Analysis Of Conflicts In The Chrysalids By John Wyndham
Intolerance and deterioration of society can be prominently seen in today’s era due to one’s inability to accept another. As Mahatma Gandhi states “Intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit.” Similarly, The Chrysalids, written by John Wyndham is a novel set in a post-nuclear era that shows how intolerance is unproductive and destructive to a society using various different types of conflicts. Firstly, a person vs. person conflict is noticed as a result of disrespect between society members. Secondly, person vs. society conflicts are shown when society members do not accept certain individuals. Lastly, forms of person vs. self conflicts are also shown when characters start to doubt themselves. In The Chrysalids, John Wyndham supports the theme of how intolerance of the differences in other people is unproductive and harmful to a society. One of the many conflicts seen in this novel is the person vs. person conflict. The conflict between David Strorm and the Inspector proves that the inspections could go to any length of intolerance and this can be very harmful to a society. The Inspector is furious that David concealed Sophie’s blasphemy, he states, “People go to prison for it… It is everybody’s duty to report any kind of offence to me…”. Therefore, they are very strict about the concealment of blasphemies and they will do anything to prevent them even if it means harming their own society members. Secondly, the conflict between Sophie Wender and Alan Ervin also reflects that the society will not function effectively if the society members do not get along with each other. When Alan spots Sophie’s sixth toe, they get into a fight and Sophie says, “I hit him… Do you think he’s dead?”. Thus, the members of Waknuk are willing to fight and perhaps kill one another to prevent deviation; this could ultimately lead to a very violent society.
Therefore, these are the ways in which person vs. person conflict supports how intolerance can lead to a harmful society. A person/group vs. society conflict is also visible in this novel. The conflict between Aunt Harriet and the society shows that if the society members don’t help each one another, the society cannot be productive. When Aunt Harriet has a deviant baby, she goes to her sister for help, “You are my sister, Emily my sister, and the only person in the world who can help me keep my baby.” If her own members of Waknuk, even her own sister, is not willing to accept the baby’s differences, they will not be able to work together productively as nobody accepts one another for who they are. The conflict between the think-talkers and the rest of the society is another conflict that proves that because they are different from the others, they must escape so that they are not harmed. When it comes time for them to escape, Rosalind commands, “We must get away at once-just as soon as we can.” Hence, the group had to escape from their own society so that the people of their communities would not harm them. Both examples of person/group vs. society show how if the members of society are intolerant to others’ differences, it will lead to an uncooperative and unproductive community. The person vs. self conflicts in this novel is another aspect that can lead to a diffident and self-doubting society.
David feels remorse for telling the Inspector where Sophie was because he knows her and her family will be punished by the people of the Waknuk. After David was punished by the Inspector and his father he says, “… it was bitterness, self-contempt and abasement.” David says the pain doesn’t hurt anymore. He is emotionally hurt but no one in the society does anything to try and help him. This confirms that the society doesn’t really care for its members; resulting in a society that cannot collaborate with each other. Furthermore, Rosalind has to unwillingly kill a man out of the fear of her own community finding them and hurting them. After she kills him she says to David, “…Oh I didn’t want to do it David, but what else could I do…?”. Due to this incident, Rosalind feels great remorse even though there was no choice left for her. This justifies that person vs. self conflicts in the book can lead to a dangerous society as circumstances such as these can force people to do things they would not like to do. In conclusion, the examples of person vs. person conflict, person vs. society, conflict and person vs. self conflict in The Chrysalids are used by John Wyndham to show how intolerance of the differences in other people is harmful and unproductive to a society. Person vs. person conflict is a large conflict that is noticed when certain characters are intolerant towards one another. Another major conflict is the person vs. society conflict which is shown when certain individuals are discriminated against from the rest of the society. Lastly, person vs. self conflict is another crucial conflict that is seen when characters feel self-contempt and begin to doubt themselves. If the society was more tolerant towards one another and accepted everyone for who they were, they would have been more successful as a community.
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