This article contains spoilers from Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy
Even if you haven’t read the final book in the Divergent series, you’ve probably heard about its ending. Veronica Roth’s unusual decision to kill off her main character was pretty surprising, especially since most of the series was relatively predictable. So it was to be expected that swarms of fans were outraged when they turned to that unfaithful page and learned how Tris Prior’s story ended while Four’s continued on. However, if you ask me, I think Roth was completely justified in killing Tris.
One of the biggest complaints about Roth killing Tris was that fans felt her death was meaningless; Tris died from a gunshot, a completely boring and seemingly avoidable death. She didn’t go out with a bang—well, I mean, she did, but you know what I mean—instead, Tris died rather quickly and there was little to no room for an explanation as to what more happened to her afterwards. But I think the fact that her death was so meaningless is what actually gave it purpose.
In reality, it’s not often that our favorite character(s) makes it to the end of the story, this is true with protagonists as well. Personally, I grew a bit tired of the predictability of the main character’s safeness because most authors aren’t always as willing to put their lead characters on the line for the sake of the story. Roth took a chance to develop an idea, and though it may not have necessarily been her aim, by killing off her main character she illustrated the fragility of life, and how easy it is for someone to become just another casualty, even if that casualty happens to be the main character.
Some of the arguments fans have used against Roth in her decision to kill Tris are rooted in accusations of misguided shock value. Many fans suspect Roth’s only intent behind killing her off in the final book was to add another twist to the conclude her trilogy. And maybe this is true, but whether Roth anticipated that to be the result or not, I think Tris’s death makes a statement that war isn’t cheap and sometimes the price is paid with losing someone we least expect. Although her death was easily avoidable, that is what makes it so critical to the story.
At one point, even Four says there’s a fire inside Tris that burns so brightly that it isn’t meant to last forever. It makes sense that Tris didn’t make it to the end, considering the way she lived, constantly at risk. Really, it’s just surprising that she made it as long as she did.
Another quarrel fans had with Tris’s death was conciliatory in that it was used to advance and develop her male counterpart. It’s what fans referred to as “man pain,” a plot device used to develop the emotional journey of a male character—in this case, her boyfriend, Four. However, I don’t think this is what Roth was after, especially considering the series ended with Tris’s death.
After The Divergent Series: Allegiant was released last year, Roth wrote We Can Be Mended, an exclusive epilog only made available to customers who purchased her latest novel, Carve the Mark. While it would’ve made more sense for the epilog to have accompanied Allegiant—because, in retrospect, the book was pretty incomplete without it—it was pretty important seeing as it reveals Four’s life two years after Tris’s passing. Personally, I was happy with the way Roth represented Four’s life post-Tris. He seemed to be moving on from her death. We Can Be Mended shows that moment still means something to Four—Tris’s involvement in his life—but her death does not destroy him. Of course, I can definitely understand how people would be upset had there not been an epilogue—Divergent would lose closure without it.
Overall, though, I strongly disagree with the assumption that Roth killed Tris because she intentionally wanted to shock or anger her fans. And even if she did, the moral behind her protagonist’s death is still present: the lead character doesn’t always make it out alive, and that sort of loss is possible in times of war and uprising.We should be angry that Tris is dead, for sure. But being angry with Roth is pretty pointless, if you ask me. Tris’s death is bigger than its shock value
We should be angry that Tris is dead, for sure. But being angry with Roth is pretty pointless if you ask me. Tris’s death was much greater than its rumored shock value.
What do you think about Tris’s death in Allegiant?
Do you think Roth intended to upset her fans, or does her death serve a purpose?
Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!