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Themes in The Chrysalids

written by: Terry Ligard • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 1/20/2012

Some of the significant themes in "The Chrysalids" include death, loss of personal freedom and punishment. Learn more about the underlying message of the novel, with examples from the text.

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    Here we explore some of the major themes in the novel, with examples from the book:

    Death:

    Alan is killed by Uncle Axel after he shoots him with an arrow. Uncle Axel suspected Alan of knowing too much about “the group“.

    Aunt Harriet kills herself by drowning. She felt that Waknuk was unfair to her.

    Anne hangs herself because Alan, her husband, was killed.

    Rosalind kills a man she suspected of following the group on their escape.

    Lack of personal freedom:

    Sophie is unable to be as free as a normal child of her age because she’s considered a blasphemy by Waknuk society.

    Uncle Axel made David promise not to mention his telepathic abilities, so no to attract unwanted attention.

    David, Rosalind, and Petra flee from Waknuk because their telepathic abilities are not what would be considered “normal” in Waknuk.

    While the Wender family were fleeing to the fringes from Waknuk, patrols did not allow them to reach their destination.

    Cruelty:

    Joseph Strorm whips his son David for concealing information about Sophie and being away from home overnight. Also, his mother does not tend to his wounds of hurt feelings.

    In the days of Old Jacob’s father, all deviations including humans, were burnt.

    Katherine was tortured with hot irons on her feet.

    Punishment:

    David is whipped by his father for concealing information about Sophie.

    Woman who gave birth to a third deviation were kicked out of their house.

    Katherine was tortured for not cooperating with interrogators.

    David was sent to his room by his father after referring to having a third arm.

    Humiliation:

    After wishing for a third arm, David was harshly reprimanded in front of a group of farmers.

    Joseph Strorm was humiliated when, upon picking the inspector’s whip, was ordered by him to put it back down.

    Aunt Harriet gave birth to a third deviation and was denounced by her sister.

    When Joseph Strorm’s brother, “Spider Man” raided Waknuk, his face drained if its color, due to humiliation of his brother being a blasphemy.

    Weather condition:

    Waknuk experienced a poor season because winds came from the south-west, bringing fumes of radiation from the Badlands.

    When Petra was eight years of age, Waknuk experienced a good season due to nice spring weather conditions.

    Kindness and compassion:

    After David was whipped by his father, Mary Strorm, his sister, tended to his wounded back.

    After being frightened at the attack of her pony in the forest, Petra was comforted by Rosalind.

    Mrs. Wender was kind to David during his visits. He felt more comfortable there than he did at home.

    The inspector was kind to David, not pressuring pr punishing him, and even gave him candy.

    Jealousy:

    Spider man is jealous of his brother leading Waknuk because it would have been his position had he not been born a blasphemy.

    Spider man is jealous that norms can have children and not the Fringe people.

    When he was young, David prayed that he become a norm and lose his special abilities. He was jealous of the easy life norms led compared to his.

    Anne is jealous that norms have the opportunity to lead normal lives by marrying and having children.

    Superstition:

    Women who are blasphemous are sterilized before being sent to the Fringes.

    The women of Waknuk wore a traditional cross on their dress.

    Waknuk occasionally underwent a purification ritual in which deviations were destroyed.

    Parents would instil fear in trouble-making children by telling them stories about Hairy Jack and Old Maggie from the Fringes.

    Does this cover everything? What where some themes you noticed while reading the novel?

The Chrysalids Study Guide

This study guide covers The Chrysalids, a unique young-adult novel set in a fantasy world.
  1. Summary of The Chrysalids by John Wyndham
  2. Themes in The Chrysalids
  3. The Chrysalids Study Questions and Answers