It’s true; it’s 2016, and women are literally beginning to take over and stand our ground. Why? Because we’re awesome and empowered and aiming equally is what’s up. The reason I say this is because there are clearly a few things happening in our world today; we have a woman running for president, women are beginning to be recognized as hard-working people, rather than only being good for being nurturing mothers, and women are appearing in the media as strong and empowered heroines. That third point is what I came to talk about.
In the novel Divergent, Tris Prior, a Dauntless initiate, finds herself toward the bottom of the list, basically meaning she could potentially be the first one to become factionless. During the Dauntless initiate training process, the initiates are told to throw knives at a target. Long story short, Tris sees her friend is in trouble, she steps in to stop the antagonist’s bullying.
As a punishment, Tris is told to step in front of the target and Four is appointed the position to throw knives at her without Tris flinching. Knife by knife, Tris stands tall and fearless and definitely gets noticed for her loyalty and leadership she showed the fellow Dauntless.
I like to compare this scene to Barry’s feminist criticism. I believe the author of Divergent, Veronica Roth, made Tris the heroic character of this novel to prove the point that females are heroes, too. Tris is extremely brave, intelligent, and a very hard-worker, which contradicts the stereotypical female from older literature. In the 1960s, Barry states, women in literature were most often staying home with the children and doing “house-wifey” chores (Barry 117). Instead, today, we are looking at women and young adult heroines, like Tris, that completely contrast that ideal. During this scene, it’s clear that Tris shows heroic attributes, which in fact pushes the female stereotype aside.
The next scene I’m going to talk about shows a bit of both sides, which makes me wonder if women can still show vulnerability, yet still be considered a hero? Here’s the story; in the part of the novel when everyone was put under a simulation by the Erudites, the only people it didn’t work for was the divergents. The simulation was meant for the Dauntless to kill and kidnap the Abengation faction. Moving on; Tris ended up running into her mother, who was an Abnegation. At one point, the two were getting shot at because neither of them were under the simulation. Tris’s mother selflessly walked in front of the armed Dauntless and ended up getting killed.
I believe even though that act was completely selfless and brave, it also showed how much mothers will do when nurturing a child. Tris was completely blind-sided by this occurrence, but ran off anyway to find the rest of her family, which showed amazing strength. So, how does this scene connect to feminism?
Another aspect of Barry’s feminist criticism I thought worked well with Divergent as a whole, and especially this scene, was the devised statements titled “what feminist critics do.” One of the statements says “explore the question of whether there is a female language, an écriture féminine, and whether this is also available to men” (Barry 129). The undertone of this scene I believe is telling the viewers that even though women can be strong and heroic, human nature sometimes can overwhelm us. As women, we have a natural instinct to take care of our loved ones, which is exactly what Tris’s mother was trying to do. So, when aI explore the language of this scene, I think it’s saying that women are able to both be heroic, but sometimes we may find ourselves leading the life of the stereotype; because it’s true, women are naturally very nurturing individuals.