The Chrysalids Essay (stressay)

Topics: John Wyndham, Life, Religion Pages: 5 (1676 words) Published: December 29, 2013

A Hunger for Survival, A Greed for Life
Religion teaches one to fear change, or more specifically, natural succession, which occurs when an original population evolves or invades and outlives the population prior. According to Nicholas’s Repentances, a religious text worshipped in the novel, religion provides a reason for destroying or dispersing deviants as seen through the eyes of God (which includes but is not specifically limited to noticeable physical abnormalities). Such actions delay the inevitable succession of the Norms. The greed for life itself and the belief that expelling deviations of any kind (people, animals, crops) will satisfy that greed, fuels the practice of religion in the community of Waknuk. In John Wyndham’s The Chrysalids, the fear of change is provoked by religion, which is used to justify self-righteous attitude.

The importance of religion in Waknuk is introduced early in the novel, and right away it is obvious that Repentances lay strict law upon deviants and upon the community in order to destroy them. When one is in the presence of a deviant he or she is obliged to report it for the common good, otherwise the deviant will breed impurity into society and bring back Tribulation, the condemnation God had sent to remind one of His ultimate power. ‘… concealment of a Blasphemy – not reporting a human deviation – is a very, very serious thing. People go to prison for it. It is everybody’s duty to report any kind of Offence to me – even if they aren’t sure ... It’s always important, and very important indeed if it is a Blasphemy’ (Wyndham, 51). As demonstrated in this passage, the inspector, who may grant or remove normalcy certificates from the people in Waknuk, explains to the protagonist, David, the necessity to report all possible animate deviations to be inspected.

Furthermore, the inspector is not the only one who is adamant about enforcing the law, in fact he is considered too lenient in the eyes of Joseph Strorm, David’s father. Joseph mentions to the inspector, "It is easy to see why some people would approve them … that doesn’t mean that they’re right. I say a horse like that is not one of God’s creatures – and if it isn’t His, then it’s an Offence, and should be destroyed as such” (36). In this instance, Joseph is referring to horses belonging to a neighbouring farmer and a feeling of insecurity arises in him when he is in the presence of deviants. Insecurity, when in combination with religion, which already spreads the belief that deviants have no right to life as non-humans, produces the self-righteous arrogance.

Likewise, when David’s aunt comes to Waknuk bearing the news of her infant’s slight deviation, she is condemned first by Emily (David’s mother, Harriet’s sister), and then by Joseph for bringing a deviant into their home. Harriet has it in her mind that killing an infant for a very small (undefined) deviation is wrong, and so asks Emily, who has just recently given birth to a supposedly non-deviant baby, for a temporary trade in infants. A trade would allow Harriet to register her own baby as a Norm by providing Emily’s baby for inspection. This idea is rejected, and Harriet is shunned. Joseph feels it is his duty to destroy the deviant infant, but instead leaves Harriet to correct her own wrongdoing and lectures her on the expectations of God. ‘… you dared to come here, to a God fearing house … a mockery of your Maker – not ashamed of trying to tempt your own sister into criminal conspiracy! … You have sinned, woman … Your sin has weakened our defenses, and the enemy has struck through you … You have produced a defilement … A baby which … would grow up to breed, and, breeding, spread pollution until all around us there would be mutants and abominations. That is what has happened in places where the will and faith were weak … ‘ (72). Joseph Strorm also refers to himself and his family as God fearing, but they fear neither God nor God’s punishing Tribulation. Their true...
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