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The Chrysalids Essay

By mercybeebee Jan 03, 2014 1034 Words
The Chrysalids by John Wyndham is a book that illustrates the terrifying world that is run in the aftermath of a nuclear war. Wyndham explores the topics of dystopia, telepathy, conformity, theocracy, and eugenics from a post-WWII perspective by following the story of a boy named David and his struggle with being an outcast to a very conformist society. When the book was written, there was a very common fear of a cold war. Wyndham wrote this book depicting the sure outcome of a cold war in order to warn human beings about the sure outcome of the potential cold war, which in Wyndham’s opinion will clearly render us back to the beginning of knowledge. This book exhibit many important warnings for humankind that are not to be overlooked and should be taken into account when making decisions for the future of our world as well as daily life choices. The discrimination exhibited in this story is alarmingly relative to today’s and past’s society. Many characters in The Chrysalids commit wrongful but seemingly socially acceptable acts against living things that do not fit their society’s norm, or in other words, are considered deviations. In addition to this, people who are attempting to protect a blasphemy are discriminated against, possibly due to ignorance of what it’s like to live with the looming possibility of losing a loved one. For example, when Aunt Harriet brought her blasphemous baby to her sister’s house to beg for help, Joseph Strorm said “Send her away. Tell her to leave the house – and take that with her,” (71). This clearly exhibits what is considered acceptable treatment towards deviations and those harbouring deviations. This cruelty is similar to the reality of the past and the present, where many humans are actually desensitized to the importance of living with diversity, causing them to discriminate against people who do not fit their norm. The holocaust is an example of great lengths and extremities being made to try and control the physical characteristics of the entire population in order to eliminate diversity while ultimately discriminating at the same time. The main theme of the holocaust was discrimination, which is still very relevant in today’s society and in the book The Chrysalids. Surely Wyndham is trying to convey through the actions of the political leaders and citizens of Waknuk that discrimination has lead humankind towards a holocaust and will inevitably lead us to another. During the time that the book was written, much of our society feared a looming cold war. This is something that Wyndham obviously greatly fears as well, as the major setting of the story was the area surrounding ruined land that was destroyed by nuclear bombs. The people of Waknuk have an alarmingly limited knowledge of what surrounds them. This in turn renders them completely unaware of life outside of their area and what life was like before the cold war, which causes them to develop unrealistic expectations of what life on earth should be like. The deviations are caused by the nuclear radiation that is emitted by the ruins, and it is this that ultimately destroys their society. Nuclear weapons have developed considerably since the time this book was written, and it is clear that Wyndham is warning humankind that if we keep using nuclear weapons to destroy each other (possibly in a third world war) the outcome will surely be a horrendous society that will in turn destroy each other. This warning is truly terrifying as this outcome is highly plausible. Eugenics is becoming increasingly accepted in our society today. Eugenics is also one of the main themes in the society that is portrayed in The Chrysalids. In our society today, we consider all humans children of God and there is no norm that is widely considered by all of humankind. However, this situation is almost the exact opposite in The Chrysalids. In their society, “The Norm is the Image of God,” (27). If one were to not fit into this norm, which depicted specific physical attributes that one must have, you were not accepted into society and were considered a mutant. Although the citizens of Waknuk do not have the materials to ultimately control eugenics, they do control the physical attributes of all citizens by sterilizing and banishing all citizens that do not fit within their norm. This is alarming as the physical deformities that humans may be born with were due to the nuclear radiation that was emitted from the surrounding area, and were really no fault of the human. The citizens of Waknuk were essentially ridding themselves of humans that could eventually become great assets to their society. In addition to this, they were sending away innocent humans to suffer a probable death in the fringes. Overall, they were making it acceptable for those who weren’t considered deviations to treat the helpless mutants terribly. Humankind needs to understand that controlling eugenics will ultimately lead to more discrimination, and this book serves as an important warning for humans. The warnings in this book are not to be overlooked and should be taken into account when making decisions for the future of our world as well as daily life choices. After thoroughly analysing The Chrysalids, and specifically examining the warnings that Wyndham established for humanity, I have concluded that this book sets off many warning bells that are becoming increasingly relevant in society today. Firstly, discrimination based on physical attributes plays a big part in this book as well as society today, causing many controversial issues and ultimately leading us towards a third world war. Secondly, nuclear war is a looming possibility due to our developed technology today. However, nuclear war will surely result in our world becoming a dystopian society as a lack of information will cause many people to become hungry for power. Finally, eugenics is a topic that is very controversial in today’s society. Wyndham essentially warns humankind that eugenics will prove to be a disadvantage to humankind as we will be ridding ourselves of potential assets to humankind, regardless of physical attributes, and causing more discrimination. Overall, this book sets off many important warning bells for humankind.

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