Divergent: A Theme You May Not Have Noticed...

Have you ever wondered what kind of person you are? If you had to choose one prominent trait, what would it be? Selflessness? Intelligence? Are you courageous or friendly or honest? The book Divergent made me start to think about these things about myself.

The book takes place in futuristic Chicago, which is completely different from the Chicago we all know today. It’s separated into 5 factions, where people live and spend their entire lives. What’s interesting about this is that the factions are based on personality traits. The main character Beatrice lived in the faction Abnegation, which believes in total selflessness. However, Beatrice is special; she is Divergent, meaning she displays more than one of the 5 traits. The story follows Beatrice as she chooses a faction and lives her life, trying to find out who she really is. 


One thing I found very interesting is a subtle religious theme, scattered throughout the book. This next paragraph may contain spoilers in the plot so I advise reading the book beforehand. The first thing to be aware of there is a mention of God in this book, but it was said that only Abnegation, the selfless, still prayed. Apart from praying, Abnegation also partakes in another symbolic and religious practice: the washing of other people’s feet. During initiation, the initiates would wash the feet of the elders. Washing feet is a very symbolic gesture in Christian society, representing humbleness and love for your fellow man.



Another interesting connection is the portrayal of the Erudite faction, which represents knowledge. In the book, the erudite faction tried to take control of the other factions and served as the main antagonists. This representation of knowledge being evil reflects the story of Adam and Eve, where eating the apple of knowledge was a great sin.

Now the main theme of Divergent was not religion, nor was that the point of the book; however I thought these observations were worth sharing in order to hear other people’s responses. Did anyone else catch these subtle hints? Let me know your thoughts and tell me if I may have missed any more biblical references or if I’m just off my rocker. 

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Comment by Dannika Andersen on September 2, 2012 at 10:35am


Veronica Roth is a religious person, and she thanks God, so I wasn't surprised when I saw these themes, too. When Beatrice's family sits down for dinner, they thank God for their food, but she mentions that not all Abnegation families are religious. On Four's bedroom wall, he has "Fear God alone." When she is drowning in the tank, she thinks about how her mom got her baptized as a baby. She thinks about how she hasn't thought of God in a long time, too, and I can't remember who is was, but she's happy she didn't shoot someone.

Comment by Brandon Yoon on January 11, 2013 at 2:11am
Wow, Cj! I never thought about how relevant religion was in this book. I thought this book was all able identity but after reading this blog, I now know thy it's more about that now. I don't know if these references to biblical stories were intended but my mind is still pretty blown.
Comment by Natsuki on March 6, 2013 at 12:51pm

I never noticed these connections when I sped through the book a few years ago! It makes me want to read through it again at a slower pace.

Comment by Duncan Johnston on March 7, 2013 at 9:01pm

I never noticed that, that was a very good thing you noticed. I'm not sure how many other people actually have picked up on this theme 

Comment by Lizzie N. on March 13, 2013 at 6:58pm

It's really interesting to hear about what other readers notice in books. The new perspective is refreshing. I never picked up on the subtle theme of religion in Divergent so it was nice that you pointed it out.  

Comment by Christopher Benka on March 14, 2013 at 10:48pm

Wow, those are some very interesting observations. Although, I have not read the book from the evidence you offered up I can see why you made those connections. I have been meaning to pick up this book to read, but I keep forgetting. I might just have to rent myself a copy for over spring break.

Comment by Molly Mungons on March 15, 2013 at 3:33pm

I caught some of the religious things, but I never even thought of how Abnegation washing feet related. Nice observations.

Comment by Rachel Wilhelm on March 16, 2013 at 4:52pm

Great observations on your part! I personally did catch a few of the hints, such as the washing of the feet and praying at the dinner table, but reading your post and the ther comments made me realize how big of a factor it was in the story.

Comment by Reilly Siepka on March 17, 2013 at 10:57am

I'm not a very religious person and that helped me miss some of those hints and details when I read the book! Great observations and it's a really interesting topic. You made me realize just how important it is to the story!

Comment by Angela Choi on March 19, 2013 at 8:31pm

Wow. I never saw it that way. Nice observations!


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