Divergent Book and Movie Fansite
From time to time Divergent author Veronica Roth opens up her tumblr page to fan questions. I always love when this happens. Here are a couple recent fan questions and answers that are really insightful.
In “Free Four,” (the scene written from Four’s POV that was available on Facebook but now will be available as an e-booklet on August 9th) Tobias reveals that when he was an initiate, the initiation process was a bit different: initiates went through their fear landscapes immediately after arriving at the Dauntless compound. In Divergent, it’s mentioned a few times that the initiation process has changed quite a bit since Tobias was an initiate (he suggests it has become a lot more brutal, for example), and one of those changes was that the fear landscape was shifted to the end.
So the answer is: they didn’t call him anything, because he didn’t tell them his name. Then after he went through his fear landscape, his instructor, Amar, started calling him Four, and it stuck. The legend was born! Et cetera.
For the sake of…I don’t know, fun, I guess, I’m going to give you the super abridged version:
I wrote a manuscript. I queried 35 agents. I got one request, from an agent heretofore referred to as Agent A. I got 34 rejections. My Agent A request was ultimately a rejection, too, but she invited me to query her again with something else. I started another manuscript. It was Divergent. I revised it a few times. I sent a Divergent query to Agent A and a few others. She and another agent liked it, but the others weren’t interested. I ended up signing with Agent A because I loved her revision notes. I revised Divergent. Several times. She submitted it to editors at a few publishing houses. Someone at HarperCollins loved it. They offered. I got a book contract. That is all!
Actually, no. I think Tris comes the closest a person can get by not choosing. It’s one of the flaws of the aptitude test— since it’s designed to isolate one faction, and not to accommodate Divergence, it necessarily divides Amity aptitude from Dauntless aptitude. That doesn’t mean a person can’t have both kind/peaceful inclinations and brave inclinations, just that the aptitude test is an imperfect measure of a person.
This is an interesting question that I have been asked a lot lately, so I’m going to babble about it for awhile.
One of the reasons this answer has become so complicated for me is this very interesting project that I’ve spent a lot of time looking at lately: http://humanae.tumblr.com/. After you look at it for awhile, skin color doesn’t seem so easy to attach to race. Or easy to define at all.
Here is how Evelyn, Tobias’s mother, is described: “She has curly black hair and olive skin. Her features are stern, so angular they almost make her unattractive, but not quite. …At that moment I realize that he and the woman have the same nose— hooked, a little too big on her face but the right size on his. They also have the same strong jaw, distinct chin, spare upper lip, stick-out ears. Only her eyes are different— instead of blue, they are so dark they look black.”
Evelyn is a POC. I don’t know if Marcus’s skin tone is ever described, but I have always pictured him as white and it seems likely, given that he has blue eyes. (Which is not necessarily a given, with blue eyes, but it’s more common.)
Tobias is described as having his mother’s facial features, but Tris doesn’t notice that until she meets Evelyn. Instead, she notes that Tobias is similar to his father (somewhere— I can’t find it right now), or at least familiar, and in Insurgent Caleb and Tobias have this exchange:
-“Does everyone know you’re Marcus’s son? The Abnegation, I mean?”
-“Not to my knowledge. And I would appreciate it if you didn’t mention it.”
-“I don’t need to mention it. Anyone with eyes can see it for themselves.”
It’s important to me that Tobias look like both of his parents, because his parents are both important people, and I wanted people to be able to see the combination of both parents in his face. Since Tobias’s features are described as being VERY close to his mother’s, I always envisioned his coloring as being close to his father’s, which is why Caleb thinks that people will know Tobias and Marcus are related just by looking at them.
So my highly convoluted answer to your question is: Tobias is mixed race, and while that doesn’t mean he’s as pale as Marcus, it does mean he’s closer to Marcus than Evelyn, in terms of skin color (since she’s decidedly in the middle of the spectrum).
The truth is, I often wish that I had chosen to have a darker-skinned main character in the books (so, either Tobias or Tris), but I wasn’t aware of my own racial “default setting” when I wrote Divergent, or of the severe lack of diversity in YA main characters. I have since become aware and I intend to change things up in the future. But all I can do now is work with what I set up in the first two books, which is why I spent all this time analyzing it for you.
1. Thank you! That’s very sweet of you.
2. This is actually a question I’m asked often, which is why I’m publishing this publicly. I love being an author! It’s the only thing I ever wanted to be, since about sixth grade. So yes, I’ll keep writing after the Divergent Trilogy is done, and I’m pretty positive I’ll be sticking to YA, but I’m not sure what exactly I’ll write yet. One thing at a time.
I think my favorite part to write was page 301.
What would you have asked Veronica? We will continue to bring you the Q&A sessions so keep checking back.