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.
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