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The Chrysalids

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Introduction

The word 'chrysalid' is a biological term meaning a state into which the larvae of insects pass through before they develop into adults, or in everyday usage means a sheltered state. As with all good novels, this title depicts the circumstances, to me, flawlessly. The society portrayed in the outstanding novel 'The Chrysalids' by John Wyndham is this way, in my view, due to their puritanical religious beliefs. 'The Chrysalids' is written in the first person, from the viewpoint of the central character, David Strorm. The story centres on David, and the society of Waknuk. Waknuk is suffering the aftermath of a nuclear war, which is referred to as 'Tribulation'. Genetic mutations are very common. The religious beliefs of the society of Waknuk trigger most people in my opinion, to be highly prejudiced and if the slightest mutation occurs, the inhabitants eliminate the offending plant or animal. If a human being is found to deviate from what is known as the 'true image', they are brutally sterilised and sent out to 'the fringes'. In my view, David is brought up in what seems like a severely religious family. As a child, he does believe in the religious teachings but due events which occur in his life he is forced to doubt it. David begins to fear for his safety when he and a group of friends who all possess extra sensory perception are discovered and forced to flee to 'the fringes'. ...read more.

Middle

Sophie is a deviant but this does not register with David until sometime after they meet, when he is thinking about some of his teachings: "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 then that it becomes clear to David that Sophie deviates, but still David does not see Sophie as a horrible creature and he does not understand how God could find her in any way 'hateful'. It seems to me that from then on David finds it highly difficult to reconcile the moral codes of his society with his conscience, thus showing me that although religious morals are supposed to be codes to live by, some are more harmful than good. David has always had a recurring dream. John Wyndham makes obvious references to twentieth century life in these dreams. David sees cars and aeroplanes in his dreams although he does not know what these are. David is dreaming about the society of today. David's dreams of this place are often incredibly detailed: "lights lay like strings of glow worms along the shore" This simile shows me the descriptiveness of David's dreams. ...read more.

Conclusion

I believe that he is saying how the preachers do not know what happened so they give it a term which is highly vague. Moreover, the lexical choice of the word 'rusted' gives me the impression that the religion followed by the people of Waknuk is old and dilapidated, almost to the extent of it entirely falling apart. This seems to echo the general theme in the book, that if religion goes too far it will crumble and cause anguish and torment. This is continued when Axel says: "souls are just counters for churches to collect, all the same value, like nails." In this thought provoking metaphor Axel compares souls to nails which seems to devalue them. He is also saying, to me, that everyone is the same, whether they 'deviate' or keep to the 'true image' as souls all have the same value, we are all worth the same. This seems to be a general message of the book, everyone is the same inside. In addition, the word choice of 'nails' conveys, to me, an image of religion being something sharp and painful, which is another of Wyndham's messages throughout. In conclusion, through clever language techniques such as metaphor, simile, alliteration and paradox and in particular highly intelligent and effective portrayals of characters, John Wyndham produces a study of religion which makes me ponder the ways of the world by taking a journey into one persons mind and shows whether you believe or not, religion will always be a part of life. ...read more.

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