Divergent names

Divergent is a young adult novel written by Veronica Roth (consisting in 3 books : Divergent, Insurgent and Allegiant) and a movie (so far).

In a dystopian and futuristic Chicago, people are divided into five factions that represent a virtue: Amity (friendship, peace and harmony), Candor (values [brutal] honesty and order), Abnegation (altruism and help to others in need), Erudite (knowledge and education), Dauntless (fearlessness and bravery).
Beatrice (later known as “Tris”) leaves in the Abnegation sector (which has never felt quite right), having reached age sixteen, she, and her brother Caleb, now have to take a test which will help them decide whether they should stay in their birth faction or leave their family and friends in order to be their true selves. Unfortunately, the test reveals that Tris doesn’t fit in any social category, she’s Divergent. It must stay a secret because Divergent are threats to the system since they can’t be controlled. Beatrice decides to go with the Dauntless which she has always admired by a far. Now an initiate, she becomes Tris and encounters Four, her Dauntless instructor. You have to read/watch the rest to find out what happens next!

Divergent piqued my interest because names seemed an important deal in this universe: the main character “changes” her name to a surname, Four isn’t really a name (or I’m unaware of a number trend except the Beckham’s daughter Harper Seven, Andre 3000 and Erykah Badu’s son Seven Sirius Benjamin or the Novogratz’s son Five Beck… Actually it could work!) and I knew some of the names’ meanings and it seemed to click with the character’s personality.
I also read Veronica Roth’s snippet What’s in a name? (from The Path to Allegiant) who enlightened me a little bit but it seems the author did give it thought but not as much as I thought….

Veronica Roth chose many Biblical (Hebrew) names and Latin and Greek rooted names so all of them are well established (even though some are fairly unused). All characters are known by a single name maybe because the population is limited so there aren’t duplicates and confusion.

Beatrice Prior means “she who brings happiness”. I think the meaning is beautiful, it’s so sweet, warm and gentle. Beatrix is more daring and vintage-y and Beatriz is the sweet Mediterranean option with the sassy –z ending (pronounced bee-a-tr-eej). When Beatrice jumps from a rooftop to the Dauntless headquarters, Four asks her name, seeing her hesitate he says she only has one chance and Tris is born. Roth explained her choice for Beatrice going by Tris by saying that, like a pope or a reborn believer who has to change his/her name to enter his/her new life, unlike “Beatrice”, “Tris” embodies a new person, who isn’t tied to a past and has the chance to start all over again and create a new identity. Tris clearly lives up to her promise throughout the books showing great bravery, intelligence, sacrifice and loads of love.

Four’s real name is Tobias Eaton, which, like Toby, means “God is good”. His nickname stuck after his former Dauntless initiation instructor bestowed it to him [*SPOILER*] because fear landscapes simulations revealed he only has four fears [*END OF SPOILER*]. Four is a badass nickname and it suits him well but I like his softer Tobias side and the fact that he almost gave this name as a present for Tris to cherish. It seems like very few people like his real name, though!

Marcus Eaton and Evelyn Johnson are Tobias’ parents. Marcus struck me the most because it means “warlike”, it’s amazing how it embodies one of this character’s biggest trait! Names like Marcel(l)a/o also share the same meaning. On the other hand, Evelyn, like Aveline/a, mean “wished for child” or “hazelnut”.

Andrew, Natalie and Caleb Prior are Beatrice’s family members. Andrew is the patriarch, his name means “strong and manly”, Natalie means “birthday of the Lord, born on Christmas day” and Caleb means “devotion to God”.

Christina is a “feminization” of Christian, a word name.
Cara means “friend” and it’s sweet because she helps the Dauntless, Peter means “rock” and Will(iam) “resolute protector”.
Uriah and Zeke are biblically named brothers, Zeke is a nickname for Ezekiel, “God strengthens” and Uriah means “God is my light”.

I thought of (hypothetical) names for Tris and Four’s (hypothetical) babies related to their families and history together.
I imagined they would have three children, two girls and a boy last: Eliora Natalie, Clementine Arabella and Matthias Everett Eaton. They have two names because the world is bigger now and so it adds more meaning and it allows them to honor more people!

Eliora means “God is my light”, just like Uriah, Natalie is an obvious homage to Tris’ beloved mother, Clementine means “clement, merciful, mild”, a nod to their Abnegation past and Arabella means “yielding to prayer”, religion being an underlying theme and Tris wondering if she’s a believer. Lastly, Matthias means “gift of God” and Everett means “brave” and is related to their Dauntless past and how they met. I feel like Tobias would have been an amazing father but would have been relieved after the birth of his only son, always fearing a mirrored relationship from his and his father’s, realizing he had nothing to worry about.

What do you think? Do you agree with my analysis? What are your favorite Divergent names?

See you soon,
Carol

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