The rest of the story itself is intriguing.
“And any creature that shall seem to be human, but is not formed thus is not human. it is neither man nor woman. It is blasphemy against the true Image of God, and hateful in the sight of God.”
To sum up, the story is set in the distant future where human society has been wrecked by some kind of nuclear catastrophe. Our narrator is David, who lives in Waknuk, one of the towns within Labrador. The society of Labrador is ruled by strict religious ideals. With little memory of life before the catastrophe (known as Tribulation), the Labrador society believes that Tribulation was brought down by God as punishment for humanity’s sins. To maintain the “purity” of their society, any person or thing outside the norm is labelled a “Deviation” from God’s image (ie. a mutant). Deviations are either killed or exiled to the Fringes, the wild areas outside of Labrador where there are many deviations thriving. Beyond the Fringes are the Black Coasts, where nothing grows or lives at all.
At a young age, David quickly realises that he is different. He is telepathic and is able to communicate with a few other telepathic children in the nearby towns, including his cousin Rosalind. As they grow up, it becomes harder to hide their differences and they must choose whether to flee Waknuk forever.
Related Text Potential:
Area of Study: Belonging
Communities necessarily create rules of inclusiveness and exclusivity in order to create a sense of belonging
- What are the various communities within the novel, and what kind of rules of exclusion do they have?
- Despite the differences between the communities in the novel, what do their similarities indicate about human nature?
Differences and non-conformity poses a barrier to belonging
- The Chrysalids is a dystopic novel set in the future. What is the point of a dystopic novel and how does Wyndham use the genre to highlight these themes?
It was a great satisfaction to learn and know more, it helped to ease one over a lot of puzzling maters… nevertheless, it brought, too, the first taste of complications from which we would never again be free. Quite quickly it became difficult always to remember how much one was supposed to know. It called for a lot of restraint to remain silent in the face of simple errors, to listen patiently to silly arguments based on misconceptions, to do a job in a customary way when one knew there was a better way…
Other people seem so dim, so half-perceived, compared with those whom one knows their thought-shapes; and I don’t suppose ‘normals’, who can never share their thoughts, can understand how we are so much more a part of one another… And we don’t have to flounder among the shortcoming of words; it is difficult for us to falsify or pretend a thought even if we want to; on the other hand, it is almost impossible for us to misunderstand one another.
In loyalty to their kind they cannot tolerate our rise; in loyalty to our kind, we cannot tolerate their obstruction.
Knowing makes all the difference. Knowing that we’re not just pointless freaks – a few bewildered deviations hoping to save their own skins. It’s the difference between just trying to keep alive, and having something to live for.