Divergent trilogy names
So, I recently finished reading the Divergent trilogy (late to the game, I know), and given our recent discussion here about naming problems in fiction, I thought this would be an appropriate place for a rant :) The world-building as a whole is actually hugely problematic, especially once everything starts to get explained in the third book, but I'll try to stick to the naming issues here.
So, for those who haven't read it (I'll avoid any major spoilers), this dystopian society is divided up into five factions, each of which is based on a single personality trait. The culture of the factions heavily encourages the development of that trait, to the exclusion of all others.
Because parents generally choose names that reflect their values, one would expect these factions to all have very distinctive naming patterns that reflect the traits they're trying to encourage. The novels even hint that there are some kind of patterns to the naming--the narrator mentions at one point that Edith is an Abnegation name, and at another point that Joshua is not an Abnegation name. But I couldn't identify any rhyme or reason for the name choices.
Some examples of character names and the factions they were born into:
Abnegation (the selfless do-gooders): Beatrice, Caleb, Tobias, Susan, Robert, Marcus
Dauntless (the brave adrenaline junkies): Uriah, Zeke (Ezekiel), Marlene, Lynn, Shauna
Candor (honest to the point of having no filter): Christina, Peter, Molly, Drew, Al
Erudite (the intellectual snobs): Cara, Will, Edward, Myra, Jeanine
Amity (the peace-loving hippies): I'm actually not sure we ever get a name for someone born into Amity, only transfers
Does anyone else see any patterns that I'm missing?
If I could re-do the naming for this series, here's what I would do:
Abnegation: Naming is about expressing individuality and personal style, and the Abnegation believe that individuality and personal style are selfish, so I imagine that Abnegation would have a very short, strict list of acceptable names for children, all of which are very traditional and non-distinctive. Probably about 75% of the men would be named John. We might also see James, George and Richard, and the women would be things like Sarah, Elizabeth and Mary. I actually think that Beatrice, Susan and Robert are good choices here. If Abnegation were the only faction using Old Testament names that might work ok, because I associate Old Testament names with a kind of religious austerity that fits the faction, but we see Uriah and Ezekiel in Dauntless, so it doesn't work for me as executed.
Dauntless: These people would be using names straight out of the recent Troublemakers Trend blog post: Maverick, Rogue, Wolf, Cannon, Rebel, etc. Max should really have been Maxx. I can see them going hard for names with high Scrabble-value letters like Zora or Tarquin, and for creative spellings. I can also see a lot of boys' names and surnames on girls--one of the Dauntless-born female characters at one point mentions that she shaved her head so she would be taken more seriously in initiation, so I imagine that the disdain for femininity and anything soft or delicate would extend into the naming realm, too.
Candor: This is the one that I find the most difficult--I can't really pin down what kind of naming style would emphasize honesty, other than a handful of names with related meanings: Vera, Verity, the light and white names--Clare, Phoebe, Gwendolen, etc. Anyone else have any ideas here?
Erudite: They would choose obscure or esoteric names that emphasize their learning, or names that pay homage to great thinkers. I would probably draw mostly upon some of the more unusual Greek and Latin names like Eurydice, Sophronia, Agamemnon, Marcus Aurelius, Aristotle, Bellerophon, Polyhymnia, Clytemnestra.
Amity: Lots of nature and virtue names here—Lily, Rose, Daisy, River, Indigo, Linden, Faith, Patience, Joy, Constant.
I also think that people who switch factions would likely want to adopt new names that fit in better with their new factions--in fact, I imagine that the new factions might require it, since they're so adamant that people give up their old lives. But the only people who are mentioned as going by different names are the two leads--Beatrice decides to go by Tris in Dauntless, and the male lead goes by the nickname Four which was given to him by his initiation instructor.
Does anyone have any other thoughts or ideas for names that would better suit the various factions? No need to have read the books to play :)
Mon, 10/06/2014 - 1:56pm