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.
The Consequences Of Discrimination In John Wyndham’s The Chrysalids
History clearly depicts the dangers of people believing they belong to a superior race or group as it often leads to war. John Wyndham’s novel, The Chrysalids, reinforces this idea as the novel illustrates the danger of people believing that only one race or group is correct. In the novel, there are three types of communities which divide people up based on their differences. Consequently, The Chrysalids is a relevant postmodern text which warns society about the importance of treating others in a non-discriminatory manner by exploring the three divisions of society: Waknuk, Fringes, and Sealand.
Firstly, it is important to know that the people of Waknuk believe they have been created in the “image of God”. People in this community are likely to discriminate and physically hurt those who deviate from this expectation. This is because they have all the necessary things in life and much more due to the power they have in society. David was brought up in his community to think that everyone should be created in the “image of God” or be banished to the Fringes to fend for themselves. This is seen when David thinks about the definition of Man in the following manner: “ ‘…each leg should have one foot, and each foot five toes and each toe shall end with a flat nail… and any creature that shall seem to be human, but is not formed thus is not human. It is neither man nor woman. It is a blasphemy against the true Image of God, and hateful in the sight of God’ ”. It is sad to think that this is what David is taught as it reinforces the idea that anyone who is even slightly different would be considered abnormal. David’s father really drills in this idea as he is a community leader. In fact, one day, when David was wrapping a bandage around his hand, he absent-mindedly wishes for a third hand which makes his father furious. David senses that the atmosphere changes as the narration says, “silence fell on the whole room like a clap”. Hearing his own son say this causes David’s father to verbally attack him. This illustrates the strong views that the Waknuks have in regards to what a human being should look and be like, thus creating many concerns for those who do not fit the expected image.
In addition to the Waknuk community, it is also important to understand who the Fringes are in the novel as they are the deviations who are hunted and tormented for being “different”. They are all different because of their genetic mutations. However, they are still people who want the freedom to be themselves. The Fringes are all rejects of Waknuk but feel like there is nothing wrong with them and, thus, have a strong hatred towards the people of Waknuk as they are physically abused by them. David also thinks this as he thinks back to Sophie, “yet there was nothing wrong with Sophie. She was an ordinary little girl — if a great deal more sensible and braver than most”. As David was growing up, he is taught that Fringes are scary people and look like monsters. He soon realizes that this is not true, because when he meets Sophie, she looksjust like him, but with an extra toe. The people of Fringes are forced to steal from Waknuk as they do not have the necessary items to live. This leads to many conflicts including a few battles. In the story, there is a battle and David waits for information to make sure everyone is safe: “… two of the captured Fringes leaders in the middle of them… the tales about the had let to expect creatures with two heads, or fur all over, or half a dozen arms and legs. Instead, they seemed at first glance to be ordinary men…”. This shows that even though they look like ordinary men, they were still known as deviants because they were not in the “image of God”. One of the leaders of the Fringes is David’s uncle which shows that David’s father would turn on his own blood; his brother simply because of his rigid discriminatory beliefs. Since the Fringes have less access to food and various resources, they feel anger towards Waknuk people as a result of the injustice, ultimately causing a major conflict.
Finally, the Sealanders, who are also a community of deviants, embraced their differences leading them to create all types of technology which illustrates the importance of embracing differences. The Sealanders are only discovered near the end of the book when Petra lets a cry to the Sealand lady. They believe that only the telepaths should live and, so, they are the only ones set free from the sticky threads which was dropped. The narration reveals: “David, Rosalind, Petra, and Micheal are amazed as they saw the white machine that rested in the middle of the clearing. The device on top of it had ceased to revolve… there were glazed windows in the side of the fish-shaped body, and a door stood open”. Even though the telepaths have special powers and abilities, they have no technology and are fascinated by what they see. The people of Sealand are known as the New people which makes the reader wonder if the others also look like the Sealand lady and if they also have similar technology. The Sealand lady decides to wipe out all of Waknuk and Fringes to make another historical moment and says, “the old people brought down tribulation, and were broken into fragments. They are determined still that there is a final form to defend: soon they will attain the stability they strive for, in the only form granted – a place among the fossils”. This shows the theme of discrimination from a religious point of view. Joseph had the same mindset from the beginning to the end of the book, he thought that God had one true image and anyone else who did not fit this should not be considered human. The Sealanders, on the other hand, think that they and the telepaths should be the only one who survives and ends up killing everyone else which causes mass destruction, as a whole community is wiped out due to perceived differences and discriminatory thought patterns.
To conclude, by looking at the three communities, Waknuk, Fringes, and Sealand, it is easy to understand that the destruction and discrimination between them is narrated to reinforce the idea that discrimination is dangerous. John Wyndham creates the book the Chrysalids to prove to people that everyone should be treated the same. Waknuk contains more value as they have more power and discriminate against deviants. The Fringes are poor and struggle to survive until Sealand takes over both communities as the kills everyone except for the telepaths. Therefore, people who believe they belong to a superior race or group often are the cause of various wars and conflicts which makes this novel a cautionary tale for humanity.
The Role Of Female Heroes In The Chrysalids By John Wyndham
Women have always been looked down upon by society, especially in leadership roles. In The Chrysalids, by John Wyndham, the female characters are the most important characters in the story. Petra and Rosalind have a big impact on the story, and in saving themselves and the group. In the story, David, Rosalind and Petra and six other people have telepathic abilities. They live in the Waknuk district, where people discriminate against people who are different. So, once the people of Waknuk find out about their abilities, they have to flee.In the runaway, the female characters in The Chrysalids are the real heroes of the novel.
Petra makes a huge impact by giving Rosalind and David a free life. She is also very intelligent. Firstly, Petra helps her group members by persuading the people of Zealand to help them, ensuring that they have a free life. Petra has no limit in her range for her telepathic ability. Since she has no limit, she is interrupted by a woman far away. She later discovers that the woman lives in Zealand, and the people who have telepathic powers there are accepted and not discriminated against. The people from Zealand comes to help the group: “The Sealand people are coming to help. They are not so far away as they were, now.” she told us confidently”. This is significant because David and Rosalind know that they will have a free life since they will be accepted in Zealand (Sealand). Secondly, Petra is really intelligent. Petra is six years old and she is able to learn a new ability in a very short period of time: “The following afternoon we had another session… Petra was beginning to grasp the idea of forming thought-shapes — in a childish way, as was only to be expected — but frequently recognizable in spite of distortions”.
As this is said by Petra’s teacher, David, who refers to it as a big achievement. In just an afternoon, Petra is able to learn a new ability, although she is not very good at it and has problems. Later in the story she manages to learn to control it too. She is able to learn a new ability in a short period of time, shows intelligence and intelligence is important for a hero because they need to be intelligent and crafty in their adventure.Rosalind is another female character who is a hero throughout the novel as she proves to be a resourceful person, and comforts her friends.
Firstly, Rosalind is a resourceful person. Throughout the story, she uses her knowledge to best help David and the “the group”. She uses her resources to best of her ability like when she used her father’s great- horses: “‘Ordinary horses have the speed of them for short bursts,’ I acknowledged, ‘but they can’t touch them for stamina.’” Although this is said by the narrator, David, it acknowledges that Rosalind is mindful of the future as she uses the great- horses to help them, in case of a fast runaway. Rosalind is able to think fast on her feet, as she has little time to flee Waknuk, making her a resourceful person. Furthermore, she chooses a trail that is harder to find them on: “We went on by the erratic route that Rosalind had picked to hide the trail”. The significance of this quote is that it explains that Rosalind can be resourceful in thinking of trial that keeps them hidden for as long as possible.
Secondly, Rosalind can comfort her friends when in need. Throughout the story, Rosalind is able to comfort her friends when they are feeling down, especially Petra. Since she is the youngest, she needs the most attention in a caring fashion. For example, Rosalind comforts Petra when she is crying because of the death of her pony: “She began to cry. Rosalind put an arm around her and held her close to her”. A selfless hero is a hero that shows caring in other people to make them feel better and strive to improve the life of others around them and that is important for a hero. Rosalind shows caring and a selfless hero in the example above. As Rosalind shows care for her friends and can comfort the people, making her a hero.
In conclusion, in the book The Chrysalids the female characters play a tremendous role, making them heroes of the story. In particular, Petra and Rosalind. Petra helps to give David and Rosalind a free life from Waknuk, where the people are discriminating them because of their special ability. Rosalind on other hand uses her resourceful mind to best aid in the adventure to flee Waknuk. Canada has gender equality in leadership roles, but it different countries around the world, many countries look down upon women as a leader.
Three Important Lessons In John Wyndham’s The Chrysalids
The Chrysalids by John Wyndham is a story about a dystopian future with extremely religious beliefs. The story takes place in Waknuk where they believe in the “perfect image”, anything astray from what they believe to be a human is considered a deviation. We see this through the eyes of a boy named David Strorm. He discovers more about “deviations” and how the people around him feel about anything that is not the “norm”. On his journey, David also discovers that he can telepathically communicate with others who possess his ability. From an exterior perspective, David and the group of 8 (the other people with his ability) appear to be normal. However, they must not tell anyone about their abilities. Because being different could get them sent to the Fringes. Throughout the text, there have been some important lessons that the author highlighted. These lessons can be taken and implemented/connected to our lives. These lessons are perfection is a concept, the importance of friendship, and morality.
Lessons in this book show how perfection is a man-made concept. The reader learns of the unjust actions towards the Fringes people, things are not always what they seem to be. The world is not a perfect place and nobody is flawless. There are ‘perfect’ characters in the book that treat the Fringe people unfairly throughout the story. It was not the fringe people’s fault for looking different. It is theorized that a nuclear plant had exploded and the surrounding area was ravaged by the radiation. This resulted in the Fringes territory becoming seriously mutated. The plants, animals and people would be deformed within the secluded ‘Badlands’. This is where the Fringes were forced to live. Often these areas did not have enough food because of the radiation. The reader can learn it is important to understand things fully before making a judgment and putting things into action. The deviations can not just become a norm, David explains: ‘She can refuse to respond. She’s doing that now, like somebody refusing to talk – but to go on with it… It’d be like taking a vow of silence for the rest of her life. I mean, she can’t just let herself forget, and become a norm. We can’t believe that’s possible”. They believed that being different is not apart of the “Norm” or what they see as perfect. They do not understand how the fringes people feel and think. Due to this lack of understanding, they are condemned and sent away. Just because they did not fit the waknukians image of mankind… Moreover, if the roles are flipped and the fringes people were the “Norm”, would the concept of perfection be bestowed onto them? The Zealand Lady believes that people like her are more superior: “We are the new people-your kind of people. The people who can think-together We’re the people that are going to build a new kind of world – different from the old people’s world, and from the savages”. Much like the beliefs of the people in Waknuk the Zealand lady thinks that non-telepaths are inferior. Infact, it is quite ironic. The people of Waknuk think they are better and the Fringes people see them as inferior. Maybe if the people of Waknuk did not believe in the “Perfect” image they could live in harmony with the “deviations”.
At many points in the story, characters aid each other in hopes of achieving a common goal. We see this in a lot in the story, from David assisting Sophie when her foot gets stuck, to Uncle Axel aiding when he discovers David’s abilities. The largest display of true friendship is when Michael stays in waknuk to not leave Rachel alone. “Rachel deserves just as well as any of the rest of us. All right, then; since the machine can not take her, someone’s got to bring her”. Michael really cares about his friend Rachael. So much so that he gave up his chance to leave Waknuk for her.
The greatest theme in the story is morality. The book argues that even within societies that are morally corrupt, individuals have the power and responsibility to make their own moral decisions. While the actions of the Waknukians and Zealanders are morally shameful due to their racist and violent nature. Some people within this society are able to behave differently, despite being taught to conform. “It wouldn’t be just murder, Uncle Axel. It’d be something worse, as well; like violating part of ourselves for ever…. We couldn’t do it….”. The group of 8 decides not to kill Anne even though she puts all of their lives in danger by getting married, and Michael gives up the opportunity to go to Zealand because he does not want to leave Rachel alone in Waknuk. In many ways, the morals of the group separate them from the people of Waknuk much more than any physical or mental difference. The fact that David, Petra, Rosalind, Michael, and Sophie are much better people than the typical person of Waknuk, yet are all classified as deviants, shows the hypocrisy of their moral code which is advised by Nicholson’s repentances. “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.” Aunt Harriet is disgusted and upset by her own family. Her own sister will not aid her in her time of need because of their rules and beliefs. David’s Mother took one look at Harriet’s poor innocent baby and she was disgusted. She kicked her sister and the helpless baby out knowing they would not be accepted in their community. A person with a strong moral foundation would not treat another living being like that. The whole community of Waknuk has this morality issue. If everyone had strong morals and could look past people’s differences they could all live together in harmony.
This story overall was an excellent read. There were three main messages that John Wyndham was emphasizing in the plot. These lessons/messages correlate with real life and are things that can and should be used in everyday life. The three points are that perfection is a man-made concept, the importance of friendship, and having good morals. All 3 of these things can be applied to the real world and will make you a better and happier person in general. “The essential quality of life is living; the essential quality of living is change; change is evolution: and we are part of it.”
Hypocrisy at Its Finest: Evil in The Chrysalids
Mankind’s intense fear of evil is capable of provoking humans to commit grotesque acts of malice in order to get rid of “evil” in their daily life. John Wyndham’s The Chrysalids effectively exposes the hypocrisy and the ludicrousness of a society that executes in members based on their physical appearance in an attempt to remain pure and moral. The citizens of Waknuk in essence commit vicious acts of evil in order to restrain the growth of mutants in their society whom they consider ‘evil’. Firstly, in order to ensure that Sophie does not spread her mutations, they deny her the right to conceive babies. Despite being a small girl, they sterilize her and thrust her into the fringes naked. Secondly, the residents of Waknuk ruthlessly torture Katherine to learn about the ‘Thought shape group’ so that they can eradicate it. Lastly, they hunt down David, Petra and Rosalind; trying to murder them in order to ensure that no one with telepathic abilities is present in their society.
The Wanukians tirelessly try to hunt down David, Petra and Rosalind in order to eradicate all remaining mutants with telepathic abilities in their society. The imminent threat to their lives is starkly visible in the lines, “The man cannot have had a moment’s doubt who we were, for even as he saw us he dropped his reins and snatched his bow from his shoulder. Before he had a shaft on the string we had loosed at him. The motion of the great horse was unfamiliar, and we both shot wide. He did better. His arrow passed between us, skinning our horse’s head” (The Chrysalids 139). This significant piece of quotation vividly portrays the overwhelming danger to the lives of David, Petra and Rosalind. The arrow that passed between them could have passed through them!. Evidently, the Wanukians, who consider themselves to be the true representation of god conduct a malicious act by attempting to murder three innocent people. Furthermore, in order to get to David, Petra and Rosalind, the citizens of Waknuk wage a war against the people of the fringes resulting in the sorrowful deaths of Sophie and Gordon. Clearly, Wyndham has penned down a thought provoking novel ridiculing the Wanukians by presenting them as grotesque hypocrites who on the pretext of eradicating ‘evil’ conduct much more devilish acts themselves.
The citizens of Waknuk brutally torture Katherine in order to gain vital information about the whereabouts of the thought shape group. Her legs are barbarically burnt with “hot irons”. Katherine’s painful plight is starkly portrayed through Sally in the lines, “They’ve broken Katherine. They’ve broken her…Oh, Katherine, dear… you mustn’t blame her, any of you. Please, don’t blame her. They’re torturing her. It might have been any of us. She’s all clouded now. She can’t hear us.. Oh, Katherine, darling…” (The Chrysalids 130). Sally’s dramatic pauses and disturbed tone of voice give the readers a vivid insight into the pain and anguish Katherine had to endure. Furthermore, Wyndham incorporates evocative imagery in this piece of quotation to starkly portray the barbaric torture Katherine had to go through. Clearly, we can see that Wanukians have no qualms about using violence in their fight against the unknown. They themselves committed an evil act by “torturing Katherine” in an effort to remain moral and pure.
Throughout her somber and sorrowful life, Sophie has had to suffer from overwhelming discrimination and prejudice from the Wanukian society. The Wanukians ensure that Sophie is unable to spread her mutation by sterilizing her so that she is unable to conceive babies; in turn denying her the birth right that god had granted her. Despite the evident fact that Sophie was a small girl, she was still forced to spend her life in the terrifying and inhabitable fringes which caused her much pain and anguish. Sophie’s horrendous living conditions are is vividly depicted in the lines” The place was a cave about fifteen feet deep and nine wide… the entrance was covered by a skin curtain hooked across it. In one corner of the inner end there was a flaw in the roof from which water dripped steadily at about a drop a second … .In the other inner corner was a mattress of small branches, with skins and a tattered blanket on it. There were a few bowls and utensils…” (The Chrysalids 169). This significant piece of quotation starkly paints a disturbing picture in the reader’s minds about the hardships that Sophie had to endure on a daily basis. Sophie, was clearly the most tortured character in the Chrysalids who had to endure numerous hardships and sorrow throughout her entire life. Sophie’s pain and suffering is effectively portrayed in the powerful quotation “If she (Rosalind) were to give him children, he (Gordon) wouldn’t want me anymore,” (The Chrysalids 167). This powerful piece of quotation effectively portrays how the Wanukians have deprived Sophie the joy of motherhood.. Evidently, Sophie is likely to soon be deprived of Gordon’s love as she will be unable to give him babies because she was sterilized by the Wanukians. To be any kind of deviant is to be hurt; in the end, Sophie was unable to experience any joy that a woman of her society would expect to receive. Ultimately, she had to die a sorrowful death. In conclusion, Wyndham starkly pens down the grotesque and evil act the citizens of the society of Waknuk had committed by forcing a young, innocent girl to live a terrifying life in the fringes in order to get rid of “evil” in their society.
Through The Chrysalids, Wyndham effectively exposes the mendacity of the Wanukians who, in a desperate effort to restrain the growth of “evil” in their society, end up committing much more horrendous acts of evil themselves. Firstly, the citizens of Waknuk sterilize Sophie so that she is unable to conceive babies and spread her mutations in the Wanukian society. Secondly, they brutally torture Katherine in order to extract information about the members of the thought shape group. Katherine’s suspicious silence towards the end of the novel can be indicative of the fact that she may have been executed by the Wanukians. Lastly, the citizens of Waknuk ruthlessly attempt to murder David, Petra and Rosalind in order to eradicate all the mutants with telepathic abilities present in their society. Evidently, John Wyndham is able to effectively expose the hypocrisy of certain societies who commit grotesque acts of malice based on the ludicrous idea of erasing “evil” in their lives. The inability of Wakunians to accept the concept of change around them ultimately led to their sorrowful demise in the fringes. The Chrysalids thus portrays a vital truth that acceptance of change is an important key in successful functioning of any human society.
Works Cited Wyndham, John. The Chrysalids. England: Penguin Books. 1958.