"Maternal Love Is Selfless." Discuss with Reference to the Chysalids

Topics: John Wyndham Pages: 3 (947 words) Published: February 24, 2013
“A mother’s love is selfless.” With reference to one or more characters in The Chrysalids, evaluate whether this statement is true.

On the surface, several of the women in The Chrysalids appear to be devoted mothers who prove the statement true. Recalling Aunt Harriet and Martie Wender’s actions, David “[wonders] how many mothers there might be who [are] turning a blind eye towards matters that [do] not actually infringe the Definition of the True Image – and perhaps to things that [do] infringe it.” It seems that many mothers are willing to risk breaking the law in order to protect their children, thus proving that “a mother’s love is selfless.” However, closer examination of The Chrysalids will reveal that these mothers’ self-involved desire to maintain their position in society is the primary motivation for their actions, not concern for their offspring.

The law in Labrador is that Blasphemies will be sterilized and banished to the Fringes. However, we know that the government in Rigo is not a totalitarian one, as it has abolished the burning of “Blasphemies” in response to advocates who campaigned for more merciful treatment. The fact that the dehumanizing practice of labeling certain children as “Blasphemies” is still enforced by the law shows that mothers in Labrador do not violently and passionately oppose it. Rather than protect their children by pressuring the government to change the law, the women submit to the authorities. By not challenging the “Definition of Man”, the mothers protect themselves from risk, and can maintain their status in society.

Although at first glance Aunt Harriet seems the epitome of loving motherhood in the text, she actually best exemplifies my argument. Aunt Harriet’s desperate and humiliating appeal to Emily Strorm to swap babies seems to be a selfless effort to protect her child. However, in her plea for help to Emily, she says, “Henry will turn me out, I think. He'll find another wife, who can give him proper...
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