains spoilers if you have not.
Allegiant is the third book in the Divergent Series. (See my review of Divergent here and Insurgent here.) The revelation that there is a world outside of the city walls has changed everything. Under the leadership of Evelyn, the society has eliminated factions, but this forced change is more of a metamorphosis into one faction instead of none. This leaves many searching for an alternative, and these rebels seek the world outside the walls for it. They are surprised to discover the world is very different than they have been led to believe, and that their entire lives have been an experiment with the aim of obtaining genetic perfection. They are not a chosen people saved to lead the world to salvation, but instead cultivated to provide a different sort of service to the world.
Once again, everything that Tris thought she knew changes. Her understanding of her status and her role have changed. Every time she fights to unveil the truth, she finds a different story, covered in more lies. First, factions were the only way to live. Then, it was a multi-factioned life. Now, she learns that personality is not the true indication of faction, but instead genetics. As hard as she tries to live in a world without societally imposed boundaries, she discovers a new barrier every time she breaks one down. Tris does not allow this disillusionment to cloud her judgement. She knows that she must find the building blocks of the system before she tries to knock it down. Tris knows that change must be based in upending the foundations of erroneous judgment, and acting too soon can undermine her intentions.
In Allegiant, we learn that governing is always easier when you can sort people into predetermined classes. In Divergent, individuals are allowed to self-sort into the faction of their choice, as long as they only desire to align with one. This view can prove most dangerous when it is too narrow. Individuals need to hide their true natures in order to conform to the harshly ingrained ideals of normalcy. In Insurgent, the diversity of natures is explored, to both good and bad ends. A society that is built on separation and delineation must be entirely remade in order to succeed in a new form. Unfortunately, this change does not come easily, and there will always be those who will do whatever is necessary to maintain the status quo. In Allegiant, this idea is taken one step further. The lives of those inside the manipulated cities are started and reset in order to meet the ever changing metrics determined by those on the outside. No matter what the evidence, some people only see the answers that meet their own expectations. When it is believed that a person’s worth is determined genetically, anyone deemed inferior will never be treated as anything but a subordinate. People are complicated, and biology does not determine everything. Instead of reveling in the intricate combination of nature and nurture that shapes every individual, the field of view is too narrow, and people who wish to be superior see themselves as such. Instead of looking for ways to improve the world for everyone, those who exist in the privileged class always find ways to make it better for themselves at the expense of others. Tris sees this, and is unwilling to accept it. She does not have utopian view, having grown up in such a dystopian place, but after seeing how little a person’s classification actually means about who they are is unwilling to take another classification system at face value. People are good and bad, and most people are not all of one or the other. This basic fact must be inherent to any governing structure in order for it to succeed. Supporting the few at the expense of the many will always lead to unrest, and inevitable coups. Accepting this, and working to make a world that gives people the latitude to be who they are while keeping the peace is the only way a society will last. Unless everyone has a stake in their own future, the world will never survive.
If you would hit the reset button on society, read Allegiant.
Roth, Veronica. Allegiant (Divergent Series). HarperCollins, 2013. Kindle Edition.