I’m divergent!

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These scripts have echoed in my mind for the last weekend:

“Maybe you are not quite dauntless as you thought you are.”

“You’re right. I’m not. I’m divergent.”

Some may realize the movie that such scripts came from. I’m writing about “Divergent”, the latest movie I have seen and it should be the latest one I have replayed three times to catch all the scripts that coming throughout the movie (the latest but “Divergent” was “About time”). While it may be a little bit difficult to find out common things shared between these two movies that make a not-a-movie-enthusiast like me to watch more than twice, the reasons are quite simple:  (1) The plot is quite comprehensible and straightforward. I do not expend lots of efforts understanding what’s going on the screen but save some of them for thinking about the underlying stories; (2) A great number of ideas has come across my mind and it is by no means an easy task to summon all of them in a brief post.

For ones who have not get to know “Divergent”, the setting of the movie is post-apocalyptic Chicago and people living here are divided into five factions for the leader’s belief in the system’s ability to keep everything in control. Some of my friends, on hearing my strong interest in this movie, have suggested me seeing “The Hunger Games” or “The Maze Runner”.  I may see the movies in the future should I have time and enough patience to expend a night for them. The things that I have made it clear that it is not about the theme or the setting that get me that hooked on the movie (though I can hardly deny that I have been overwhelmed by the devastated and dilapidated buildings in the movie) but the ideas that underlie are familiar yet conveyed in a very original way.

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As described on Wikipedia, “the novel explores the themes common to young adult fiction, such as adult authority and the transition from childhood to maturity” and “probes the place of authority and identity within the youth’s relationship to parents and other social forces”. These above sentences have done a good job at recapping the main ideas that run throughout the trilogy. However, I find the story more resonate with what’s happening at the stage of college graduation when young people have to decide the career they will go for. Every year million of newly graduate get out of university and run crazily in a rat race to get into prestigious firms. They also undergo many types of aptitude tests, simulation tests and so on. Some gets hired and some receives a long letter of rejection to describe the only reason of being kicked out “We find other people suitable for the position than you are”. Some may perceive that there should be something wrong with them for not being accepted at any workplace Some are intelligent enough to fake your own identity (like the way Tris acted as a Dauntless instead of improvising like a Divergent to pass the mental test) and get into the firm. You may be the ones who are incapable of expressing yourselves and become Factionless (I mean Jobless there). For instant, you apply for an accounting firm so you should be careful, compliant, and “promisingly committed” as the way how people define an auditor or a tax consultant. I remember the time when I get an interview into these firms, I do feel that people try seeking in the applicants the desirable “fixed” traits that best describes their current highly committed employees and winnow the ones that express the traits diverging from the checklist. I do not mean to criticize for such method, the recruiters should have considered a lot when deciding to hire an employee and playing safe by choosing the ones with similar traits. The story, of course, does not end at the entrance of these “Factions”, it continues even after your “transfer” into these Factions. Some choose to live with the identity that people in their affiliations are perceived to possess. Some struggle if they possess more than one trait and they resist being mixed. Fortunately, the Divergent in our real life is not prone to the risk of being killed anytime by the leaders. Luckily, some will treasured by their colleagues for their unique way of thinking. In some cases, however, a divergent may be stereo-typed by HR officers for ones who have a higher tendency of being a job-jumper and their presence in the offices may not be highly appreciated.

The story also makes me resonate with the ways some young people try to define themselves. While self-defining or self-positioning should be a long process that requires incessant thinking, young people often try to confine the definition about themselves in the narrow or easily put words that used to described the roles in the society like Joe the accountant or Kevin the engineer. They define themselves as woman or man and soon they let these definitions, rather than their own rational senses, decide the way they act. You are women so you are supposed to be more submissive. You are an accountant so it is comprehensible for you to be kind of compliant or stiff. Some may define themselves by the horoscope under which they were born, which results in a great number of statuses on my Facebook newsfeeds trying to defend their actions based on the characteristics deemed for their sun signs, moon signs, etc. And when they try to confine themselves to these lazily put definitions, they confine their ways of thinking as well.

Besides the identity theme that subtly mentioned throughout the movie, I was also impressed at many thought provoking conversations between characters in the movie or the creative situations that Roth put her characters in so that they can fully express their own personalities. The novel has done a good job in telling about the fears, depicting characters’ personalities by the ways they deal with the fears. It also makes me think hard about human nature’s existence, for its goodness that color our lives or for its ugliness that make our lives get complicated. Though the novel has been criticized by some for its oversimplification by setting up a color-coded society, I do think that such simplification makes it easier for us to associate the movie plot with what’s happening in the society.

Perhaps it was too long the post to explain all the ideas blooming in my mind, I may spare the last few words for the movie. I love the way the author chose the settings in her favorite city – Chicago. Such choice of settings surely makes the audiences have a real feeling of the post-apocalyptic era (should it exist), and provokes a kind of nostalgic feeling for the once beautiful yet severely destroyed city (even in one who has not been to Chicago like me). I have been in awe of the author for adding many creative details in the movie like the zip line from the skyscraper or the simulations. For ones who do not take a liking to the sci-fi movies for its unreasonably “creative” stuff, this movie with its creativity based on the real things we may see in our daily life is suitable to my liking.

While the aptitude test of mind on the website of the movie showed me that I am divergent with two most outstanding traits to be Candor and Erudite (Dauntless came out fifth, following Amity and Abnegation, which did not come to me as surprise), I do like the Dauntless for their fearless and freedom (though the Dauntless turns out to be not that ideal at the end of the movie) should I have to make a choice. However, it sounds cool after all to be divergent, doesn’t it?

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