How the Novels ‘The Chrysalids’ And ‘The Time Machine’ convey social warnings for the Human Race
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Science fiction is the genre of the books I selected, which are ‘The Chrysalids’ and ‘The Time Machine’. The titles tell a great deal about the two books, for instance they suggest the books are science fiction. The title ‘The Time Machine’ says a lot about the whole novel, as it dictates the readers’ first opinions. The title also makes the genre quite clear to the reader at the very beginning, for there are no time machines at present therefore you would expect the book to be a science fiction. Science fiction provides information referring to scientific knowledge.
The fact that it is fiction means that the novels are not real life accounts but are normally mere fantasies but not really in this case. In science fiction novels, the opinions of the authors are the main focus of the books. The novels are often used to convey social comments to the reader. Both John Wyndham, and Herbert George Wells, have quite similar views for the future of the human race, these ideas are portrayed in the individual books. John Wyndham owed the fact that his parents separated, to the idea of a split in community, whilst H. G. Wells idea was triggered in a very comparable way.
H. G. Wells’ parents, in the late 1800’s were both domestics’ servants, implying a good reason for the main social comment of the book to be about a division in society. In H. G. Wells time period, there was a vast amount of Victorian people in workhouses, possibly influencing the author to fear a power – growing division in the human race, or even a revolt. John Wyndham’s book, ‘The Chrysalids’ was written in 1955, after World War II.
This is a prime reason for the writing of this book, because people are vulnerable after major wars, and the fear of a World War III is portrayed into the book, conveying a social warning to the human race. The text by Wells highlights a time of worry and despair. John Wyndham uses a very unique style of writing, he is not one of the many science fiction writers that is simply there to amuse their readers with quite ‘wacky’ and far out inventions. Wyndham’s ideas are logical and sensible and very much a possibility for a realistic future of the human race and the World in general.
The focus point in many of Wyndham’s novels is his speculation of human nature and behaviour, which is quite different from the usual focus of science fiction authors. This concentration on the human nature and behaviour demonstrates the man’s dedication to what he believes in. This, therefore, is a good reason for Wyndham to time after time point out the hypocrisy and ignorance that are so commonly part of our social life. Wells, like Wyndham, was unique in his style. Other authors use elaborate, lengthy sentences whilst Herbert George Wells seems to stick with a very simple style without illusions, metaphors and much symbolism.
He made his style clear and precise, easy to understand yet he still managed to include serious and important issues, feelings, opinions and warnings. Well’s accuracy of his ‘scientific knowledge’ is questionable and is minimal at the best of times. Over years H. G. Wells became concerned with the fate of human society, where technology and scientific study is advancing at a rapid pace. By creating two sub-species of the future, Elois and Morlocks, Wells found a way to voice his opinion of the prejudicial behaviour carried out in our social life, very similar to Wyndham’s view of an ignorant and hypocritical society.
The Chrysalids’ contains a very clear social warning about discrimination and prejudice, which is present in a great proportion of the community we live in. There is a main plot to capture a group of apparently abnormal youngsters, who are in turn trying to escape the clutches of discrimination and prejudice. These youngsters have superior powers to the supposed perfect ‘Definitions of Man’, as described by God. “And any creature that shall seem to be human, but is not formed thus is not human. It is neither a man nor a woman.
“It is a blasphemy against the true Image of God, and hateful in the sight of God. This is exactly the prejudice that is contained throughout society, that just because someone is different from someone else, they can’t be normal and have to be incorrect therefore punished in some manner. This punishment in Waknuk, the area in which the novel was situated, meant whoever crossed this image, therefore a deviation, was exiled to the Fringes, or the Badlands. The plot was that the society of Waknuk had survived a nuclear war. The people had, however, only a dim memory of that period and refer to it as Tribulation, a time during which mankind had to pay for its sins.
Only the war that happened a long time ago, radiation still contaminated the living world outside the small community. Whenever any evidence of contamination is found within Waknuk, the inhabitants immediately eliminate the offending plant, animal, or person. The story centres around the narrator, David Strorm, his small group of friends who all possess telepathic powers, and David’s sternly religious family. As a child, David had learned the strict morality of his society: “Watch Thou for the Mutant,” “The Norm is the Will of God,” and “The Devil is the Father of Deviation.
This all meant that any living things – plant, animal, or man – had to be reported as soon as it was discovered to be deviant. David’s father, Joseph Strorm, was considered by the inhabitants of Waknuk to be a leader in the vigorous pursuit of deviations from the norm. Waknuk, though, was relatively fortunate, because it was situated in Labrador, far away from the major centres of nuclear war – the Badlands – further to the south. Since God had sent Tribulation down upon the Old People, mankind had been struggling to return to the level of civilisation that the Old People had enjoyed.
Because the past generations of Waknuk had been very careful, the community was now fairly free of deviations that were the result of Tribulation. Any that did appear were destroyed or, in the case of deviant humans, banished to the Fringes country that lay towards the south, south-east, and south-west of the district. At the beginning of the story David meets Sophie Wender and discovers that she is a physical deviant with six toes on each foot. Both she and her family are forced to flee. They are captured and banished to the Fringes. David finds it difficult to ‘come to grips’ with the laws of his society with his own conscience.
This problem is made bigger still when he sees his aunt driven to suicide because she has given birth to a deviant baby. David is concerned for his own personal safety when he realises that he and his group of abnormal telepathic friends are also deviants, because their ability to communicate with each other in thought forms or by mental telepathy is not compatible with Waknuk’s idea of the “true image. ” Although they manage to disguise their deviation, the birth of David’s little sister, Petra, causes mass problems. Because she is still an infant, she is unable to control her powers.
An incident occurs in which she, David and his sweetheart, Rosalind, are found out. They are declared deviates and outlaws, and are forced to flee to the Fringes, where the people of Waknuk, including David’s own father pursue them. In the Fringes the deviate inhabitants there capture them. All this time, Petra has kept, through her awesome telepathic powers, in touch with a distant civilisation in New Zealand (Sealand). These people, who are all telepathic, rescue the fugitives right in the middle of a battle between the Waknuk and Fringes people. David, Petra, and Rosalind escape per helicopter to New Zealand.
This deeply emphasised the moral of the story really, and conveyed the social warnings for the Human Race very well. The ‘Time Machine’ has numerous social concerns and warnings for the Human Race. The views of H. G. Wells are expressed and shown in a very similar manner to John Wyndham. Both books show how one became two, as one main species in the past was then gradually split into two sub-species Morlocks and Elois, norms and deviations. The novel, ‘The Time Machine’ began in the house of the Time Traveller. He says to a group of people that it is possible to travel through time.
The group of people didn’t believe him, so he showed them a working model of the Machine. He made it disappear into the future. There was not a great deal of depth describing the mechanism of the machine; this could indicate the lack of scientific knowledge of Herbert Wells in comparison with other science – fiction authors, even though he himself was a scientist! The next week the group of people returned. They couldn’t find the Time Traveller. After a while he came, and said he had been travelling through time. He then told his story, which was the novel. At first the time moved a bit faster than normal.
He could see someone entering the laboratory very quickly. Then the time started to move more quickly. The laboratory disappeared. When he stopped the machine, he was in a type of garden in a New World, which was 802701. The New World that the Time Traveller stumbled upon was straight away examined by the Time Traveller and the first thing the man noticed which emphasised the point a great deal, was that the human race was split into two parts, the Eloi and the Morlocks. The Eloi firstly saw him, and they found him interesting. He was taken to a building and could eat, showing this species friendliness which they showed back.
When they lost interest he discovered his Time Machine is missing. He believed it was put in a White Sphinx (A rather large white statue), but before he could find the Time Machine he rescued a little female Eloi, Weena. She appreciated it and followed him everywhere. He discovered vaguely how the world worked. During the time he was in the forest with Weena. They were suddenly surrounded by Morlocks, showing there beastliness and cruelty, and it was getting late, emphasising how scared little Weena and the Time Traveller were becoming. He had built a campfire. He only escaped because the forest was burning, but he lost Weena.
The Time Traveller went to the White Sphinx and started destroying it. He could now enter it and he saw his beloved Time Machine. When he approached it he discovered it was a trick to get him there by the evil Morlocks. Quickly he jumped in the Time Machine and disappeared. He stopped 30 million years later. The earth had completely changed and all intelligent creatures had disappeared. All this shows how drastic Wells’ ideas are, showing that he thinks the split will just keep on increasing with time, until all species are destroyed. Then he returned to our time.
The Time Traveller told the group of people of his epic story, and left them to believe it if they wanted to. He himself wasn’t even sure of it himself anymore. The next day someone from the group returned. The Time Traveller told him to wait. When the visitor wanted to tell to the Time Traveller he had to go, the Time Traveller and his Machine had gone. Both themes are similar and the social warnings are clear and precise. The books contain many similarities and differences as I have indicated in the following. There are similarly two main species in ‘The Chrysalids’ as there were in ‘The Time Machine’.
There is the supposedly correct image, being the humans, who work and live a normal healthy life but constantly fear an attack by the deviations, who work extremely hard to live in the dark areas with not much food and terrible conditions and there are the Morlocks and the Elois. The deviations are ‘The Time Machines’ equivalent to the Morlocks who live in dark conditions underground and work hard to survive, where the humans are the equivalent to the Elois, who live happily in a normal healthy environment but petrified of an attack by the Morlocks.
Both sets, the Morlocks and the Elois, the humans and the deviations, despise each other, which supplies another similarity. ‘The Time Machine’ and ‘The Chrysalids’ are different in that ‘The Time Machine’ is implicit and ‘The Chrysalids’ is explicit but they are both saying much the same thing about the way the community is travelling, that being apart. ‘The Chrysalids’ is showing the distinct separation of abnormal looking people from the supposed true image of God, and the ‘The Time Machine’ represents the separation of Capitalist and Labour.
The characters in ‘The Chrysalids’ have strong beliefs and personalities, but ‘The Time Machine’ is in fact the opposite. The Elois were at one time afraid of the Morlocks until the Time Traveller came along, but before that both species had lost this ability of strong beliefs. The belief returned temporarily nevertheless when Weena for one stood up for what she believed in, just like what the majority of the humans do to prevent abominations within their society. The two books although very similar in many places also entail an inevitable amount of differences, for one the language is notably different.
The Time Machine’ contains a lot of specialists’ knowledge especially when the group were discussing a fourth dimension “There are really four dimensions, three which we call three planes of Space, and a fourth, Time……….. because it happens that our consciousness moves intermittently in one direction along the latter from the beginning to the end of our lives. ” Whilst ‘The Chrysalids’ it would seem contains no apparent such knowledge. I believe it is mainly this language barrier that separates the books apart, because there is an evident movement in time in ‘The Time Machine’ which is not the case ‘The Chrysalids’.
The way in which the thoughts are transferred are different, ‘The Chrysalids’ portrays this information through emotions which is good because it captures the reader, but the way that ‘The Time Machine’ explains the thoughts is detailed and descriptive, that also captures the reader. There are many social warnings for ‘The Chrysalids’ the main one is plain obvious, and there have been many examples of it too. Waknuk society will banish from their society anything that is not made in their concept of the true image, reminds me of World War II, when six million Jews were killed.
Also in David Strorm’s society, despite its great concern for the True Image, allows the great-horses to be introduced into their society. Although they are obviously not normal, for the sake of the profit of the True Image can be ignored. This highlights selfishness within the community nowadays, and that the rules are not what matters but it is yourself that does, if you can use something to your own advantage then you do. Hypocrisy is shown to be a universal human condition and the people of Waknuk are no different from us.
As the Sealand lady points out, evolution cannot be denied and the chrysalid cannot be stopped in its development to the next stage. The Waknuk society’s anti-intellectualism, which tries to put a stop to both logic and imagination, and its efforts to deny evolution, are doomed to be a dead end. But criticism can take a more cruel form, such as Sophie’s fate, or Aunt Harriet’s suicide. Their stories introduce a sense of helpless frustration for they point out not only the foolishness of the Waknuk philosophy but, also, the stupidity of trying to defeat it.
Uncle Axel, acting as the mouthpiece of the author, supplies the most accurate portrait, for he tells David that every group of people he has seen in his travels thinks that the True Image is themselves. No one, he points out, could ever be sure that the True Image is right, for it comes from Nicholson’s Repentances, written after Tribulation. Another example of mankind’s deterioration is the fact that the Eloi have not preserved any culture. Everything once accomplished has wasted away or is in the process of doing so.
The Eloi are able to show the time traveller their collection books, but one disintegrates immediately after he opens it. Therefore the Eloi simply exist for the sake of being food for the Morlocks. Any true form of work or recreation is not present because of the down hill evolution of mankind. The Morlocks, on the other hand, do exercise a certain amount of work, but I could hardly classify it as occupational. Having evolved into monster-like creatures, the Morlocks, who first began to inhabit the underground caverns during nuclear winter, must ensure the survival of the Eloi to meet their own needs as food.
They accomplish this by nourishing the Eloi with meals. The Morlocks are able to summon the Eloi with a siren that prompts the passive beings to flock to their underground lair (the Eloi are conditioned to respond in such a way, for it was common practice during the atomic age, and the Morlocks now use it to their advantage). Consequently, the Eloi become prisoners. The efforts of the Morlocks are terrifying and seemingly cannibalistic, but their practices reflect the competition of a rival species and a natural, not necessarily evil, means of survival.
As the time traveller himself puts it, The Morlocks treat the Eloi like “cattle. ” Ultimately, the points that the Eloi are inactive and the Morlocks savagery signifies the decline of man and therefore are a serious social warning for the future. The story shatters the belief that humanity will evolve for the better. Everything man knows in the present, such as morality and common sense, does not apply in the year 802,701 AD. Mankind’s ancestors have resulted in two different species, which have considerably declined in intelligence; the rulers of the earth have turned to survival of the fittest.
Work and entertainment are an indication of how these beings have evolved. Many things are accounted for in the two books and should be thought about seriously. The issues raised are happening around us and both, John Wyndham and H. G. Wells believe the future will just get worse, hence the reason for writing the novels and conveying the social warnings. We, as the society, must not be judgmental, hypocritical and any other prejudicial way as shown especially in ‘The Chrysalids’.