The Chrysalids Comparison
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Uncle Axel and Joseph Strorm, very contrasting characters in the novel, are compared by their personalities and their relationship with David Strorm. Joseph Strorm is a very dogmatic and detached man in the way he acts towards his son, David, and others in the town of Waknuk. In the novel, Joseph appears to be a very strict man who has no compassion and no positive influence on David’s life. In chapter three, David injuries his hand with a splinter and he says that if he had a third arm he could manage fine. His father, revolted, said “You blasphemed boy. Pray, you wretched boy for a forgiveness you do not deserve.”(27) This shows how uncompassionate Joseph is, because instead of helping his son when he was hurt and bleeding, he scolded David for what he had said and sent him away in disgust and anger.
Because of Joseph’s believes that God was punishing humanity with mutations, he is very radical on his views, to the point that even an irreverent comment made by his son can make him to overreact. He believed that his son committed a major sin, because for someone who was blessed to be born in the ‘Image of God’, wanting a deviational body was beyond acceptance and understanding. Joseph is critical and radical in his views and even the smallest “imperfection”such as a birth mark, is a reason for destruction as he believed it is an aberration. Anything that he considers to be a deviation, even animals and plants, cannot live because it is believed to be the work of the Devil. He has very strict views and will not compromise in any circumstance, even when it related to a healthy but overgrown animal or when it relates to family member. For instance, when Aunt Harriet shows up at their doorsteps with a baby, Joseph says,
“Shame on you woman! Go home in humility… then do your penances that you may be cleansed. Not only have you blasphemed by producing a false image, but in your arrogance you have set yourself against the law”(72). Joseph reveals that he has no empathy towards others, even family members, and shows that he will do anything to keep the human race as what he perceives as “pure and right”. He believes that if he lets even the smallest deviations flourish, they will pollute and spread to others and soon everyone would turn into an abomination. His radical attitudes come from his believes that he is protecting the human race and following God’s wishes, but still they are destructive and turns his son away from him. Mr. Strorm is a man who is well beyond reason and these points show that he is not a positive role model to David.
David is afraid of his father. He needs protection and understanding but he cannot find it in his father because he may be perceived as an aberration as well. Since David cannot count on his father for compassion and support, he goes to his best friend among the grown-ups which is his Uncle Axel. In contrast to Joseph, Uncle Axel is a very good man who is open-minded and understanding of David’s abilities. David can trust him openly and tell him everything without the fear of being judged or punished. Uncle Axel was the first to know about David’s telepathic abilities. He has very different views than Joseph, in a way that he has more critical thinking to question the radical beliefs of the community. He teaches David and makes David see that what he is taught is not necessarily right and to be different is a good thing. David wanted to be normal and live a life without his telepathic abilities and Uncle Axel comforts him by saying the pure truth. “Nobody really knows what is the true image.
They all think they know, just as we think we know, but for all we can prove the Old people themselves may not have been the true image.” (64) Uncle Axel questions and thinks independently of the Waknuk people. At some point he even wonders if David and those who have these special gifts aren’t actually closer to the image of God, and if the telepathy isn’t actually a gift from God. David goes to Uncle Axel for guidance and help whenever he needs it and sees that what he says makes sense even when he has his own doubts. When David informed his uncle about his gift he was glad to know that his uncle was not only understanding of his gift, but also very protective of him and his friends. He told David to keep it a secret and to warn the other people David communicated with because he knew if anyone found out, they would be in grave danger.
Axel is accepting towards the fact that David is different and in general to the fact that not everything is as it says in books and preachings. Comparing to his father, if David had told Joseph about his abilities, it is obvious that major negative consequences would occur to David and the others. Uncle Axel was discussing about the Fringes when he gave a very brief response and David says, “it was the sort of uninformative answer my father would have given… I was disappointed to have it from Uncle Axel.”(57) This shows that Daniel has Uncle Axel as such a positive role model, that even a minor similarity with his father’s behaviour is a reason for disappointment, as he would not expect such an amazing man as his Uncle to give a response that was “uninformative”.