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Themes of Chrysalids by John Wyndham

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    Have you ever dreamed of a place where you will have to hide your true identity to survive. “ The Chrysalids” by John Wyndham shows the reader exactly that. In this novel there are many different themes but the main themes are ; Survival to live in this community, discrimination, and punishment. Survival in this community is vital because if you are born a deviant you must learn to hide yourselves to blend in with the group otherwise you are banished to the fringes.

    As David states “ till our whole consideration if we were to survive must be to keep our true selves hidden; to walk, talk, and live indistinguishably from other people. We had a gift, a sense which, Michael complained bitterly, should have been a blessing, but was little better than a curse. ”(Chapter 9* It is clearly proven that for David being a deviant must hide himself from his community in order to survive. This was also quoted by the Sealand women “ Your work is to survive. Neither his kind, nor his kind of thinking will survive long.

    They are the crown of creation, they are ambition fulfilled — they have nowhere more to go. ”(Chapter 16) somewhere in the middle end) The Sealand women said clearly that people who are not broadminded will not survive for long. They will kill their own people if needed to perderve “purity”. Also in this community you would have to do anything survive as Aunt Harriet give an example “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.(Chapter 7 at the end ) Here she asked Emily (David’s mother) if she could use the baby for a couple of days to get the certificate. She went as far asking someone and letting out the secret of her deviant baby. Also if you are a deviant you cannot tell anyone. As Uncle Axel states “’ It’s this,’ he said, speaking very seriously. ‘ I want you to keep it secret. I want you to 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 me that? ”(Chapter 4 begging0) Here Uncle Axel in plain words describes how important it is to hide your deviation. As proven above we can see that one of the themes is Survival. Discrimination is also one of the main theme in this novel. People like Uncle Axel who believe that this image of purity is wrong, never get to talk about their opinion out loud. As David says “Uncle Axel went on talking about the doubts of the true image that his voyage had given him. (Chapter 6 end) This shows that even though Uncle Axel is more knoleged about the image of purity, he never get to get is message through but talks to David instead. This can also be proven when David thinks to himself “Clearly there must be a mistake somewhere. Surely having one very small toe extra — well, two very small toes, because I supposed there would be one to match on the other foot — surely that couldn’t be enough to make her ‘hateful in the sight of God . . . ‘? ” (Chapter 1 end)* Here David definitely thinks something else than what he is taught but is not allowed to bring it up.

    Another example of discrimination would be when Sally and Katherine are captures“ Are they going to kill Sally and Katherine? ” (Chapter 12 middle end) They are discriminating Sally and Katherine when they have no proof that they are deviants. Being a telepathic is not a deviant when according to them, having an extra body part is a deviation. With the points above it clear that discrimination is one of the major themes in this story. The third theme in the “ The Chrysalids” is punishment. This can be proven when David is punished. “I hesitated.

    I knew well enough what that meant, but I knew, too, that with my father in his present mood it would happen whether I told or not. I set my jaw, and turned to go. My father followed, picking up a whip from the table as he came. ” (End of Chapter 5) This proves that punishment was allowed o live in this community. Not only this, another example of punishment in their community was “When my father was a young man 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.

    It made them careful about their purity and their prayers. My father reckoned there was a lot less trouble with mutants on account of it, and when there were any, they were burnt, like other deviations. ” (End of Chapter 9) This also proves that punishment was freely happning in this community with no one to oppose. A important example of punishment in this community would be when Katherine and Sally were getting tortured. “hey’ve broken Katherine. They’ve broken her. . . Oh, Katherine, dear . . . you mustn’t blame her, any of you. Please, 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 . . . ‘ Her thoughts dissolved into shapeless distress. ”( Middle Of Chapter 12 )Here Katherine and Sally are getting punished for being a deviant yet to people of Waknuk have no proof of the real image themselves. With all the proofs provided above it can be said the survival is vital in this community, people are getting discriminated, and punishments allowed to thrive. In this stories about the old people. But were any other “city” other than the Sealand people’s city that survived. – Sharleen Dhaliwal

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