October is an exciting month for any YA lit fan, because it includes Teen Read Week! In honor of this annual celebration of young adult literature, YALSA invited book-loving teens all over the world to apply to share their enthusiasm for reading in a guest post for The Hub. Thirty-one talented young writers were chosen, and we’ll be featuring posts from these unique voices all month long. Here’s Nedda Bozorgmehri from California.
On the surface, Divergent can be viewed as a popular young adult action-packed novel about bravery, love, and perseverance. The book has captured the attention of many young adults for its thrilling plot line and stimulating characters. However, there is one aspect of this captivating book that most people probably have not taken into consideration: connecting Divergent to history. Divergent is quite the modern book with its utopian world of faction systems created to prevent war. By diving deeper into the depths of Divergent and closely analyzing the ideas in text, one can discover that Divergent also has a historical significance as it can be related to the revolutionary ideas of communism and capitalism.
The factions were created with the hopes of eliminating future war and violence. It was believed that if each person selects their faction and focuses only on their faction’s morals everyone will be equal and there will be no conflict. This idea of creating a world in which all people are equal with the hopes of eliminating war, can be related to communism. A communist society is one in which resources are created and distributed equally among all members. On the other hand, capitalism promotes free enterprise; in this society individuals benefit and prosper based on their own innovation and productivity. Selfishness arises in a capitalist government as people compete to sell the ideas they think are best. Whereas in a communist government, selfishness fails to exist due to the encompassing sense of equality and selflessness. Abnegation, the faction where all members are required to be selfless in all the actions they endeavor, can be related to communism. Erudite, the highly intelligent â€œbookwormâ€ faction, can be connected with the capitalist ideals, as they want to obtain more control of the government, sell their own ideas, and reject the â€œcommunist idealsâ€ of Abnegation. In Divergent, Abnegation is the faction that has control over the government; Erudite opposes this and believes that the â€œintelligentâ€ faction ought to have control over the government. The idea of capitalism falls under the members in the Erudite faction because in a sense they are being selfish and wanting to take over the government since they want to promote their ideas and technologies. Most people believe that Tris is a threat to this society because the fact that she is divergent means she cannot fall under the spell of manipulative Erudite serums and trackers. Within historical context, Tris is divergent because she can be both a capitalist (Erudite) and act selfishly, or she can be a communist (Divergent) and act selflessly. Because of her mixed personality, she puts the faction system in jeopardy.
The idea of creating a more perfect â€œutopianâ€ society is nothing new, as it has been prevalent throughout history during the period of Marx and Lenin. Marx believed that through communism a selfless and equal societal class would be created. He believed that by eliminating competition and inequality, conflict would also be prevented because no one would have a purpose for triggering war. Prominent aspects of Marxist communism are revealed in the Abnegation Faction; the main goal of Abnegation is to function in ways that will benefit the entire faction system and to have their actions benefit all. Later on, a man named Vladimir Lenin took Marxist Communist ideas to the next level as he believed in the establishment of a society where no one can be better than anyone else and the government is in charge of providing resources to the less fortunate lower classes. These details are highlighted in Divergent, considering that Abnegation’s primary goal is to serve the factionless (the lower class) and to treat everyone equally. Additionally, in Leninists communism only one governing body existed and had control over everyone else. In Divergent, Abnegation is the governing body and no other factions are allowed to take part in controlling the government. Capitalist ideals are represented in the Erudite faction. In the book Divergent, Erudite are known for their ability to invent technologies and obtain various resources. They are knowledgeable people who love to learn. Erudite believed that conflict can be prevented through knowledge and understanding. The Erudite faction leader, Jeanine, believes that in order to create a more perfect society Erudite must be in charge of the faction system. Jeanine displays characteristics of greed and selfishness similar to those of extreme capitalists.
Furthermore, it is quite interesting to see how these historical ideals indirectly appear in Divergent. This demonstrates how history truly influences our actions and ideas today; key historical aspects can be applied to almost anything. By unraveling the historical aspects of Divergent, one can see how it is very difficult to achieve peace in a world full of divisions and inequalities. However, it is also challenging to achieve peace in a society where only one group has control over everything, and everyone must follow their say. After evaluating the relationships between Divergent, communism, and capitalism I would like to propose my own suggestion for how peace could be held between societies or factions. How can a utopian world be fully achieved? It is clear that both communism and capitalism are extreme ideas, with various contradictions in policies. I believe that in order to achieve that perfect world there must be a balance between the two extremes. Developing a compromise that will appease both sides is a great way to establish a strong, prosperous government. It appears to me that Tris is the most successful character in the book because she is Divergent. She hasn’t chosen between one of the â€œextremes.â€ Although in the book Tris’ mixed personality threatens the faction system, I think that in reality her divergence is what makes her character so wise, flexible, and strong. In connection to the book: a government led by the Divergent will be more powerful than a government led by just Abnegation or Erudite. In connection to history: a government led by individuals with diverse personalities, talents, and beliefs seems to be more powerful than a government solely led by extreme ideals such as full communism or capitalism.
(I used Amanda Wilson’s article So You Say You Want a Revolution: Marxism, Leninism, and Capitalism as the Basis for Factions in Divergent, as reference and support.)
~ Ever since Nedda Bozorgmehri was little, she has been passionate about reading and writing. She especially loves reading action packed, exciting novels, like Divergent, that have significant morals and lessons woven throughout.