’10 Questions’ With Veronica Roth, Author of the Divergent Trilogy: Part 1 — Louise Freeman’s Questions

HogwartsProfessor, as the name suggests, is largely a Hogwarts Saga discussion weBlog. It has grown, in the wake of Deathly Hallows’ publication and the advent of the Generation Hex publications reflecting Rowling’s influence, to include serious readings of Stephenie Meyers’ Twilight novels and Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy. Last year we began the long, slow mining of Veronica Roth’s Divergent novels, the mining John Ruskin suggested finds the richest veins.

I wrote three posts about the evident echoes of Harry, Bella, and Katniss in Ms Roth’s Tris to start us off, but it was Louise Freeman, right, a Psychology professor at Mary Baldwin College, who got to the heart of the story in her posts. Read her brilliant A Dip in the OCEAN: Divergent Factions and the Big Five Personality Factors and A Dip in the OCEAN II: Double Dipping Dauntless: Can the neurotic be brave? for the psychological story scaffolding that gives Divergent the ‘wow’ connection and resonance with readers that it does.

I met Ms Roth at Ascendio 2012 (read about that here). I seized the moment and asked her if the HogwartsProfessor staff could have a ’10 Questions’ interview with her as we have with David Downing, Gary Gregg, and T. M. Dolan (not to mention the ’10 Questions’ I write up for each MuggleNet Academia podCast). She said she’d love to. And, as good as her word, Dr Freeman, Mrs Baird-Hardy, and I sent her our questions and she responded. I’ve split the questions up into three parts, those asked by each of the HogPros involved, which I’ll post this week in sequence.

We’ll begin and end with Louise Freeman’s questions — today, her own, in Part 3, my one question will be asked in the context of Dr Freeman’s brilliant psychological exegesis of the novels. On to the interview!

If you haven’t read Divergent or Insurgent, these questions clearly won’t make any sense to you. As plot specific as they are, however, I doubt they will spoil the story for you, either! Having said all that, the first six questions from a very attentive Divergent reader:

1. Who was the unknown Divergent guard that unexpectedly let Tris’s group past him on their way to the control room during the first simulation?

I’m afraid my answer to this is not particularly interesting– he was just a “good samaritan” Divergent who helped Tris’s group and then disappeared into the crowd. Just as I believe in the random cruelty of strangers, I also believe in random goodness, and wanted to show that at a moment when Tris was doubting humanity the most.

2. Was Natalie actively involved in identifying and protecting Divergent children other than her daughter?  She was in charge of recruiting the aptitude test administrators; did she instruct the other administrators to falsify the results and warn the children?

Let’s file this under ‘Questions I Cannot Answer Yet.’

My assumption is that he was either tested by Tori and given a similar warning, or that he’s like Tobias and has such strong instincts toward a particular faction that he received a Dauntless result regardless of his Divergence. (In the past I’ve described it as a rectangle-square situation– not all of the Divergent get an inconclusive aptitude test result, but all people who get an inconclusive aptitude test result are Divergent.)

4. What did Uriah (and any other Dauntless Divergents) do during the first simulation and how did they avoid giving themselves away?

The stories of the other Divergent would all be different, so it’s difficult for me to write a general answer to this question. For Uriah specifically, I believe he didn’t actually do such a great job of not giving himself away– he was clearly a superstar of his initiate class, though he didn’t show the same marked improvement as Tris, which led to his slightly lower rank. I assume he aroused suspicion just as she did, was warned just as she was. As the younger brother of one of Tobias’s good friends, maybe Tobias had something to do with it? I don’t know. That’s a story I haven’t chosen to tell.

5. Tobias told Tris there was a major leadership change 6 years ago, that made the Dauntless training more brutal.  Did other “customs” like bumping off Divergents and exiling the elderly also begin at that time?  Or has Dauntless been less-than-honorable for some time? Natalie’s mother clearly recognized the potential danger for her Divergent daughter some 20 years ago.

I’m sorry to say this, but this question also has to be filed under ‘Questions I Cannot Answer Yet.’

6. How did Johanna get her scar?

Johanna is a survivor of a violent situation, but I never specify just what that situation was. Suffice it to say that it’s her personal experience with violence that inspires her to reject aggression in her own life and transfer from Candor to Amity.

End of Part 1!

The staff wishes to thank Ms Roth for her participation in this online quizzing. Tomorrow: Part 2Elizabeth Baird-Hardy’s Questions about Abnegation names, the Christian content of the series, and, yes, Divergent tattoos! Stay tuned!


  1. I’m just curious about why this page is missing question #3.

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