Guest Post: David the Mysterious in ‘Allegiant’ Finale

A Guest Post from Fr. Isaiah Mary Molano, OP, to re-open our discussion of Allegiant, the controversial finale of the Divergent trilogy; enjoy!

Within pages of starting Allegiant, we are introduced to a world outside the fence. A new world, a new life concept, new presuppositions, and new characters. One character I would like to ponder about is David, the head of the Bureau.

David is the Lord and Master of all of the experimental cities in the new United States. The Bureau of Genetic Welfare’s goal is to make more perfect humans by manipulating certain behaviors and life concepts of the people inhabiting the cities—like the faction system. David has the singular purpose of maintaining the experiments at all costs, even to the cost of taking away lives and memories, in order to allow the experiments to continue for the sake of the betterment of humanity.

There is another David I would like us to compare him to: King David of the Hebrew Scriptures. This King David had a singular purpose of loving God, taking care of his people, singing and dancing his praises.

Both Davids have that singular purpose for taking care of their respective communities, whether it be the experiments or the nation. Both were in charge of maintaining their cities and doing their best to keep the peace. Both were prepared to go to extreme lengths to protect their own. For the David of the Bureau, he was willing to erase the memory of Chicago’s inhabitants in order to keep the experiment going. David of Jerusalem, he fled his own city when his own son Absalom pursued him in order to take the crown from his father. Both loved the wrong women to their eventual detriment. David of the Bureau loved Natalie, whose daughter was David’s eventual demise. David of Jerusalem loved Bathsheba, and his copulation with her led to a curse upon Israel and a downturn to his rule.

Lastly, there is a great irony to both of their stories. With David of the Bureau, his unending task is to find the purest genetically cured human being. That being was standing in front of him at the end of the series, and he killed her. Tris was immune to almost everything that the Bureau put in front of her. She survived Janine’s serums. In Insurgent, Tris implies that she would have liked to battle the truth serum (page 144) and most importantly, she survived the death serum. I would bet that she could have survived the memory serum as well if she were given the chance. Tris is very much what David had been spending his life to find.

David of Jerusalem’s fall into irony is that the son that he was not supposed to have ends up being the Wise King Solomon. In Solomon’s youth, he is a great teacher of wisdom, faithful to the covenant like his father. Yet if David kept to his oath, and did not take Uriah the Hittite’s wife, Solomon would never have been born. Moreover, David’s last will and testament would not be David’s to claim. You would think that a King who loved his God so much would be able to build a temple. But the first temple is named after the man who built it—Solomon’s temple, not David’s. Despite David’s great love for God, it was Solomon, a son who should not have been born, that builds the temple and is the father of the wisdom tradition of ancient Israel.

This isn’t a perfect comparison, of course. But Roth has continually claimed the importance of names. In some ways, naming gives power, in the case of Four (not to mention Tobias’ note to Tris, addressed to “VI” and signed, “IV”). In some ways, a new beginning, in the case of Tris. Some have overt meanings—Christina is a Christlike figure insofar that she saved Four of his erasure, Andrew Prior led Natalie to a deep sense of love and sacrifice (like how Andrew led Peter to Jesus), Matthew told Tris the truth (akin to an evangelist) and helped participate in her mission (akin to an apostle). David can be on this intentional list of names.

Names are important. Perhaps those of us who decry Allegiant can focus on the tools Roth has left us and find the nuggets of gold for our alchemy.

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