Who are you? – Are you truthful? Bold and thrill-seeking? Selfless? A “know-it-all”? Or just a person who tries to keep the peace? In the Dystopian novel, Divergent by Veronica Roth, these are the characteristics of factions in a futuristic Chicago, where 16 year old, Beatrice Prior is required to take the Aptitude test to decide which faction is she more like. However, she is different, she is supposed to only fall into one faction but she falls into many. People like her are called “Divergent”, which is considered to be dangerous to society because Divergent minds cannot be controlled or forced to a certain way of thinking.
Dystopian novels make its audience do a self reflection in order for the audience to really connect with the characters in each novel. In these novels, there becomes a question of “Where do I fit in?” In an article on The Artifice titled, “How Dystopian Futures Are Merely Mirrors into Our Own Society,” the author says that Dytopian novels are a “shadowed face of ourselves reflected back in the dim lights of our bed-side lamp” and books, in general, allow us to see our reality through an imagined one. So if this is the case, where do you fit in?
So, who are the real Divergents? – the people that are deviating or differing. A tweet by @DystopianYANovel, suggests that these people would be the introverts in our society. Who knew that not always wanting to be on the scene makes you different? However, in actuality, you, the upcoming generation is already diverging from social norms. Young adults are determining for themselves what do they believe in, and then fighting for those things, while still in the process of figuring themselves out.
According to Erik Erikson, a psychologist who is well known for his theory on the development of human beings, the fifth psychosocial crisis in life is identity versus role confusion (Berger, 356). This stage is when a person tries to figure out “Who am I?” but can be confused about which role to adopt. As young adults emerge, the question of identity is already a constant debate but as dystopian novels like Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Maze Runner, are on the rise, the quest to finding one’s self is becoming more evident. In the short film “Identity,” it shows how in our society, young adults are hiding who they really are behind a mask, because a person can only be who society wants them to be – which is not true at all. The video ends with the main character taking off her mask, finally being her own person.
Dystopian novels show young adults that you do not have to conform to the social norms in society – you can be whoever it is you want to be and if you don’t fight for individuality, the world you know too, can soon go bad. We are all different, and that is about the only real thing we share. We are diverse in personalities, talents, and beliefs. The direction the world is moving in, is embracing individual’s stories. There even movements like “Dear World”, which allows people to share their story, share their hopes or fears, regardless of their religion, race or language.
In “A Qualitative Survey Examining the Moral Identities of Young Adults” by Oya Onat Kocabiyik, and Adnan Kulaksizoglu, it says that “an individual does not feel the necessity or responsibility to behave in certain ways” because the individual will behave how he chooses to. And if the individual is a part of a group, a “moral atmosphere” is created and the individual sucks up the identity and the moral values of the group, but it is best to be in control – meaning, pick an identity for yourself. It is okay to be yourself, whoever that person may be. So go out and be Divergent, take off your mask and be free.