• Thu, Mar 20 - 10:36 am ET

It’s Time To Talk About How Many Times Four Literally Touches Tris’ Face In Divergent

tris touches fours face in divergent movie

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Even though Divergent hits theaters tomorrow, there are still discussions to be had about Divergent the book by Veronica Roth. There’s a lot to talk about, ranging from the faction system to the unsettling moments of violence, but one thing continues to weigh on my mind more than any other: how much Four touches Tris’ face. Yes, the above GIF is misleading in this regard, but bear with me.

See, I know Four just loves the feel of Tris’ face skin because I started taking note of every time it happened while reading. Whether going in for a kiss or just having a conversation, his hand was like a magnet straight to her face. I actually texted my friend after reading to ask if face touching was a thing that everyone except me had been doing. Never once has my boyfriend touched my face, but perhaps it is because I don’t have a Shailene Woodley face. In any case, #FOMO.

Quick sidebar: if you and your partner are into the touching of faces when interacting, go for it! To each their own! My big problem is that when I read something along the lines of “person X touched person Y’s face,” here is the exact type of behavior I start to picture no matter the context:

jennifer lawrence touches josh hutcherson's face

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First of all, yes, I intentionally used a Hunger Games related GIF because there’s a time and a place to talk about the overlap in YA book series. Second of all, do you see how sentences about face touching can be a very distracting thing to read over and over again when this is the kind of image that jumps in your mind? Obviously it’s not a mental image particularly in sync with the pair’s budding romance.

In case this didn’t stand out to you as a reader, come take a walk in my shoes and relive a selection of moments I’ve curated where Four partakes in his favorite pastime.

“For a second his dark eyes are on mine, and he’s quiet. Then he touches my face and leans in close, brushing my lips with his.” -Chapter 26

While not the first face touch I found in the book, let’s begin here to prove I’m not a monster. I get that this can be a romantic gesture of closeness. In fact, here I was caught up in the excitement of the first kiss that the face touch went unnoticed. However, numerous kisses after #1 seemed to involve a face touch just shoehorned into the moment like a how-to manual. Maybe they were magnetic robots after all.

“‘Are you all right?’ A crease appears between his eyebrows, and he touches my cheek gently. I bat his hand away.” -Chapter 28

Even Tris is like, “Dude, can we just talk without you constantly touching my face?” I’m ready to rest my case! Just kidding. It is still early in our journey.

“He presses his palms to my face, his index fingers sliding behind my ears, and pulls my mouth to his.” -Chapter 28

Maybe it’s the word “pressed, but does that not make you think of squishing together someone’s cheeks so their mouth morphs into that fishy kiss look? That seems uncomfortable. And then, just one paperback page later…

“He touches my cheek. ‘I hate to say this,’ he says, ‘but we have to get up now.’” -Chapter 28

What if in the Divergent world, the announcement of all mundane, daily activities must be prefaced with hand meeting face? Is that so far-fetched in a dystopia? I am more nervous about this kind of future than one that requires faction selection (Amity, duh).

“He sets me down and stares at me, his fingers brushing over my forehead, my eyebrows, my cheeks, my lips.” -Chapter 39

Maybe I am the worst because society is crumbling around them and he is reacting to them having both just endured a very traumatic moment together, but all I could envision was him just like aimlessly wandering his fingers around her face while she just stands there. I guess all his previous face touching left me jaded. Like I said, I’m terrible. But unfortunately, this isn’t the only time that the book’s face touch preoccupation completely took me out of what should have been a very serious moment. It felt like a disservice to the characters, but perhaps I only have myself to blame.

There are  more examples in the text, but I’ll let you discover them for yourself and keep the printed book alive and well. For those of you never planning on reading it, I must warn you that despite my keen eye finding these moments in the book, Four touching Tris’s face actually doesn’t happen all that often in the film version. However, you can see movie Tris kind of stick her fingers in movie Four’s mouth, which didn’t seem to make it’s way in the book… but that is a post for another day.

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  • CMJ

    So, to continue my tangent from yesterday (because I am too distracted by March Madness today), this is a HUGE thing in YA. There is so much face touching in all these books I’m surprised all the characters don’t have chronic acne problems.

    • Meg Malone

      I wash my hands all the time, but I still would feel bad putting them in someone’s face for fear of what grime I may spread to them! I’m trying to think if I’ve really ever picked up on this in other YA books I’ve read, but I think it really stood out to me in “Divergent” because the face touching started to play very “checklist for interacting characters to follow” for me, which got distracting. However, even though I poke fun at stuff like this, I still really do love the YA genre.

  • http://maitribathbody.com/ Maitri

    My guess is that because there isn’t any sex, at least in book 1 (isn’t there a vague sex scene in book 3? I haven’t finished it, I got bored), the face touching is an effort at having physical intimacy be present between the two.

    • Meg Malone

      I did try to think about author intent here, but I guess where my
      face touching confusion arose was that they do display other physical
      affection in a number of ways throughout the book – hand holding,
      kissing, cuddling, hugging – that I think was also intended to convey
      their closeness. Considering my interpretation of face touching as
      described above (aka basically awkward face palming), it just seemed so
      jarring when repeatedly thrown in among all these other close
      interactions between them (that I feel like my brain can process
      normally) that it had the opposite effect for me in terms of getting an
      understanding of their coupledom.

      (P.S. I also did not fully finish the third book.)

  • Sri

    One of my students came in today, after binge reading the first book since Tuesday, looked at me and said, “Can we talk about the face touching? Is that something people do when they kiss? Do I have to be worried that I’m not touching girls’ faces enough when I kiss them?” Bless his little 12 year old heart. Like puberty wasn’t awkward enough without worrying about the exact right amount to touch a girl’s face.

    • Meg Malone

      Seriously, the face touching made me over-think so much as a 23 year old reader, that I can’t even imagine my middle school self trying to process it.

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  • Cmh

    The face touching in the book didn’t bother me….but tris sticking her thumb in his mouth the entire movie kinda did. I even pointed it out to my friend, so of course when it happened after the fight scene we both laughed in the middle of the theater.