The Image of God and Deviation in The Chrysalids
In the community of Waknuk, the image of God is an important part of the formation of society. The novel The Chrysalids by John Wyndham is about a group defying the rule of society-image of God as believed by the Waknukian leader. If a person or an object does not fit the definition of God, they are faced with many problems such as death. The novel also discusses and represents issues like the loss of trust the people of Waknuk experience that a person that they know is a Deviant- a creation of the devil. In the novel the Chrysalids, Sophie, Aunt Harriet, as well as Anne all face different problems in relation to not fitting the definition of man.
Starting off, Sophie having six toes makes it very difficult for her to live in a society where being different makes it dangerous to even go outside. In the beginning of the novel when David meets Sophie she is scared to take off her shoe when her foot is stuck in between two rocks as she believes that David will report her to the officials. Soon after this incident at Sophie’s house, David agrees to keep Sophie’s secret. The secret is kept safe for many days until one day, Alan comes upon David and Sophie WHO are playing in the water. After, Sophie’s father finds out that Alan knows Sophie has six toes, he decides that they will move away from the community to keep Sophie safe, “[He’s] afraid its’s come, my dear. This is it” (Wyndham 45). This decision makes both Sophie as well as her mother grieve because they know they can not stay otherwise they would be killed but they also know Deviants are not accepted as a child of God. Sophie being the sweet girl that she is, she is not considered a child of God, her fate has been altered because when the people from the community of Waknuk sterilized her and sent her to the Fringes. In the Fringes we learn that Sophie is unable to bear a child. Consequently, because Sophie is different, she faces many problems which puts her in conflicts with society as well as herself.
Continuing on, Aunt Harriet, was betrayed by David’s mother – Emily did not help Aunt her nor her Deviant baby because of the strict image of God’s view that the community believes in. The trust that is broken between Aunt Harriet and the Strorm’s show the consequence of giving birth to a deviant. In the novel Aunt Harriet comes to David’s house after the birth of David’s sister-Petra. She asks her sister if she can borrow Petra for the inspection as her child has a blemish on her body. However, Joseph and Emily send Aunt Harriet away. Joseph continues to yell at Aunt Harriet and says, “Shame on you woman! Now go! Go home in humility, not defiance. Notify your child, according to law. Then do your penances that you may be cleansed. And pray. You have much to pray for” (72). Emily being the only that Aunt Harriet she really trusts turns her away because she has conceived a child not in the image of God. This quote shows how quickly people in the community of Waknuk lost trust because of anything that goes against the image of God. Further on in the story, we learn that Aunt Harriet as well as her baby are found dead near the river. Their deaths show disloyalty and dishonesty the community of Waknuk has towards the Deviants that are living amongst the “norm”. In effect of Aunt Harriet having so much trust for her family especially Emily, she was quickly betrayed because she gave birth to a Deviant child.
Lastly, Anne is affected by the norms of society which makes Anne then becomes in pursuit of a happy life. Anne always wanted to have a normal life, this led her to marry Alan her love. Anne even stopped communicating with the group in the pursuit to be normal. Continuing with the novel Alan is murdered by Uncle A because he is afraid to that Alan is going to report the group to the officials. As a result of Alan’s death, Anne commits suicide writing a letter stating, “It denounced [the entire thought shape group], including Rachel herself, and even Petra. It accused us collectively of planning Alan’s murder and one unspecified, of carrying it over” (102). This shows that Anne is unable to deal with the fact that she is considered a Deviant. The manner in which Anne chooses to deal with this fact shows she is arrogant. After falling in love with Alan she becomes obsessed with trying to fit into the normal society. This also leads her to move away very quickly. When Alan is murdered and she blames the group for the murder in the letter that she wrote showing that she betrayed he own “kind” to hide the fact that she was not normal in the Waknuk society.
In conclusion, money of the people living the society deal differently because of the rule of society proclaimed by many as the image of God. Each individual character faces internal conflict as well as conflict with the society. The major characters that stood out that have their lived changed after doing with fact they are not normal are Sophie, Aunt Harriet, and Anne. Sophie having six toes, she is sterilized and sent to the Fringes as a punishment for not being normal. Aunt Harriet was betrayed by her family for giving birth to a Deviant. And Anne betrayed the group she was part of just to fit into society they live in. In the community of Waknuk, the image of God is taken very seriously which then impacts many people living in this society.
Two Different Communities, Waknuk and Fringes, in The Chrysalids
“The Chrysalids” is a novel written by a famous post-apocalyptic genre writer, John Wyndham. This novel focuses on the life and hardships of the protagonist, David Strorm. Throughout the novel, we the readers were introduced into two ends of civilization; the religious city of Waknuk and a deviation-filled Fringes. Both two civilizations have had impacted our main protagonist’s life and choices.
The novel first introduced the readers to David’s hometown, Waknuk. At first Waknuk wasn’t Waknuk. It was a small community created by David’s grandfather, Elias Strorm who has motivated from his hate towards the “East’s ungodly way of life”. Elias was determined to make a new, simple, and small community based on a religion; laws based on the Bible and Nicholson’s Repentances. Soon more people came to settle in the small community.” The place may have been called Waknuk then; anyway, Waknuk it had become; an orderly, law-abiding, God-respecting community of some hundred scattered holdings, large and small” (Wyndham, 17). David is the son of Joseph Strorm, a religious figure in their community. Due to the fact that David is a child of a religious man, he had the sayings of “Repentance” implanted to him at a young age; such sayings are “ONLY THE IMAGE OF GOD IS MAN” (18),” The norm is the Image of God” (27) and most importantly; “WATCH THOU FOR THE MUTANT!” (18). These affected David’s way of thinking, for example, when he met a prisoner from the Fringes. “My first encounter with someone from the Fringes had not, after all, been exciting; but it had been unpleasantly disturbing” (35). In addition, Waknuk follows a tradition of sterilizing and exiling anyone with deviations, and when David suspected that he might be in danger, he knew that his father might not only resort on him being an exile but into killing his very own child.
The Fringes, on the other hand, is a small tribe known to be a lawless land and a subject for uncontrolled mutation. This is also where people who were exiled due to deviation live. “The people of the Fringes- at least one calls them people” (20). The Fringes has no stable source of food that led them into violence, for instance, raiding Waknuk. “These people, then, had very little where they lived in their border country, so they came out into civilized parts to steal…” (20) which consequently became frequent and harsher.”…and after a time it was no longer just a matter of a dozed or so making a quick raid and then running back into Fringes country; they came instead in large, organized bands and did a lot of damage”(20). Moreover, The Fringes is brimming with hate and resentment towards Waknuk due to being exiled and forced into living a difficult life of everyday-violence. Furthermore, due to Waknuk’s teachings about God and the “True Image of God.” As said by the leader of Fringes, Gordon Strorm,” They try; they think they do… but they heatedly determined to keep the Old People’s standards… how do they know that their fruits and vegetables are just the same…doesn’t it nearly always turn out that the breed with the higher yield is accepted in the end?”(154). Upon knowing the Fringes’s way of view, David soon learned that what he learned maybe somewhat biased and wrong.
Even though these two communities had shown clear signs of hate to each other because of their extreme ideologies which had left their connections severely wounded, they still have similarities among each other. Waknukians have been taught that deviations are bad, therefore the Fringes people are bad, and its a word of the demon to mock the God. As said by Joseph Strorm, “The Devil struts his wide estates, and the laws of God are mocked.” (20). On the other hand, the Fringes view his sayings as a whole different thing. During David’s argument to Gordon Strorm, Gordon responded by saying, “That’s what they tell you over there. Tisn’t so, boy. It’s your parts where the old Devil’s hanging on and looking after his own. Arrogant, they are. The true image, and all that… Want to be like the Old People. Tribulation hasn’t taught ‘em a thing…” (153) and went on and added, “something is going to steady down out of all this. It’ll be new, and new kinds of plants mean new creatures. Tribulation was a shake-up to give us a new start” (154). What’s more is the resentment among the leaders, Joseph and Gordon. Gordon decided not to kill David and use him as a captive to wage a war against the Waknukians that led them into an all-out war against Joseph’s army. As the Zealand woman said,” Your work is to survive. Neither his kind, nor his kind of thinking will survive long. They are the crown of creation, that they should expect to remain unchanged? The living form defies evolution at its peril; it does not adapt, it will be broken…” (182). In addition, the Zealand woman confirmed that everything is a part of change, nothing will ever be the same, life is a cycle of evolution.” “Sometime there will come a day when we ourselves shall have to give place to a new thing. Very certainly we shall struggle against the inevitable just as these remnants of the Old People do. We shall try with all our strength to grind it back into the earth from which it is emerging, for treachery to one’s own species must always seem a crime. We shall force it to prove itself, and when it does, we shall go; as, by the same process, these are going.” (195).
In conclusion, after learning the stories of the two different communities and words form the Zealand woman, David learned that the only reason of hate among these two different communities was self- deception, and arrogance against each other.
Blasphemous Dehumanization in The Chrysalids by John Wyndham and The Island by Laurie MacDonald
The process of dehumanization greatly impacted two completely corrupt worlds driven by the inhumane ways of treating their people and embedding such morals into their societies; sculpting an ultimate dystopia. The similarities between the book ‘The Chrysalids’ by John Wyndham and the movie ‘The Island’ produced by Laurie MacDonald, both illustrated the topic of human differentiation influenced by the small flaws and imperfections, that the society did not accept into their category of perfection. The relevance of dehumanization in both works were revealed by the immoral gestures of calling their blasphemous citizens soulless, banning them of procreating through sterilization and examining them for abnormalities before identity gain; fully degrading them of their basic human rights.
In a perfect world, the miniscule differences people inhabit do not seem to cross minds often. However, ‘The Chrysalids’ and ‘The Island,’ showed immense hatred towards people of different nature, to the point of placing these people into the category of obtaining no human soul. An event in ‘The Chrysalids’ which exampled this was a time when the inspector was explaining why the deviated were not accepted. He went on to say that “every part of the definition is as important as any other; and if a child doesn’t come with it, then it isn’t human, and that means it doesn’t have a soul” (Wyndham 55). Their strong beliefs of perfect God-sent humans altered the perception they held against those who did not fit the standards, as the Inspector was saying how anyone who does not come as ideal as they should, they are soulless and have no means to the world. Very similarly, ‘The Island’ portrayed the opinion of the different being soulless through a scene in which Dr.Merrick explains that ” they’re simply tools, instruments. They have no souls”(Macdonald). Talking about the people of the clone headquarters being nothing but tools that are the generations newest success. These two points in both works relate a lot to each other and to the topic of dehumanization as they discussed how someone else’s minority completely striped their soul away, and immediately made them non-human. They related back to the outrageous morals that both works stood by and revolved around, taking away a person’s inner self solely for something that was out of their control, like a small birthmark or a different way they were made. This way of thinking showed many people being degraded in the two works and their feelings of hopelessness due to an imperfection that led them to be hollowed out from a soul.
Ultimately, a human’s prime job is to continue on giving life and flourishing the ongoing generations with offspring, and when taken away it deprives them from their natural human instincts of reproduction. Despite that, the two works did not have the same perception on whether or not all humans should be granted such opportunity to pass down their genes further and further down centuries. The Waknuk society in ‘The Chrysalids’ send out the deviated to an area called the Fringes, where they store everyone who is not made perfectly by God. When entering this area, the women are automatically sterilized and forbidden to spread their deviations amongst the growing population. The fear of allowing deviations to flow through bloodlines circulated past the minds of the Waknukians, making them for any plan that ensured the risk of mutations got lower and lower. A farm keeper named Old Jacob confirmed this by saying that “a woman who bore a child that wasn’t in the image was whipped for it. If she bore three out of the image she was uncertified, outlawed, and sold”(Wyndham 88), referencing not only deviated women were stripped from fertility but anyone who produced three mutatious kids. These actions were alike to how the cloned people were made in ‘The Island,’ having no knowledge even of reproduction as well as the ability to do so. Those who controlled the incubation centre did not want the clones to begin creating offspring as they believed they were not humans in the slightest. For those reasons and beliefs, the clones did not have the option or say in procreating with each other, which degraded their roles as human beings regardless cloned or not. Both the book and the movie incorporated sterilization as a way to portray the topic of dehumanization because it demonstrated how the entire human purpose was taken away from them due to the fearfulness of not producing the perfect race. The deprivation forever stuck with those who got sterilized, as they knew their bodily functions of creating life had been stolen and kept from them, all over one flaw.
The knowledge of everyone’s differences are what make them unique and their own person are words being taught to the current society, but the dystopias live by the polar opposite. The obsession of curating a flawless race led both worlds to invasive examinations before any identity status was allowed to be given. ‘The Chrysalids”s community had very stern rules about welcoming new infants into families, they went incognito until an examination was done by an inspector, verifying if the child can be identified as a human or soulless and nonhuman. The extensive dedication they had towards their beliefs lead the Inspector to also say “Sometimes he is clever enough to make a nearly-perfect imitation, So we have always to be on the look-out for the mistake he has made, however small, and when we see one it must be reported at once”(Wyndham 55) about why such a strong requirement there was for the examination in their society. Identically, in ‘The Island,’ the creators of the clones go through the same process of reviving their growing clones and inspecting them before they were allowed to be registered into their system. These two events are very similar to each other and towards the topic of dehumanization as they display how flaws affect the humanness of someone before confirming there are none. It dispossess them of life and freedom as they were sent and closed off if the true image was not met. The comparison between the two works shows how in either dystopias, the true image inevitably needed to be met always, as their beliefs were stronger than their moral aspect telling them it was the wrongdoing to categorize based off a topical blasphemy visible to the eye. The personal invasion taken by the authorities in both works, painted the visual as to how serious their faiths were tied to the idea of needing to inspect other beings to confirm or deny them of humanly status over a biased opinion for the definition of perfect.
The significance of the theme of dehumanization in both ‘The Chrysalids’ and ‘The Island,’ were shown throughout events like invalidating people’s inner selves, not allowing them to create offspring and require mandatory inspection before human identity was granted; depriving them from many human freedoms and rights. The intense classification placed upon blasphemic people in calling them soulless had a toll on how they felt as people inside, wanting to be accepted for who they are instead of being known as devil-sent. The sterilization of those who made or were different themselves fully took away the liveliness in the people, as that one hope of giving someone the gift of life was unrightfully taken away from them for impurities that did not meet the true image wanted. Putting the people under examination to decide whether or not they would classify as human, added the doubts and fears of survival as an abnormality as well as the degradation over powerless factors onto those who were undergoing the tests in both works. The irrational moral standards of the authorities left the innocent struggling over the validation of the person they wish to live as, not the person they have been set to be.
The Chrysalids: Realism Towards Postmodern Societies
World War Two was an occurrence that caused over a dozen societies to discriminate and prejudice others. Their fear and disbeliefs of others ultimately lead to conflict and minor-wars. John Wyndham was knowledgeable about society’s feelings towards others. His aim was to give the reader a surreal feeling of postmodernism in The Chrysalids. Postmodernism is express as a form of literature, which is marked ideologically and stylistically. Literary conventions as often unrealistic plots, parody, paranoia and dark humour. John Wyndham writes The Chrysalids as a warning to today’s society. Discrimination and racism are found throughout the novel and is a correlation to present society. David’s actions are done due to Waknuk’s religious laws, which could be a warning to our society if we do not include everyone in our society. A chrysalid is expressed as a protective covering, state of being or growth. Therefore, The Chrysalids novel is a direct symbolic of David’s coming of age and growth. David’s conflict in his early childhood, his enlightenment and his decision to leave Waknuk for his safety all contribute to the fact that David is a dynamic character.
David’s conflict in his early childhood was a factor that leads David to become a dynamic character. One occurrence that causes conflict to David is Uncle Axel’s opinion and criticism on Wanknuk’s definition of a perfect human. Uncle Axel’s criticism can be found on page 79 stating, “They might begin to think to themselves: ‘What are we doing? What are the Old People really like? What was it they did to bring this frightful disaster down upon themselves and all the world” (Wyndham 79).
David’s parents have always been severely strict about following their society. One day, David was hoping for a third hand. Unsurprisingly he got yelled at for it. Uncle Axel’s approaches on the Old People changes David’s view on the Waknuk Society. Uncle Axel even admits that the “definition of a perfect human” is not correct. Nicholas Repentance was written after the tribulation so it was thought to be mostly made up.
Another occurrence that caused conflict in David’s early childhood was Sophie’s sixth toe discovery and the conflict she had between society and herself. Sophie’s extra toe goes against Waknuk’s society. While David and Sophie were catching shrimp, Alan happened to stumble upon them. What Alan saw next opened a whole new perspective for Sophie. This is evident on page 44, stating, “He broke off suddenly. I looked up and saw that he was staring down at something beside me. I turned quickly. On the flat rock was a footprint, still un-dried. Sophie has rested one foot there as she bent over to tip her catch into the jar. The mark was still damp enough to show the print of all six toes” (Wyndham 44).
This incident affected David greatly afterwards. David fought Alan trying to give Sophie time to run. Alan was much stronger than him but luckily Sophie knocks him out. David was very frustrated about everyone’s perspective on Sophie. Throughout David’s childhood, he was told to fear and report any mutants. He never felt that Sophie was a threat but more than a friend. They did not want the people of Waknuk to harm Sophie. This conflict is expressed as a person versus society. This leads David to believe that the definition is all fraudulent and their slaughtering innocent lives over something that they can’t control.
In conclusion, David’s conflict in his early childhood advocates the fact that David is a dynamic character. His discovery of Sophie’s sixth toe and his Uncle beliefs on Waknuk’s religion plays a major role in David’s development and evolution throughout the novel, The Chrysalids.
A significant factor that leads David to be a dynamic character is his enlightenment to change his beliefs and go against his own society. David’s discovery of his telepathic abilities supports the fact that David is a dynamic character. David being told his telepathic abilities was an offence is found on page 30, stating, “Davie’, he said, ‘I want you to make it a promise that you will never, never tell anyone else what you have just told me, never. It’s very important: later on, you’ll understand better how important it is. You mustn’t do anything that would even let anyone guess about it. Will you promise that?’” (Wyndham 30).
David at the time had no idea what powers he possesses, but to Waknuk, they were a threat. This conflict is shown as a person versus society. David is now contemplating what Waknuk considers a mutant. David now goes against the image of God. David is now experiencing what it feels like for offences in Waknuk, not having control over what they have or can not have. This personal experience made David feel like his society is not fair. David’s understanding of Waknuk’s unfair laws and regulations ultimately leads to his enlightenment towards Waknuk’s society.
Another factor that leads David to his enlightenment to go against Waknuk’s society is Aunt Harriet’s altercation between her baby and Emily. More specifically, Aunt Harriet’s baby being considered a mutant. Aunt Harriet’s altercation between her baby and Emily could be found on page 70. It states, “‘Harriet’ she demanded sharply. ‘Are you going to tell me that you have not got a certificate?’ My aunt made no reply, but I thought I caught the sound of a suppressed sob or to from my aunt. Then she said, unsteadily, ‘It’s nothing much!’” (Wyndham 70).
This encounter leads David to comprehend that if his family finds out about his telepathic abilities, Davids’s parents would not have sympathy or forgiveness for him. This foreshadows the reader that David must protect himself from his identity from others to keep himself and his future safe.
In conclusion, David’s enlightenment to go against his own society demonstrates how David is a dynamic character. His discovery of his telepathic abilities and the encounter and experience with Aunt Harriet all play a role in David’s development throughout the novel, The Chrysalids.
One major factor that supports David to be a dynamic character is his decision to flee Waknuk for his safety and control over his future. David’s understanding that the people of Waknuk knew about his and his group’s telepathic abilities supports the fact that David fleeing from Waknuk was necessary. Uncle Axel informed David of being careless about his promise to not tell anyone about his telepathic abilities is found on page 117. It states, “‘Your’re not – you don’t mean she told Alan about herself!’ I protested. ‘She did,’ he nodded. ‘She did more than that. She told him about all you.’ I stared at him incredulously. ‘You can’t be sure of it. Uncle Axel!’ ‘I am, Davie boy. Maybe she didn’t intend to. Maybe it was only herself she told about, being the kind of person who can’t keep secrets in bed. And maybe he had to beat the names of the rest of you!’” (Wyndham 117).
David is now in the perspective of what mutants are feeling. David is now never welcomed in the society of Waknuk. He knows that his family would not have sympathy after what happened to Aunt Harriet earlier. This leaves no choice for David and forces him to flee Waknuk for his safety and have control over his future. David is also aware of what they will exceed to do to him if he stays. Considering that they tortured Sally and Katherine, they will do the same for David, perhaps even worse.
Another major factor that proves David’s character is dynamic is the Sealand woman claiming that David’s childhood dream is a reality and encouraging him to emigrate and migrate to Zealand. Sealand women’s claim about there being a Zealand could be found on page 136, stating, “I was jolted to recognize the picture from the childhood dreams that I had almost forgotten. I broke in, repeating it more clearly than Petra had shown it. A fish-shaped things, all white and shiny. ‘Yes – like that,’ Petra agreed. ‘There’s something very queer about this altogether,’ Micheal put in” (Wyndham 137).
This discovery was the main reason why David left Waknuk, to go to a society where they were welcomed. In Zealand society, they were encouraged to improve and gain telepathic abilities, unlike Waknuk where they slaughter and torcher civilians who have this ability. This also explains why Petra was so significant to Zealand. They wanted to use Petra for her incredible strength to teach the people of Zealand more about their telepathic abilities.
In conclusion, David’s decision to flee Waknuk for his own safety and control over his future shows that David is a dynamic character. Waknuk’s urge to torcher and kill David for his telepathic abilities and Sealand’s women’s explanation of Zealand all play a significant role in David’s development throughout the novel.
In determination, a chrysalid is expressed as a protective covering. State of being or growth. Therefore, The Chrysalids novel is a direct symbolic of David’s coming of age and growth. David’s conflict in his early childhood, his enlightenment to go against Waknuk society, and his decision to leave Waknuk all contribute to the fact that David is a dynamic character in the novel The Chrysalids by John Wyndham.
The theme of The Chrysalids is a warning to today’s society. John Wyndham was knowledgeable about society’s feelings towards others and wanted to alter that. His goal was to give the reader a surreal feeling of what might have happened if ends did not meet. David’s actions show realism for postmodern society. The actions of the Storms family express racism and discrimination which shows that our society in real life could be much identical.
The Chrysalids: Theme of Bravery in the Novel
There is a great amount of Bravery & Courage shown in the novel, The Chrysalids. These different events help give suspense and life into the plot of the story. Some of the events may include David’s bravery for Sophie (vise-versa), and Aunt Harriet’s resoluteness for her baby. These next few paragraphs will tell how these people show a courageous influence on the people in their communities and in their home.
When David first met Sophie, in the beginning of the novel, there were many signs of courage. Firstly, there was bravery shown when Sophie was forced to reveal her deviation to David, while he was trying to save her foot from being broken.
“Then she said: ‘Go away! You mustn’t look.’ … ‘I can’t,’ she said, looking me fearfully through her tears, so I knelt down to see what I could do about it. ‘You mustn’t ever tell,’ she said. ‘Never, never! Promise?’…”
This quote tells that Sophie was brave, even though she did shout out some whimpers and cries. In reality somebody in such a scary satiation, would just simply give up and leave their foot there to crush.
Although Sophie’s fearlessness was clearly shown throughout the first few chapters, David was also there showing a many signs of heroic acts, to try and save his friend from being caught. When Mr. Strorm (David’s father) demanded David to give him information about Sophie, David simply refused and denied every question that was thrown at him. Yes, David was beaten, and Yes, Sophie was exposed, but the confidence shown in they were enough for Sophie to escape (at least for a little while…).
At about the same time that David’s mother, Ms. Strorm had her baby, Aunt Harriet gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Although she was seemed to be a norm, with two legs, two hands, two eyes etc. this little girl had was a deviation. Despite the fact that Aunt Harriet was petrified for her child, she was also confident that Ms. Strorm was going to let her switch baby’s with her for the inspection.
“‘It would only be for a day or two; just while I could get the certificate,’ Aunt Harriet went doggedly on. ‘ You are my sister, Emily – my sister, and the only person in the world who can help me to keep my baby.’”
Any person who knew that Emily was the wife of Joseph Strorm, would also know that he had poisoned her mind with thoughts about the evil in deviations. However Harriet, being as brave as she is, was aware of this situation and still asked Emily to proceed with the baby switch. When Mr. Strorm found out about this little blemish of the body, Harriet stood up for her rights and her baby by speaking her mind about what this world is coming to.
Sophie, David, and Harriet are three people that the author, John Wyndham used to define courage in this novel. Whether it was revealing your deepest, darkest secret, trying to obscure your friend, or standing up for you and your baby’s rights, these people showed a great amount of bravery. Placing forms of courage in a novel can help show readers never to be afraid or nervous.
The Chrysalids by John Wyndham: Literary Analysis
The Chrysalids Analysis Paper
An author’s intent for a novel can remain unclear should they choose to withhold their view, and let the reader discover it alone. In The Chrysalids, by John Wyndham, the author uses a first person view to accomplish this. Themes of truth and religion surface throughout the novel and lead the reader to consider whether the book is against religion entirely. When analyzed closely, the majority of the text does not hold an anti-Christian view. Through the plot, voices, and tone of the author, the story is shown to be incredibly thought provoking and free from any negative motive.
The plot, told through the eyes of a boy named David Strorm, is a key aspect to knowing the author’s message. It begins in the cultish town of Waknuk where the religious practices are made to be the town’s ignorance and corruption. This may feel very anti-religious, but by the end of the book, the plot shows the same failings in every type of society; even progressive aesthetic societies are shown to struggle with the same problems of Waknuk. This continuous dystopia that is shown to the reader implies that the author understands the corrupt nature of humans and its affect on society. This also indicates that there is a solid truth of what is right or wrong, and nothing displays this better than the voices of the author.
Characters such as Uncles Axel or Aunt Harriet were used by Wyndham to speak his mind on certain topics without directly telling the reader. Aunt Harriet is hardly in the book, aside from part of a chapter, and yet she is one of the most memorable people. Her scenario is created to illuminate the evil values that the Waknuk society holds. She is technically an outlaw and in the wrong from her actions, but the reader does not consider this when their conscience is saying otherwise. This gut feeling of right and wrong is used to show that there is a universal truth or standard which the many societies fail to comply with. Wyndham hammers this in with strong lines from Harriet:
“Why should I? I’ve done nothing to be ashamed of. I am not ashamed — I am only beaten.” (Wyndham, p.72)
“’I shall pray,’ she said. ‘Yes, I shall pray.’ She paused, then she went on, her voice steady and harder: ‘I shall pray God to send charity into this hideous world, and sympathy for the weak, and love for the unhappy and unfortunate. I shall ask Him if it is indeed His will that a child should suffer and its soul be damned for a little blemish of the body. . . . And I shall pray Him, too, that the hearts of the self-righteous may be broken….’” (Wyndham, p.73)
Uncle Axel plays a large role in this as well. He is the most prominent voice of the author, and hardly serves the plot in any way other than providing the reader with information or ideas. He describes the world as full of societies just like Waknuk except they think they are the most important in some way. This solidifies that the varying societal failures are not limited to Christian stereotypes or views. Wyndham is showing the failure of cultures consistently closing themselves from the world, not the effects of religion on culture. It also is surrounding the physical changes in people, rather than any moral or spiritual belief.
In addition to not attacking Christian beliefs, Wyndham also keeps a very neutral tone for the majority of the book. Instead of telling how things should be, he addresses problems in the story and allows the reader to make their own conclusions without being forced an opinion. This is crucial to what could have been a very self motivated book. Wyndham admits through Uncle Axel that he may not know the purpose of life or society, and he shows flaws in many varying cultures. His tone lets the reader develop their own ideas as David begins to form his own beliefs during a very chaotic upbringing. Without this, the book or characters would be much less intriguing.
The greatest argument for a anti-Christian story would be a relative view on society, but even this is not accepted by the author. A relative view would believe that each culture was doing the right thing because truth is relative and evolving. To guarantee the reader does not conclude this, the author uses the concept of absolute moral guidelines to admonish the societies that hurt others simply because they are different, whether in appearance or beliefs. If the author had intended a relative outcome, the beliefs of these cultures would not have been attacked.
The Chrysalids proposes many questions while answering few. This not only allows the reader to consider their own beliefs, but not feel attacked for them as well. For this reason, the book is not anti-Christian. As evidence, the plot, characters, and writing style all support this conclusion. Even if the author was against religion, the book remains a fairly neutral satire which manages to force the reader to question the most rooted problems in humans.
A Theme Of Hope In The Chrysalids By John Wyndham
“Everything that is done in the world is done by hope.” – Martin Luther King. Hope is portrayed throughout The Chrysalids in many ways and is the source reason for why and how the characters in John Wyndham’s book drove the story towards its happy ending. Hope is shown throughout the story of The Chrysalids constantly through many different situations and characters such as David and his telepathically communicating friend’s adventurous escape, the Fringes and Waknuk society’s strict intolerance for difference and determination to maintain purity, and uncle Axel. In conclusion, hope is portrayed throughout the Chrysalids in many different ways.
David’s escape from Waknuk along with his friends is where hope was at its peak. To begin with, David and his friends looked at every obstacle they encountered in their journey very optimistically which drove their hope. For example, on page 143, David has a telepathic conversation with Michael where he mentions “…you mustn’t let them get a hold of Rosalind or Petra – far better to kill them yourself that let that happen to them…”, which Petra also picks up, questioning David about this statement, and David responds with, “Hush, darling. It isn’t going to happen, because we aren’t going to let them catch us”. Conclusively, he solidifies that no such thing is going to happen because he his hopeful. Furthermore, hope is shown when the Sealand women first contacts Petra. To emphasize, Michael hopes that the Sealand women can really save them on time and puts down his trust towards her. Moreover, hope is represented through each of the characters several times as well. For example, Petra tells David and Rosalind that the Sealand women said “…when I grow up, I must have babies who can make strong think pictures, too”. This shows that the Sealand women is hopeful and optimistic and believes that Petra will soon be rescued, and she will be able to do these things. The Sealand women also shows hope throughout the escape by reminding the group how much longer her arrival will take, showing that she believes it will happen. In conclusion, the characters portrayed hope throughout their escape because they knew the future would be better than the present.
Hope is also portrayed throughout the novel because of the qualities of the people of Waknuk & the Fringes. Fundamentally, people of Waknuk set objectives for themselves to accomplish, which drove their hope. For example, the primary and imperative objective in the Waknuk society was to wipe out deviants. Joseph Strorm followed this by disposing everything deviational, and any irreverence, so he could live in an environment that regarded the genuine picture of god. Joseph had hope because he believed that god, The Bible, and The Repentances all trusted that the world ought to be involved individuals that complied with the genuine picture. Furthermore, hope was demonstrated throughout the Fringes too. For example, when the deviant’s departure to the Fringes, they are demonstrating hope since they trust that there is better future for them and they are at last in a situation where they are acknowledged for their identity, and their irregular features are never again taken as an irreverence. All in all, hope is shown through the different societies.
David’s uncle Axel portrays hope throughout the novel too. To begin with, he shows hope since he doesn’t pursue the strict guidelines of the administration and enables David and the others to escape from the general public instead of handing them over. To explain, he believes that there are other ways to deal with blasphemies and hopes that David and his friends successfully escape from Waknuk. Furthermore, uncle Axel dwells on the fact that the way of the people of Waknuk is foolish. For example, he says, “They think that they are the true image- but they can’t know for sure” and many other statements similar to this. He hopes that in the future Waknuk society will begin to accept everyone and make a more peaceful environment. All things considered, hope is shown through uncle Axels personality.
In conclusion, hope was portrayed throughout the Chrysalids in multiple ways from David’s adventurous escape with his friends, the society of Waknuk and the Fringes, and through many characters such as Uncle Axel. All in all, the Chrysalids is a novel of hope, rather than despair.
Critical Analysis Of The Book The Chrysalids By John Wyndham
The Chrysalids is a book that touches on some pretty interesting themes such as discrimination, religion and conformity. This causes us to think further into the deeper meaning of the novel and how you can relate to other things present in our everyday lives and reflect upon ourselves. Understanding a text can increase how you are affected by the writing. Understanding socially, historically, and culturally can make the text much more meaningful, and increase your understanding of what the author is trying to portray.
In this book the understanding comes from the story, you need to know some basic historical knowledge but since it takes place in a fictional universe that simulates earth all understood as rules of that universe. Aside from needing to use some critical thinking in some of the scenarios presented you can treat this text as an independent source. If you are a critical reader all the influence is from the author himself.
In writing you’re usually very influenced by your upbringing and bring some details from your childhood into your texts, so let’s take a deeper look into John Wyndham’s childhood and how it may have affected the writing of this book. There is a strong theme of self-governance in the chrysalids and it would seem it shares some similar themes and patterns with other types of government, these types of governments rising at this time may have influenced the government type in the novel. This book is very science fiction based because parts of the nuclear war section are true but in this book, it is taken to and extreme. This book was written in the golden age of science fiction so it would make sense to have these prominent themes.
John Wyndham was born July 10, 1903, England and died March 11, 1969, in London. He was an English science-fiction writer who typically wrote about the human’s struggle for survival when a natural event suddenly invades a comfortable setting. Wyndham had various jobs throughout his years before he finally decided on writing, from farming to advertising When he was 8 years old his parents divorced, which may affect his story writing when it comes to the disconnect between David and his parents and why David sees his parents as these evil controlling people in his life. He continued writing until 1939 when World War II came to Britain. He worked during the war as a government censor for the Ministry of Information. This may have given him the base for the chrysalids, he got to see all the information and he is the one that censored it, he got to read first hand the details of the war and how terrible it truly was. Only short after the war did he write the chrysalids so his real-world knowledge of the war that he lived through was probably still in his mind.
Nazism In almost every respect it was an anti-intellectual and atheoretical movement, emphasizing the will of the charismatic dictator as the sole source of inspiration of a people and a nation, as well as a vision of annihilation of all enemies was the only goal of Nazi policy. Similar to the way that the government is depicted in Waknuk, they believe all their teachings are from that of god and they follow blindly in what they have interpreted as gods will. Nazism has come to stand for a belief in the superiority, and to the people in the book, they believe they are superior to the fringes people and that is why they cast them away because they feel like they are the proper portrayal of man.
Communism, however, is the opposite theme in this book concerning government. Communism follows the overthrow of capitalism, a society without class divisions or government structure. A classless system in which means of production are owned communally and private property doesn’t exist. In the book we specifically see that each of the farmers own their land and are forced to buy from others, we also see very much class division when it comes to the fringes people and even those who live closer to the centre of town, when the main government won’t even discharge the arm to help with the fringes raids.
Science fiction is based on an imagined futuristic dystopia or technologically advanced world with major social changes or environmental changes. Science fiction is to expand beyond the limits of humanity. Many old books depict scenarios where man traverses beyond the limits of the world, and dive into space, which is very present with this book. During the time this book was written in the golden age of science fiction when it was the most popular writing style but I think what made this book stand out the most was the fact that it was so similar to our world and was so close to being within the realm of possibility.
In conclusion, Wyndham’s work was influenced by so many factors, many of them related to his environment in the past and in the time in which he was creating the book. To read this book you need no background knowledge but knowing about his upbringing and the different types of government may bring you a whole new perspective to the themes and scenarios in the book. Wyndhams writing is so strong individually so the added knowledge may bring you into his mindset. He creates scenes that are so vivid and realistic that contributed to his books success not only because of his inclusion of science fiction but because he was a very talented writer, to begin with.
Depiction Of An Obsession With The “Norm” In The Chrysalids By John Wyndham
The Chrysalids is a science fiction novel, created by John Wyndham, that showcases themes such as religious beliefs, fear of authority, and punishment; yet it also deals with how obsession with the “norm” can create prejudice and discrimination. Many characters that don’t follow the “true image” of God, suffer and have to go through the animosity from the people of Waknuk. Wyndham illustrates that it can create prejudice and discrimination for everyone by including in his novel that anyone found with deformities will be sent to the Fringes, by showing that the people of Waknuk don’t even consider blasphemies as humans, and deserve harsh punishment, and that this obsession forces them to think that everyone who doesn’t comply or is a devil or associated with the devil.
Firstly, to indicate the obsession in Waknuk, anyone found with deformities will be sent to the Fringes if caught. The people of Waknuk strongly follow the “Definition of Man” in the Repentances, which is that, “each leg shall be jointed twice and have one foot, and each foot five toes, and each toe shall end with a flat nail…”. Which shows that whoever this definition doesn’t apply to, shall be exiled from the society of Waknuk. An example of this would be Gordon Strorm, also known as Joseph Strorm’s brother and spider-man, as he was sent to the Fringes because of his limbs being too long and skinny. He didn’t match what the “true image” of God was, therefore he was banished to the outside of Waknuk just because he didn’t look or match the “norm”.
Secondly, Wyndham demonstrates this by showing that the people of Waknuk do not even consider blasphemies as humans. Shockingly, even babies are not considered humans unless they have been passed by the Inspector. An example of this in the novel, would be when Aunt Harriet begs her sister, David’s mother, to borrow her newborn baby for a day so that she can pass the inspection. It has been Aunt Harriet’s third baby with a fault, and she does not want to have to deal with the consequences, like her own husband leaving her. “This is the third time. They’ll take my baby again like they took the others… Henry will turn me out, I think. He’ll find another wife, who can give him proper children. There’ll be nothing – nothing in the world for me – nothing.” David’s mother is appalled that her own sister would ask for such a favour, and since she is immensely religious, she does not do it and sends her own sibling off. Showing that she has no sympathy for her child, as it’s not a baby, but a monster according to her. “…You have the effrontery to bring your monster into my house, and tell me that it’s nothing much.”
Thirdly, the obsession with the ‘norm’ forces them to think that everyone who doesn’t comply is sent by or associated with the devil. A specific example of this is Sophie Wender versus the people of Waknuk. She is a young girl in The Chrysalids, and physically, she has a deviation separating her from the ‘norm,” which is that she has 6 toes. She isn’t considered a “human” and her family and her know it themselves; which is why she tries to hide her foot in the first chapter from David when she gets it stuck. According to Sophie’s mother, (talking about Sophie’s sixth toe,) “If anyone were to find out, they’d — they’d be terribly unkind to her.” which represents that they are aware that Sophie is not accepted, as she does not follow the “true image” of God, and people would consider her a devil sent from Hell. Another example of this would be when David blurts out that if only he had a third hand, he could take care of his wound more easily, and his father catches him mentioning that: “I could have managed it all right by myself if I’d had another hand.” David states. After this, David’s father responds by accusing that he was calling upon the Devil to give him another hand. He then sends David to go to his room and pray for forgiveness from God “that he does not deserve”.
In conclusion, this is how Wyndham illustrates in The Chrysalids that the obsession with the ‘norm’, by anyone found with deformities will be sent to the Fringes, that it forces them to think that everyone who doesn’t comply is a devil themselves, or is associated with the devil, and by showing that the people of Waknuk don’t consider blasphemies as humans.
Prejudiced Society In The Chrysalids By John Wyndham
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.” ― Martin Luther King Jr. The topic of my essay is how and why the society of Waknuk is prejudiced, in The Chrysalids by John Wyndham. My first argument is about the people of Waknuk’s hate towards the chrysalids. My second argument focuses mainly on Joseph Strorm; his character traits, and his actions. My third and final argument talks about the atmosphere that the main character David had to grow up in. Through several literary elements, Wyndham has created a prejudice society in The Chrysalids which has an obsessive devotion to conformity to the norm, resulting in opposition to change or deviation from the norm.
Prejudice is also seen in Waknuk from the hate that people have expressed for the chrysalids in more than one way. Right after Katherine and Sally confirmed that David, Rosalind, and Petra are telepaths, their certificates of normalcy were then immediately revoked even though they had lived with them for almost twenty years. After Micheal told David and Rosalind that Sally and Katherine had confessed he told them that “They could pass for normal anywhere. So a proclamation was posted, describing the three of you and officially classifying you as deviants”. This shows how quickly the people of Waknuk will change their views on you even after they trust you for so long as they actually did in the story. Equally important, everyone in or outside of Waknuk was told that there is a reward for anyone who can report and confirm the deaths of David, Rosalind, and Petra. We know this from Micheal informing the chrysalids that “Anyone may shoot them on sight without penalty”. He also told them that “There is a small reward if their deaths are reported and confirmed”. Taking away their certificates was enough but on top of that, giving out a reward for the death of the chrysalids just because of something they can do only adds more proof as to why Waknuk is a prejudiced society. In more brief words, the people of Waknuk can and will change their views on someone based on their physical appearance or something that they can do. They also have a mindset that someone who they consider not to be human does not deserve to have basic rights or even to live.
Another way that prejudice is shown in the society of Waknuk is through the acts and characteristics of Joseph Strorm, the preacher of the church at Waknuk and the son of Elias Strorm (the man who founded Waknuk). Joseph is also the father of the main character, David. Firstly, Joseph Strorm ordered a cat that he had found to be killed because he saw that it did not have a tail. Soon after the poor cat had been killed it was proved not to be a blasphemy. “It had somehow come to his knowledge that Ben Dakers’ wife had housed a tailless cat. He investigated … and ordered the inspector to make out a warrant for its destruction as an offence … then a notification subsequently arrived stating that there was a recognized breed of tailless cats”. Clearly, this quote shows that Joseph saw a cat without a tail and then, did minimal research about it and immediately ordered it to be killed. It proves that Joseph wants to get rid of anything that is out of the ordinary or does not look exactly like the “norm”. Secondly, Joseph also yelled at his own son for just saying that if he had a third hand he could have tied a bandage more easily. Right after David said that his father yelled: “What was that you said, boy?”. From this, we can say that even the mere mention of deviations can enrage Joseph because David was just saying that if he had a third hand he could have done something more easily and Joseph got very angry and yelled at him. Joseph started accusing David of showing dissatisfaction with the body he has and wishing for another hand from the devil. Similarly, the comparison of the devil and deviations from Joseph shows that there is a distaster for deviations in the eyes of Joseph too. In other words, Joseph Strorm is a very forceful man who wants to get rid of anything that looks like it is out of the ordinary and the smallest mention of a deviation is enough to make Joseph raise his voice setting an example for everyone else in Waknuk.
The society of Waknuk is shown to be prejudiced because of the atmosphere that the main character had to grow up in. To begin with, every wall and piece of furniture in David’s home are all painted white. We know this because David stated that “The furniture was whitely-scrubbed tables and stools, with a few chairs. The walls were whitewashed”. The white furniture and walls are used by the author to represent purity in the house of the Strorms. They sought purity by only following and believing in the “norm” which is defined to them only by Nicholson’s Repentances (the main religious text in The Chrysalids). Additionally, there are also wooden panels with sayings from Nicholson’s Repentances. David also said that there “was a number of wooden panels with sayings, mostly from Repentances, artistically burnt into them … The largest was the one on the back wall, hung to face the door which led to the yard. It reminded everyone who came in: WATCH THOU FOR THE MUTANT!”. The largest wooden panel is the first thing that is seen when walking into the house. This is significant because it tells whoever enters the house that the Strorm family takes pride in Nicholson’s Repentances and does not support deviations whatsoever. Another saying “THE DEVIL IS THE FATHER OF ALL DEVIATION” supports this claim further by showing that the Strorms have such a high distaste for deviations that they compare all of them to the devil. In shorter terms, the white walls and furniture in David’s house symbolize purity and the sayings from Nicholson’s Repentances hanged onto the walls illustrate the bias between deviations and the “norm”.
In The Chrysalids, by John Wyndham, the society of Waknuk is extremely prejudiced due to how they treat anyone who is different from what they consider normal, the way that their leader acts, and also because of the atmosphere that people have to live in. For instance, the chrysalid’s certificates of normalcy and rewards were set up for the confirmation of their deaths showing how quick people are to judge you even after knowing you for your entire life. A couple of chapters earlier in the story, Joseph ordered a tailless cat to be killed and then later found out it was not a deviation showing the subjective character traits of Joseph. Joseph was also very outraged when his own son, David just spoke of having a third hand. There are also wooden panels with sayings from Nicholson’s Repentances showing the Strorms have a high distaste for deviations and they have also painted the walls and furniture white to tell everyone that their home is pure. In general, the society of Waknuk in The Chrysalids is prejudiced because the people hate anyone or anything that is born outside of what they consider normal, their leader does not like change one bit, and the atmosphere that everyone grows up in is very suggestive of judging someone only by something that they can not control or have no power over.