The Chrysalids – Chapter 1

  • meet the main character, David Strorm
  • the story told in first-person narrative
  • helps us understand his feelings and thoughts
  • Also raises questions for the reader such as Sophie’s six toes are unusual but why such a strong response from her mom? Why does Mary tell David not to share his dream? What is David’s curious understanding of Rosalind?
  • the Old People probably come from a civilization similar to our own
  • Sophie’s six toes suggest radiation therefore Tribulation is probably a nuclear holocaust
  • the bank that David follows seems quite like an abandoned railroad
  • David’s society is obsessed with normality. David is able to recall religious statements from memory at the age of ten.
  • the women wear crosses, which suggests a strong, fundamental religion
  • David seems normal and friendly although he can read people’s minds or at least sense what they are feeling
  • We have an idea of his home life because he comments that the Wender home is friendlier than our own.
  • Sunday precepts: rules to guide or direct human behavior
  • Definition of Man: the religious definition  of a normally formed being as David’s society believed it to be
  • blasphemy: by the terms of David’s society, a malformed human being

The Chrysalids – Chapter 2

  • a straightforward chapter whose purpose is to answer some of the questions raised in the first chapter
  • government in Rigo. Waknuk, while settled, is not totally free from danger, with the Fringes and the Wild Country being nearby
  • David’s people and certainly his father has an obsession with the purity of life forms
  • Their destruction of every deviant form is a bad sign for Sophie and the fact that David’s father is the leader of all of this adds some suspense.
  • the setting suggests a parallel with what we would know as the late seventeenth to the early nineteenth century

The Chrysalids – Chapter 3

  • Sophie and David’s debate about airplanes and other odd machines gives us an idea of who the Old People are.
  • Joseph Strorm is further revealed as a man to be feared.
  • John Wender regrets that David Strorm, of all people, shares Sophie’s secret
  • Joseph’s reaction during the “splinter incident” demonstrates how violently he feels about the deviations.
  • It’s during the “splinter incident” that the author begins to satirize David’s society in general.
  • that the idle comment of a young boy should arouse such a rage makes the Strorm religion look somewhat foolish
  • Joseph seems to be quite narrow-minded by nature and made worse by his religious belief

The Chrysalids – Chapter 4

  • David first learns, although he doesn’t fully understand why, that he must never reveal his strange ability to communicate using thought patterns.
  • Axel is shown to be understanding, kind and broad-minded while Joseph is shown to be a dangerous, self-righteous begot, capable of operating outside the law in his fight to clear out deviations.
  • The strange look alike prisoner from the fringes may explain Joseph’s anxiousness to rid the country of deviations.
  • Maybe there is a non-religious reason for Joseph’s fervor as there certainly seems to be a connection between the two men.
  • Angus Morton’s great horses give the author another chance for satirical criticism of Joseph and the extremes of religion
  • Because these horses can do double the work of ordinary animals at less than twice the feed, it is sensible to use them, but Joseph tries to initiate a campaign against them because “they aren’t right!”
  • It is a satire of the attempt of the Waknuk religion to maintain the status quo, to stagnate the growth and natural progress of mankind.
  • Some of the last elements of the background are filled in. Things are somewhat blurry but what the reader needs to know is that the story takes place in what used to be called Labrador and that David’s world is gradually pushing back the frontiers and barbarism created by Tribulation.

The Chrysalids – Chapter 5

  • We learn more about David through his actions. He keeps very cool when Alan Ervin arrives  and shows quick thinking by spilling water on the footprint
  • he shows courage when he tackles Alan but later shows his younger age by failing to hold back his tears when the Wenders leave
  • alone at the Wenders cottage, he is terrified
  • when he cries after Joseph beats him, he cries tears of self-disgust and humiliation
  • Overall, he is shown to be strong and capable which are factors he will need if his society should ever ‘discover’ him.
  • as mentioned earlier, Waknuk had been enjoying a ‘good season’, thus the irony in Sophie’s discovery
  • it is also sad to see the Wenders leave for such a pathetic reason
  • The inspector is shown to be humane while David’s father is the greatest threat although the inspector will have to do his job if David is discovered.

The Chrysalids – Chapter 6

  • Uncle Axel acts like a mouthpiece for the author’s own commentary on the belief and behavior of Waknuk
  • We find out that the Definition of Man is from  Repentances and not the Bible therefore there is no way of knowing what the True Image of God is
  • the people of Waknuk resist change and hunt down deviations without fully realizing that there is no proof of what actually is normal
  • Their sin, as far as Axel is concerned, rests not only in the fact that they do not think about their situation but, also, in the fact that they will not let themselves think about it.
  • the people of Waknuk could, themselves, be deviations, and their unthinking certainty that they are right upsets Axel
  • discoveries of Marther, an explorer of the lands to the south of Waknuk
  • again, the author is making fun of Waknuk because Marther has discovered a truth, that the Fringes can be made fertile and be reclaimed
  • but, because this run counter to the beliefs of Waknuk society, there is agitation for a ban on further exploration
  • above all, Axel’s explanations open David’s eyes to the truth about deviation and normalcy
  • David, who tends to be open-minded anyway, is given real food for thought
  • somewhat ironic that David’s telepathic associates find it difficult to agree with his acceptance of Sophie
  • Although they are deviates, they are so thoroughly conditioned to believe the True Image that they cannot accept deviancy in another.
  • the inspector is kind and tries to be understanding but his weakness is that he hides behind the Definition of Man
  • David’s dream of a strange city on a big, blue bay begins to take on symbolic value. It seems to create, for him, a kind of paradise where neither deviates nor bigots exist
  • The capture of the Wenders, Axel’s explanations and warnings, and Joseph’s unreasonable fury seems to point to inevitable disaster for David.
author avatar
William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team)
William completed his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in 2013. He current serves as a lecturer, tutor and freelance writer. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, walking his dog and parasailing. Article last reviewed: 2022 | St. Rosemary Institution © 2010-2024 | Creative Commons 4.0


  1. His curious understanding with Rosalind is that they are both telepaths, because Page 6 – “But the advice stuck. Without it I might have mentioned the curious understanding I had with my cousin Rosalind.” and when David is reading Mrs. Wender’s mind, he is not the least bit surprised.

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