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Smart Pop Classics’ Summer of YA Romance: From Factions to Fire Signs

In the Smart Pop Classics’ Summer of YA Romance series, we share greatest hits from our throwback YA essay collections. This week, Rosemary Clement-Moore explores personality types and elements of heroism in her essay “From Factions to Fire Signs” from Divergent Thinking

What’s your sign?

It’s a pickup line so old that dinosaurs used it to hook up down at the Tar Pit Lounge.

Back in the day, in the time between matchmakers and Match.com, people had to go places in person when they wanted to meet a potential date. One had to actually start a conversation. Verbally. Face-to-face. It’s a feat that the bravest Dauntless might find paralyzing.

Asking someone’s astrological sign as a conversational opener would be a great time-saver, relationship-wise, if the date of your birth were any kind of reliable predictor of personality or compatibility. Instead, it really says more about the asker: Ironic hipster? Geriatric pickup artist in a retirement community? Time traveler from the 1970s? 

(If you’re wondering, I am a Capricorn. According to astrologists, this means I’m industrious, hardworking, ambitious, pragmatic, and tend to be conventional and possibly egotistical. In reality, I am all about “work smarter, not harder,” I write fantasy novels, and, at the moment, my hair is dyed blue.) 

Even people who don’t check their horoscope daily sometimes use zodiac signs as a sort of psychological short-hand to describe people—including themselves. Back in college, my BFF (science major, D&D player, fellow Capricorn) explained why two of our social circle couldn’t get along: “They’re both Leos. It’s their way or the highway.” (My BFF likes to classify things. Of course she does. She’s a scientist, which is a classification in itself.) 

As far as our oil-and-water friends were concerned, it was certainly true that each of them liked things the way she liked them. And both were born under the Leo sign. Coincidence? Almost definitely. 

The difference between being born in a faction or born under a zodiac sign is that while you can’t choose your birthdate, you can choose your faction. Or at least you can pick from a limited range of options. Even if you’re secretly Divergent, you still have only five choices—six, if you count factionless, which is viewed as a fate worse than death. So, basically, you can be Candor, Amity, Abnegation, Erudite, Dauntless, or screwed. 

Dystopian literature is full of worlds where the roles are assigned, rigid, and nonnegotiable. In one of the earliest examples, Brave New World, before people are even born they are sorted into Alphas, Betas, Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons, and assigned jobs like bees in a hive. In Ally Condie’s Matched trilogy, teens have everything from their job to their diet to their future spouse picked for them by complicated statistical algorithms. In the Hunger Games trilogy, the twelve (known) districts of Panem are geographical divisions, but their industry and economy affect both the abilities and attitudes of the tributes, so that saying you’d be from District 1 means something radically different than claiming District 12 as your own. 

Why do we like books that sort people? When it comes to dystopian series like Divergent, there are multiple answers. One, when you divide people up into factions, districts, ideologies, etc., it’s pretty easy to keep them arguing with each other instead of noticing you’re taking over the world. Two, as readers, we learn vicariously that the ability to choose for yourself what your role will be, whom you will love, and whom you will (or won’t) fight is worth overthrowing the powers that be. And three, stories about enterprising heroes who take down totalitarian regimes make satisfying reading, and often very exciting movies. 

But even benign fantasy worlds have their own kind of sorting. J. R. R. Tolkien has Hobbits and Rangers, Elves and Dwarves. And that’s just the good guys. J. K. Rowling’s world has the four houses of Hogwarts, and Anne McCaffrey’s Pern has Holders and Crafters and Dragonriders. World of Warcraft has Horde and Alliance; Dungeons & Dragons has Lawful and Chaotic versions of Good, Evil, and Neutral. 

We like to imagine where we would fit into these worlds. We take online quizzes to sort ourselves into Gryffindor or Slytherin or Ravenclaw (does anyone really want to be Hufflepuff? (1)). In conjunction with the Catching Fire movie, Fandango.com had a “Which District Are You?” quiz. We choose Horde or Alliance. We create characters that are paladins, thieves, mages, and rogues, and confined to the spells/abilities of their class. 

As readers, movie watchers, gamers—let’s say, consumers of story media—we enjoy sorting ourselves based on where our sympathies lie, which character captures our emotions, or what type of fantasy world we would want to live in. Even if you wouldn’t be a Chaotic Evil Horde Orc in real life, there’s a certain charge that comes from declaring yourself the type of person who enjoys playing one. (2) 

So what’s up with that? An Evil Overlord slapping a label on you is bad, but it’s okay to do it to yourself?

Yes and no. Freedom of choice is something worth fighting for. So is knowing who you are, and not being afraid to declare it. But to accomplish our goals, declaring a faction should set our course, not our limits. The Divergent series shows both the power of choice and the cautionary example of being restricted to just one thing. 

The Real World 

Sorting is simply something that we humans like to do. We appreciate having a quick handle by which to grasp the people in our lives. We want to know generally what to expect from someone. For those of us who like to analyze things, we like to, well, analyze people and figure out what makes them do the things they do. 

The term psychiatry wasn’t coined until 1808, but people have been theorizing different ways to sort—and through sorting, better understand—people since there have been people to sort. What we think of as astrology (the zodiac signs, etc.) began back in the b.c. days with the ancient Babylonian astronomers who mapped the seasonal movement of the stars. To their charts the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans added the idea that personality traits were tied to the stars under which you were born. A guy named Ptolemy wrote it all down in the second century a.d., and Western astrology hasn’t changed much since. The Chinese zodiac (year of the Ox, year of the Dragon, etc.) has been around as long or longer. In India, starting about 100 b.c., the Hindu practice of Ayurveda saw mental and physical health as dependent on keeping five different elements in balance. (3) It sorted people into types based on which of those elements predominated. This idea has a parallel in early Western medicine in the form of the four classical “humors”—substances in the body that, when not in balance, would lead to mental and physical illness. (4) Excesses of these humors were connected to specific personality types. For example, too much black bile made you a melancholy person—very detail and task oriented, but hard to please, with a tendency toward depression. Too much blood made you sanguine—good-natured, passionate, and charismatic, but also impulsive and kind of flighty. 

A lot of study has gone into the human psyche since those first ancient astrologers assigned traits to people born under the sign of Capricorn or in the year of the Rabbit. Now we know about genetics and environment and brain chemistry and operant conditioning. But people are still people, and philosophers and scientists remain fascinated by what makes us behave the way we do, in all our variety. (Why do they want to know why we do the things we do? Because they’re scientists and philosophers, of course. That’s what their sort does.)

We don’t just sort other people, of course. We also sort ourselves. In our modern world, we start picking factions about the same age Tris picks hers, only we don’t call them Dauntless and Erudite and Abnegation. We call them band geeks and nerds and preps and jocks. Or at least, that’s what we called them when I was in school. The terminology may have changed, but the sorting has not. The trials of initiation and indoctrination for these groups can be as grueling as anything Tris has to face at Dauntless, and the penalty for failure to fit in can be just as brutal.

Of course, the difference (and it’s an important one) is that we don’t have to stay factionless. We are allowed to change and evolve and to fall off the train then get up and find a new faction. (Or knit our broken bones and try again to be Dauntless.)

Sorts Of Sorting 

Maybe the fact that we’re not locked into our choices makes sorting more appealing. Who hasn’t taken online personality tests, or sorted themselves (or their friends) into Hogwarts houses? Do you know which faction you would choose? Of course you do.

At Hogwarts, I would be a Gryffindor, though that might just be because I know what answers to tick on the online quiz. In Divergent’s world I would choose Amity, no question. I’m too much of a wimp to be Dauntless, too selfish to be Abnegation, and too nice to be Candor. I was a science major in college (What’s your major? is the college version of What’s your sign?), so I could easily choose Erudite . . . except that they seem like such arrogant jerks. And that’s before they used the Dauntless as their mind-controlled soldiers.

I know who my Star Wars twin is, which captain of the Enterprise I’m most like, and with which incarnation of Doctor Who I would most enjoy traveling. (5)  I also know my friends’ answers because they post them on Tumblr. Sorting al- lows us to declare who we are, and if we’re not quite sure yet, turning the lens inward can give us insight into that question.

In real (that is, non-Doctor-Who-related) psychological terms, I am an Introverted Intuitive type, according to Carl Jung. My highest ratings on the Holland Career Code are Creative, Investigation, and Organization. When I take a test based on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicators, I bounce between an INFJ and an INTP, depending on how I’m feeling that day.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is probably the most popular of these, to the point of being trendy. The MBTI is a matrix of four traits with two options: Extrovert/ Introvert, iNtution/Sensing, Thinking/Feeling, Judging/ Perceiving. (6) Four traits squared means sixteen possible combinations of these type indicators, which gives you sixteen personality types. 

The internet has taken the Myers-Briggs types and run with them. You can find self-tests of every variety, and examples of the sixteen personality types as animals, famous people, Star Wars characters, Star Trek characters, anime characters, Harry Potter characters . . . This latest pop psychology oversimplification has basically turned the MBTI into the new zodiac. (7)

What you begin to notice, once you’ve done a lot of this kind of thing, is that the “sorts” have much in common. There aren’t many one-to-one correlations, but there is a definite tendency for types to fall into groups that you can map onto each other. It’s like human nature can be divided into only so many building blocks, and our psychological variety comes from how you stack them. 

It’s Elemental 

At Tris’ Choosing Ceremony are five bowls, each holding an element that represents a faction’s core philosophy—Stone (Abnegation), Earth (Amity), Glass (Candor), Coals/Fire (Dauntless), and Water (Erudite). In a dramatic declaration of intent, each future initiate cuts his or her hand and literally adds his or her blood to their new family. 

Natural elements have been used by philosophers as part of sorting systems for ages—the Classical Age, the Renaissance, the New Age . . . The idea is that certain elements have certain properties, which are reflected in certain personality types. Long before the Myers-Briggs personality types were being compared to animals, melancholy people were classified as “Earth” and sanguine daredevils were “Fire.”

Different cultures have used different elements, but what’s interesting is how much overlap there is between them. The four classical (Western) elements are Earth, Air, Water, and Fire, with a fifth, Aether, sometimes included as the perfect sum of the others. The five Chinese elements (Earth, Water, Fire, Metal, and Wood) may be different, but the personality traits fall into similar clusters. More to the point, the factions in Divergent line up reasonably well, too—especially when compared to Eastern philosophy. 

Earth

In Chinese philosophy (as in Western philosophy), earth types are steadfast and dependable. They have a strong sense of duty and they make good administrators. They trust their own senses and they like concrete evidence they can put their hands on. Even though Abnegation uses stone to represent their faction in the Choosing Ceremony and Amity uses earth, Abnegation definitely fits the earth type when it comes to the classical elements— rock steady, dependable, selfless. And stone is, after all, part of the earth.

Earth types can sometimes become stagnant rather than just steady, or dull more than dependable. Taken to the extreme, Abnegation can come off as joyless and colorless—as “stiff” as their nickname implies. On the other hand, the faction’s capacity for self-sacrifice for the greater good—like the sacrifices made by many Abnegation leaders, including Tris’ parents, to protect the Edith Prior video—shows the strength of this “grounded” element. 

Fire 

In Chinese astrology, fire types are all about adventure and excitement. Fire is confident, often competitive. (The Western concept of this elemental type emphasizes creativity and innovation, but there’s a similar feeling of “action” to this type.)

Dauntless is the obvious faction match here—since they use fire as their elemental symbol, it’s sort of a no-brainer. Plus, a form of confidence—courage—is Dauntless’ core value. There’s also an impulsiveness associated with fire types, and as Tris’ interactions with the other initiates make pretty clear, the Dauntless always seem to be spoiling for a fight.

Most of all, Dauntless exhibits the two-sided nature of this element. Fire can keep you alive or it can kill you. Dauntless’ initiation and training are physically dangerous, brutal even, with fire’s potential to injure or destroy. Like fire, fear must be controlled, but ignoring fear so to- tally that you no longer exercise reasonable caution can burn you. In other words, the flip side of courage is recklessness. Even the philosophical division within the faction over whether courage means an absence of fear or overcoming it illustrates the dual nature of the fire type. 

Metal

Metal is a Chinese elemental sign without a Western equivalent. Those of this type are tenacious and self-reliant, self-confident, and ordered. Metal types have high expectations, which makes me think of Candor’s scorn for anyone who doesn’t share their determined adherence to the truth. Candor’s specialty is the law, which requires both ordered, logical thinking and confidence in one’s own judgment. Plus, well, Law and Order. Self-reliance must be a necessity when you’re Candor, too, especially since your fellow Candors will not support you if they don’t agree with you. “To thine own self be true” can be a lonely philosophy.

But I think the best reason Candor fits here has to do with Candor’s Choosing Ceremony element. Candor is represented by glass because they say that honesty is transparent. Metal is opaque, obviously, but both are hard, and both, when their edges are honed, can cut. Candor rejects the idea that absolute honesty can sometimes do more harm than good. They even see tact as a lie. (Glass and metal can also both be reflective. I wonder if the Candor would be such tactless jerks if they had to look honestly at themselves all day? (8)) 

Wood

Wood types, which also have no Western corollary, are generous, ethical, selfless, and loyal. Their nature is nurturing and peaceful. One traditional symbol of peace is even a piece of wood—an olive branch. Amity uses earth to represent them in the Choosing Ceremony, but their symbol is the tree. They are farmers, and growing things—nurturing them—is their business. 

Wood types can become inhibited and passive if they’re not careful. Think about it: wood can be so brittle it breaks or so pliant it won’t support any weight. Amity shelters Tris, Four, and other faction refugees, but when push comes to shove, they choose to stay im- partial rather than help fight Erudite. You could view this as strength of principle regarding their commitment to peace, or you could see it as being weak. The Candor say about the Amity faction that “those who seek peace above all else will always deceive to keep the water calm.” Leaving aside the Candor bias, it is true that throughout history people have, in the name of peace, let terrible things happen. (9)

Water

Water is a sign of creativity and intelligence, and water types are philosophers and thinkers. “Deep” thinkers, you might even say. So maybe it’s not a coincidence that Erudite picked that symbol to represent their faction in the Choosing Ceremony. To the Erudite, water represents the clarity of knowledge, but water is also changeable, and can be deceptive. Water is (literally) fluid, changing shape depending on its context. And water is not transparent if it’s deep enough. Anything could be hiding there in its depths: jellyfish, plankton . . . Jaws.

In both Eastern and Western philosophy, water types are sensitive and emotional. That doesn’t sound much like an Erudite principle, but in order to control people (which they definitely know how to do), you have to be sensitive to others’ emotions and how to manipulate them. 

You may have noticed that each of these elemental types is like the Force: it has a dark side and a light side. The Eastern philosophy of Taoism says (in essence) that everything exists in balance. Each of the five elements has a yin and a yang: dark and light, male and female, productive and destructive.

More than that, each element exists—or should exist—in balance with the others, generating and overcoming. Water nourishes Wood; Wood feeds Fire; Fire creates Earth (ash); Earth yields Metal; Metal enriches Water. Each needs the others to exist. Take out one, and the whole system collapses. Without earth, you cannot grow wood; without metal, you cannot plow the earth to plant crops; without water, you cannot water your plants; and without wood, you can’t make a fire and then you’ll freeze to death.

The factions work this way on the societal level: each has a role to play to keep Chicago running. Abnegation administrates. Amity produces food. Candor works in law and arbitrates, mediates, and advises the other factions. Dauntless keeps everyone safe and secure and takes on the high-risk jobs. Erudite are the doctors and scientists that improve life for everyone.

But internally, the factions aren’t balanced at all; they prize one quality at the expense of all others. And an unbalanced system is an unhealthy one, allowing corruption (*ahem*Jeanine*ahem*) to set in.

Any quality, no matter how admirable, becomes a negative when taken to the extreme.

Courage becomes recklessness. 

Pushing someone to their limits becomes bullying.

Honesty becomes rudeness and self-absorption (i.e., my truth is more important than your feelings).

Peace becomes passivity (or passive-aggressiveness).

Self-sacrificing austerity becomes martyrdom and/or a joyless existence.

Erudition becomes valuing knowledge over people. 

Fatal Fictional Flaws 

In fiction, a character’s imbalance of temperament often shows up as a fatal or tragic flaw. In Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Romeo is definitely a Dauntless, judging by his quick-fire changes of affection, his slaying of Juliet’s cousin Tybalt without thinking about her reaction, his taking poison without wondering why Juliet’s body is still warm after two days in a tomb. He fears nothing, even when he should, and he dies pretty much of an excess of emotional impetuosity.

For an example of a tragic flaw that doesn’t end in death and disaster, there’s Prospero, from another Shakespeare play, The Tempest. Even banished to a deserted island, he is an obvious Erudite, arrogant about his books and spells and how learned and artistic he is. If he had been paying more attention to running his country and less to his studies, his brother wouldn’t have been able to steal his kingdom, and Prospero wouldn’t have ended up stranded on that island in the first place (and then there would be no play).

Then there’s Batman. He’s not so bad off as Romeo or Prospero, but he’s not the poster child for self-actualized balance, either. Batman is, in a word, broody. He is melancholic like earth types, weighed down by his sense of duty and the obligation of vengeance. Abnegation seems like an odd faction for a billionaire playboy, but Batman . . . he’s got a tendency toward martyrdom. Bruce Wayne may have a luxurious manor, but that’s just for show. The bat has a cave. If that’s not self-denial, I don’t know what is. 

Contrast that with Superman, who has a much more balanced temperament. He’s got the sense of justice and duty of the Abnegation, the honesty of a Candor, the courage of the Dauntless (I’m sure it helps to be invulnerable to almost everything), the brains of the Erudite (with a little alien technology to help), and even though he’s action oriented, he’s got Amity’s love of peace. Superman doesn’t pick fights, though he certainly will finish them.

Of course, Superman can be all the factions in one. He’s, you know, Superman. He’s the ultimate Divergent. 

Real Heroes Are Divergent 

Let’s now swing back around to our earlier question: “Why do we like books that sort people?” The answer comes down, I think, to a paradox:

  1. Humans like to sort things.
  2. Humans like heroes who defy sorting.

Basically, we like books that put our heroes into boxes so that we can enjoy watching them break out.

I am a complete sucker for the girl-has-to-dress-as-a-boy trope. It doesn’t matter if she’s saving the family farm or avenging her father or rescuing the family’s honor. Disney’s Mulan is a ready example of this. We even get a song early in the movie about how Mulan doesn’t fit the mold of the perfect Chinese daughter. She takes her aged father’s place when one male from each family is drafted into the army, so you know she’s self-sacrificing (Abnegation) and brave (Dauntless). When she gets to training, she’s outclassed— like Tris, she’s had the wrong sort of training for the situation and has to catch up with her peers—so she has to work smarter, not harder (Erudite). Mulan is Divergent. 

A less action-oriented example of an expectations-defying character is Jo March. Almost the first thing we learn about her is that she’s a tomboy and likes to defy convention. She’s the boldest of the four girls in Little Women, so definitely Dauntless. But she’s also a reader and a writer, and she’s very proud of the fact—so she’s got some Erudite tendencies, too. Over the course of the story, she shows examples of all five factions, as she learns about forgiveness, selflessness, peaceful acceptance, and writing a book that is true and honest to her heart. Jo March is Divergent.

Enough literature. Let’s talk about The Avengers. Because not every hero can be everything all on their own. Sometimes heroes need buddies to round them out. 

The Avengers are a heroic team. Their group works because it’s balanced; it includes examples of all five factions in individuals. Tony Stark: Erudite, because obviously. Captain America: Candor, because of truth, justice, and the Ameri- can way. Thor: Amity, because he keeps trying to make peace with Loki and Loki keeps taking advantage of him. (Also, Amity’s symbol at the Choosing Ceremony is Earth, and Thor is a little thick.) The Hulk: Dauntless, because he is all emotion and impulse. (Also, HULK SMASH!) Agent Coulson: Abnegation, of course. He’s the administrative arm of S.H.I.E.L.D., a behind-the-scenes sort of fellow, but most of all, he sacrifices himself for the team. 

Constructing a balanced team isn’t an exact science. The other team members—Black Widow, Hawkeye, and Nick Fury—also go into making the Avengers function. It’s not as simple as “equal parts Amity, Dauntless, etc.” (And you might have a different opinion for which Avenger should represent which faction.) But thanks to the individual talents and strengths of its members, the team as a whole is Divergent. 

Being a part of a balanced team can make the individuals more balanced, too. Over the course of the movie, I think most of the Avengers have to become a little more Divergent. (One of the reasons I like that movie so much is that each character has their own Growth Moment.) Being superheroes, they’re all a bit Dauntless. Bruce Banner has to make peace with his anger so he can control becoming the Hulk. Black Widow is a very different type of Erudite than Tony Stark, being both canny and shifty, but she also has a moment of real self-honesty when she talks about the “red in her ledger.” 

The biggest change, however, comes to Tony Stark, who is arguably (as in, I will make this argument with anyone) the film’s main hero in two ways: 1) even though saving the world takes the whole team, it’s Stark that does That Thing At The End, and 2) in order to do it, he is the character who makes the biggest transformation. 

He starts out a textbook Erudite—too smart for his own good, and smart aleck to go with it. Billionaire genius playboy. He even lives in a tower full of gadgets and tech like the Erudite in Chicago. Throughout the movie, the other Avengers challenge him about his lack of honesty, empathy, and selflessness, and he deflects them with wisecracks. But in the pivotal big bad boss fight, it isn’t being smarter than everyone else that allows him to save the world. It’s being brave and selfless. Iron Man doesn’t start out the film as Divergent, but he ends it that way. 

In Divergent, I don’t think it’s an accident that Tris’ friends and allies at Dauntless are faction transfers— besides the fact that the newbies would stick together. They are a divergent group: Christina is from Candor, Will from Erudite, Tobias/Four from Abnegation. (Amity is under-represented, but as I said before, it’s not an exact science.) 

Tris is identified as Divergent by the aptitude test very early on, but she has to keep it a secret. Obviously, it in- fluences her at the Choosing Ceremony, and she waffles between factions—and symbolically, between the facets of her personality. But she doesn’t really own it until the end of the first book. Still, even before that, it’s when she shows her Divergence that Tris has her most heroic moments. Taking Al’s place in front of the target was an act of bravery, but also of empathy and self-sacrifice. Tris is clever enough to work out what Erudite is really doing with the serums they inject into the Dauntless, and later, to create a plan for getting back into Dauntless headquarters to stop the simulation. She’s also brave enough to enact that plan, but in the process she must also lead Caleb, her father, and Marcus, talking them through the hard parts of jumping from a moving train (onto a roof, no less). That takes empathy, an Abnegation trait, as well as leadership. 

Not that Tris is perfectly Divergent. There’s not much of Amity in her. She is not big on peace or forgiveness. Honesty isn’t her strongest virtue, either. And while she is very smart, Tris acknowledges the Abnegation part of herself more than she does the Erudite. 

However, in the climactic confrontation with the simulation-controlled Tobias, it really is all three of her Divergent aspects that allow her to save him, and herself: cleverness to come up with an action drastic enough to reach him, self-sacrifice to put the gun into his hand, and a hell of a lot of bravery to trust her plan would work. 

Divergence In Action 

In Allegiant, the whole faction rug gets ripped out from un- der us. Instead of factions, our heroes are struggling with questions of individual identity. But never has being Divergent been more important. Not because of genetic purity or superperson status, but because the old paradigm has been erased, and being just one thing is no longer an option. Decisions and alliances are no longer confined to what a faction demands. That can be overwhelming if you’re used to a limited number of choices.

But the Divergent have always—at least privately— had more choices, because their Divergence allows them to adapt. A Divergent hero can weigh her options. She can use brains or brawn, be honest or be crafty, compromise for peace or stick to her guns.

After the revelations in Allegiant, it’s worth pointing out that Divergence is not merely a genetic factor. Tris might be Divergent in biology, but Tobias is Divergent in action. The five faction symbols tattooed on his back show he understands the need for balance between the factions and their guiding principles. All through the series he doesn’t just evidence bravery or selflessness. He demonstrates intelligence and kindness. He learns honesty and peace.

Divergence, whether it’s in your genes, your upbringing, or the process of learning, is what allows you to make individual choices. It allows for bravery, honesty, reconciliation, wisdom, and sacrifice whenever each, or all, are necessary.

Over our lifetimes, we choose factions over and over again. We leave one behind and choose another. We have the freedom of concentric or overlapping circles of friends and family. We don’t have to pick one path, one trait, one ideal, and close our minds to all others. We can be Divergent. And we definitely should. 

Notes

  1. I am taking my life in my hands to make this joke. No one who has seen what happens when you poke a badger would ever underestimate a Hufflepuff—a perfect example of the dangers of labels and stereotypes.
  2. My aforementioned BFF is one of the most moral people I know, but back in our tabletop-role-playing-game days, she loved playing the evil-genius characters. And she was frighteningly good at it.
  3. This practice is still in use as an alternative medicine.
  4.   4 Pretty much anything that was wrong with you required a surgeon to drain off some of your blood to get rid of the excess bile or phlegm or whatever was making you ill. And even after science had disproven the idea of humors, all the way to the mid-1800s, bloodletting was a common treatment for just about everything from fever to upset stomach, and particularly for psychological problems. 
  5. I was going to say, “It’s all in fun!” and then I remembered how serious people get about their favorite Doctor.
  6. If you want to learn more about these traits, a Google search will turn up plenty.
  7. Types are based on personality rather than the unchangeable factor of your birthdate, obviously. Still, this is probably not what Ms. Briggs and Ms. Myers had in mind. 
  8. I admit some bias here. I had a friend who was totally Candor— talented, funny, wickedly smart, and brutally honest. She truly believed that if someone was hurt by her opinion, it was because they were too sensitive. To be fair, she would have called me an Amity wimp who would rather keep the peace than be completely honest. And she wouldn’t have been entirely wrong. So it’s all a matter of degrees. 
  9. There’s a pretty dead-on real-world example of this in Neville Chamberlain, the British prime minister in the 1930s. In order to preserve peace, he allowed Hitler’s Germany to stomp over a good part of Europe until it became clear that Adolph wasn’t going to stop unless someone made him. 

Want more like From Factions to Fire Signs? Order your copy of Divergent Thinking.

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