”The Chrysalids” by John Wyndhams
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John Wyndhams science fiction novel, ‘The Chrysalids’ is an enjoyable yet perturbing novel. In my opinion the main them o the novel is the dangers of believing political ideas are more important than individuals. It is necessary to discuss aspects of style in order to show how effective it is.
The story is about a young boy called David who finds out he has telepathic abilities. The rest of the story is al about David growing up and trying to hide his difference in a world of religious extremism.
One aspect of style the author uses to show the dangers of believing political ideas are more important than individuals is the way he uses satirisation through exaggeration. The author shows religious extremism and satirisation when Joseph Strorm was incredulously accusing David of actually wanting a third hand. A quote from the novel, which shows Josephs religious beliefs about deviations, is “you – my own son – were calling upon the devil to give you another hand.” This is a form of satirisation as it is funny to see how small a phrase can trigger such rage from Joseph.
Another part of the novel where exaggeration occurs is when people from the Fringes are caught and brought to Waknuk. David expects them to be horribly disfigured. David thinks that they would be “creatures with two heads, or fur all over or half a dozen arms or legs.” David expects them to be like this because of all the other townspeople discussing exaggerated stories about what the Fringes people look like.
Another aspect of style the author uses to convey the dangers of believing political ideas are more important than individuals is the way he uses the mood of indoctrination through religious language. An example of when indoctrination occurs is when David starts realising that the writing on the wall will affect his life. An example of this writing is “The Norm is he will of God, and reproduction is the only holy production and the devil is the father of deviation.” This conveys the main theme by describing that they should treat deviations different from ‘normal’ humans just for having a small blemish or difference.
Yet another aspect of style the author uses to show the dangers of believing political ideas are more important than individuals is he use of the first person narrative style. This shows the main theme by it conveying David’s actual feelings and this shows what the author actually feels instead of it being in the third person perspective which only assumes what the main character feels and thinks. The first person narrative style also shows confusion of the character. A example of when David is confused is at the end of chapter one when he is thinking over the definition of a deviation and he pictures them of being largely different rather than looking normal like Sophie. A quote from the chapter which shows his confusion is “surely that couldn’t be enough to make her hateful in the sight of god.” Yet another aspect of style the author uses to show the dangers of believing political ideas are more important than individuals is he way he uses characters as mouthpieces. He uses them as mouthpieces to get his views on the destruction of the earth due to nuclear war, radiation etc.
The character used mainly to show this is uncle Axel. He portrays the authors views o this subject by telling David on what he has seen or has heard from other sailors on what the badlands look like and what happens there. A quote which shows Uncle Axel conveying the authors views is ” and in some regions are known to glow dimly on a dark night.” Yet another aspect of style the author uses to show the dangers of believing political ideas are more important than individuals is the way he uses dreams in some chapters. The dreams are used to describe the indescribable when David has the dreams. When he has them he doesn’t know what the things are that he sees but the reader knows what the objects are. The objects are actually cities, motor vehicles etc. David doesn’t recognise them as he has been brought up in an environment which doesn’t have these. A quote from the book which shows he doesn’t understand what they are is “The traffic in he street was strange, carts running with no horses to pull them.” This is an effective method of style because it sows that most of the population had been wiped out due to the nuclear war. This would prevent knowledge of these machines to be passed on from generation to generation.
Another aspect of style the author uses to show the dangers of believing political ideas are more important than individuals is the way the author uses contrast to demonstrate the difference between character types and what they stand for. Two of the main characters are Joseph Strorm and Uncle Axel. Joseph Strorm stands for the religious indoctrination and thoroughly believing that anyone found to have a blemish or a difference is immediately branded a deviation and banished to the Fringes. Uncle Axel conversely, has a different approach to the situation. He believes that just because they have a small difference does not mean at they are dangerous. An example of when these characters contrast is when Uncle Axel finds David talking to Rosalind b means of telepathy. Uncle Axel is genuinely worried as to what might happen to them if they are caught. However, if Joseph was to find out he would probably condemn David and Rosalind to the Fringes or eve worse, kill them.
One final aspect of style the author uses to convey the dangers of believing political ideas are more important than individuals is the way the author uses irony to condemn the Waknuk society and also to highlight hypocrisy. One place in the novel where the author uses hypocrisy s the incident with the great horses. This was when Joseph went to complain to the inspector about his half brother having two especially large horses. He expressed his dislike of the two horses until he inspector brought up an incident where Joseph had two cats ‘killed and then burned,’ just because they didn’t have a tail.
As a result of this discussion it is obvious that John Wyndham has successfully expressed the main theme. The dangers of believing political ideas are more important than individuals shown through the aspect of style. From the mood of indoctrination to the first person narrative style is presented effectively.