The Chrysalids

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  • Topic: Human, Toe, Thought
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  • Published : April 3, 2005
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The Chrysalids, by John Wyndham

Background: John Wyndham, born in 1903, tried more than four careers before starting to write short stories in 1925. The Chrysalids was written in 1955.

Outline of the Book: Thousands of years after our time, the world faced something known as Tribulation, when civilization was almost completely wiped out and had to be started over, with new rules and laws. Humans beings born as "deviants", missing an attribute that normal humans would have, is considered a blasphemy towards God. David, a young man whose father is in charge of seeking out deviants in his community, discovered that he, along with a few other young adults, can communicate to one another through their minds and what they call "thought shapes". For a long while they've hidden their secret talents, but as rules get tighter and tighter they know it's only a matter of time until they're discovered.

Theme(s): tolerance, religion

Criticisms (Unfavourable): Near the end of the book the dialogue becomes more rhetorical than the rest of the book. This isn't really a problem, but can become slightly confusing at times. The best option would be to read this part slowly and carefully in order to understand what the message is.

Criticisms (Favourable): Very original, intelligent plot. Well-written characters that aren't two dimensional and who make human decisions (David's father, who may seem like a cruel man but who is really just doing what he was brought up to believe is right).

Comparison: "The House of the Scorpion", "The Stepford Wives" (book) These two books also deal with people who are not as "real" as typical human beings, such as robots or clones

Quotations: "Clearly there must be a mistake somewhere. Surely having one very small toe extra—well, two very small toes, because I supposed there would be one to match on the other foot—surely that couldn't be enough to make her ‘hateful in the sigh of God…'?" This quote, on page 14 at the end of the...
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