I have read all the books and watched the first movie in the Divergent (2014) series, and apparently it is all meant to mean something:


Contains members who believe dishonesty is the cause of the destruction of the world.


Contains members who believe selfishness of humanit is the cause of world destruction.


Believes it is peace that needs to stablise the world and not aggression.


Believes that the lack of knowledge is what destroyed everything.


Believes cowardice is the reason for world destruction.

We know Tris (16 years of age) is Divergent and she got an aptitude for three factions:

  • Erudite
  • Dauntless
  • Abnegation

According to the books, three factions is near impossible to gain.

When the city is divided up into the above five mentioned factions, they all served a purpose and some could not survive without the other.

Also when the attack on Abnegation happened (Erudite was responsible for this), Tris was one of the few that weren't affected by the attack simulation serum.

We learn later in the story line that the entire city population were actually placed in the city, apparently known as the Chicago Experiment, and according to the Bureau outside the city fence; the bureau is healing Genetically Damaged (GD) people by reproducing them to obtain the Genetically Healed (Pure) people (AKA Divergent).

We know that Caleb, Tris's brother (also 16 years old) is a GD (as he finds out at the Bureau) and he is from the same mother and father.

Tris saves the day from the attack simulation (in Divergent), she saves the hard-drive from being destroyed in Erudite HQ by the Factionless and the loyal Dauntless (the Dauntless who didn't go to Erudite for support) which contains the truth about the city (Insurgent (2015)). She also saves the city from being reset (everyone losing their memory from an aerosol serum) by the Bureau (Allegiant (2016)).

Tris being the Protagonist is obviously representing something as well as the rest of the story line.

What is the significance behind the allegory of the Divergent series?

  • Is there anything in particular that makes you think that Divergent is an allegory of something, rather than just a story intended to entertain? Sep 4, 2017 at 23:49
  • Um yes, school has been saying that it is some sort of allegory and meant to portray something. It is something studied at school though I never got to study it. It is all meant to mean something and the word is it is an allegory (that is what the teachers say and the students study it like that)
    – natural
    Sep 4, 2017 at 23:53
  • Wow, things have changed since I was in school. I don't think that we ever studied books that were only 6 years old (or movies that were 3). Just to be clear, this isn't a homework question, is it? While I don't think that Movies.SE has ever needed to state their policy, other stack exchange sites have clear guidelines about homework questions. Sep 4, 2017 at 23:59
  • 2
    No, this isn't a homework question at all. What makes you think that?
    – natural
    Sep 5, 2017 at 0:05
  • You said that "school has been saying that", so I didn't know if you were assigned to write an essay about "the allegory of Divergent" or something. Sep 5, 2017 at 0:07

1 Answer 1


The book author has never explicitly stated that Divergent is an allegory

Given that the movie is pretty loyal to the book, let's start with looking at that. Author Veronica Roth wrote on her official blog that the faction system had a number of inspirations:

I have a thing for groups, and I always have. It interests me in speculative fiction, whether it's the houses at Hogwarts or the armies in Ender's Game or the houses in Kushiel's Dart (which I didn't read all of, because it made me blush too much, but the house thing kept me going for awhile). I also have a long-time (now abandoned) obsession with personality tests, especially the Meyers-Briggs personality tests (depending on the day I'm an INFJ, INFP, or an ISFJ. I've forgotten what all those mean, though), and the enneagram (I'm a number 1: The Perfectionist. Now that one never changes. Ha). And I've always been interested in government systems that stick people in classes or castes (even if I'm also pretty horrified by them), or high school cliques, as depicted so well in Mean Girls

Note that Roth is pretty clear on these being inspirations, but never says that her book was intended to be an allegory of, or representation of, any of these categorizations.

Third parties have suggested that the book and/or movie is an allegory for various things


Online magazine Astrology Hub published an article about how the five factions is a (potentially accidental) allegory for the five visible planets.

Little did I know that I’d be watching one of the best explorations of the astrological allegory to be filmed in recent times. […]

Though she may not have realized it, Roth’s faction system taps into an equally old classification system — the five visible planets: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn — which probably accounts for their deeply resonant appeal. [...]

And though you may have been “born” into one of the factions, to become more “divine-like” (read fully actualized) [in ancient Greek astrology], was to embrace all of the planet-factions. Embrace them in order to transcend such limitations.

In other words, to become cosmically Divergent.


LGBT-interest magazine The Advocate wrote an article suggesting that the movie is a bisexual allegory.

The film’s familiar story of the struggle of outsiders born different from those around them will resonate with many LGBT viewers who have been drawn to similar allegories found in films like X-Men, but it’s Divergent’s theme of difference through the multiplicity of one’s identity that has the potential to strike a strong chord with anyone who is bisexual.

“The five factions represent the basic levels of conformity and a divergent fits into not one of them, but multiple,” James says as he examines the perceived subtext once more aloud. “Yeah, I can see it. That’s interesting.”


Motivational speaker and author Sheila Gregoire writes on her blog that Divergent is an allegory for Christianity.

The author, Veronica Roth, apparently started them when she was only 19, and sold them in her early twenties. She is a Christian. The books are not–outwardly. But I have never read such a good Christian allegory as these books. I truly believe Divergent is a Christian novel. The central question she is asking in the series is this:

Is it possible for humans, on their own, to overcome original sin?

And the conclusion? Nope.

Final Thoughts

SparkNotes, a company that puts out literary study guides, doesn't make any claims about there being any overt allegories in this book/film. I would think that if there were any obvious allegories, it would have been pointed out by a company like them.

I personally think that these sorts of allegories in Divergent are just as speculative (and baseless) as Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith being an allegory of George W. Bush, The Hunger Games being an allegory for Donald Trump, or Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers being an allegory for the September 11th attacks. People see all sorts of allegories that were never intended, but to paraphrase George Lucas, these sorts of parallels happen all the time throughout history and our lives, so it's natural that people would make unintended connections.

For what it's worth, author Veronica Roth shared her thoughts on allegories a few years before writing Divergent:

Also: just because what you write doesn't have some deep allegory embedded in it, doesn't mean it's not important. If it affects someone in a positive way, that's important.

Does this mean that she didn't plan to add a deep allegory for Divergent? I'll let you decide.

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