This thesis explores issues of gender and sexuality in young adult dystopian literature, focusing on the Divergent series. I review the plot of the trilogy and provide a brief overview of the significance of young adult literature in American society. I then discuss ways in which the series encourages perspectives about young women that subvert traditional American gender roles, from the social groups that exist in this particular dystopian universe to the way in which female characters hold their own in physical altercations. Then, I examine the parts of the story that reaffirm traditional femininity, such as the emphasis on Tris’ small size and compulsory heterosexual relationships. Finally, I conclude that while aspects of this series and other young adult dystopian stories may provide transgressive female role models for young readers, these literary women must return to a traditionally feminine role when the dystopian setting is resolved, enforcing traditional gender roles in our non-dystopian reality.

First Advisor

Alison Tracy Hale

Date of Completion

Spring 2014

Degree Type