Hi! I'm a huge fan of the Divergent trilogy and I was just wondering how exactly Tobias looked like, I mean, what race? Because there are these opinions floating around that Tobias's race was never mentioned so he might be dark-skinned? Is he, though?

- Asked by cafewednesdays

This is an interesting question that I have been asked a lot lately, so I’m going to babble about it for awhile.

One of the reasons this answer has become so complicated for me is this very interesting project that I’ve spent a lot of time looking at lately: http://humanae.tumblr.com/. After you look at it for awhile, skin color doesn’t seem so easy to attach to race. Or easy to define at all.

Here is how Evelyn, Tobias’s mother, is described: “She has curly black hair and olive skin. Her features are stern, so angular they almost make her unattractive, but not quite. …At that moment I realize that he and the woman have the same nose— hooked, a little too big on her face but the right size on his. They also have the same strong jaw, distinct chin, spare upper lip, stick-out ears. Only her eyes are different— instead of blue, they are so dark they look black.”

Evelyn is a POC. I don’t know if Marcus’s skin tone is ever described, but I have always pictured him as white and it seems likely, given that he has blue eyes. (Which is not necessarily a given, with blue eyes, but it’s more common.)

Tobias is described as having his mother’s facial features, but Tris doesn’t notice that until she meets Evelyn. Instead, she notes that Tobias is similar to his father (somewhere— I can’t find it right now), or at least familiar, and in Insurgent Caleb and Tobias have this exchange:

-“Does everyone know you’re Marcus’s son? The Abnegation, I mean?”

-“Not to my knowledge. And I would appreciate it if you didn’t mention it.”

-“I don’t need to mention it. Anyone with eyes can see it for themselves.”

It’s important to me that Tobias look like both of his parents, because his parents are both important people, and I wanted people to be able to see the combination of both parents in his face. Since Tobias’s features are described as being VERY close to his mother’s, I always envisioned his coloring as being close to his father’s, which is why Caleb thinks that people will know Tobias and Marcus are related just by looking at them.

So my highly convoluted answer to your question is: Tobias is mixed race, and while that doesn’t mean he’s as pale as Marcus, it does mean he’s closer to Marcus than Evelyn, in terms of skin color (since she’s decidedly in the middle of the spectrum).

The truth is, I often wish that I had chosen to have a darker-skinned main character in the books (so, either Tobias or Tris), but I wasn’t aware of my own racial “default setting” when I wrote Divergent, or of the severe lack of diversity in YA main characters. I have since become aware and I intend to change things up in the future. But all I can do now is work with what I set up in the first two books, which is why I spent all this time analyzing it for you.

567 Notes

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    And guess who got cast as Evelyn… a white actress! Nailed it.
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    I suddenly like Veronica Roth so much more.
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