Punishment for Deviations and Abnormality in John Wyndham's Novel The Chrysalids
“The essential quality of life is living’ the essential quality of living is change; change is evolution; and we are part of it.” ― (Wyndham 196). John Wyndham’s Chrysalids is a novel that lacks human compassion and depicts inhumanity. In this novel, Wyndham portrays how certain characters are punished for their uncontrollable abnormalities as many do not reflect physical and mental standards for their society. Furthermore, brutal behavior towards children, life in a controlled community and prevention of deviants are examples of how inhumane The Chrysalids can be.
The Chrysalids is an inhumane novel as it portrays brutal behavior towards a young girl, Sophie. To begin, Sophie’s mother realizes that Sophie will not be treated normally and be recognized as blasphemy in Waknuk if her secret of six toes is revealed. “If anyone were to find out, they’d be terribly unkind to her” (Wyndham 12). Therefore, Sophie’s family is very cautious about Sophie’s toes as they do not want her to be discriminated by others. Throughout the novel, even though Sophie is not at fault, she faces insults due to her abnormality when her secret becomes unknowingly revealed. “Blasphemies are not treated the same” (Wyndham 55). Regardless of Sophie’s physical abnormality, she is not different in any other way. Thus, physical abnormalities are not something to be punished as it is portrayed in this inhumane novel.
The Chrysalids portrays inhumanity in a way that living life in a controlled community makes physically and mentally abnormal people feel neglected. To begin, David Strorm is abnormal in the Waknuk society as he can communicate telepathically. “To be any kind of deviant is to be hurt – always” (Wyndham 167). Moreover, although he is not physically abnormal, he is still punished, sent to the Fringes, and was not allowed to express his emotions. Furthermore, instead of punishing deviants, taking consideration of abnormalities in a positive way could change the future. For example, David remarks “What comprehension can ‘normals’ have of ‘thinking together’ so that two minds are able to do that one cannot?” (Wyndham 93). Unfortunately, since Waknukians do not consider change, David feels that inhumanity altered his thoughts and made him closed minded as he was terrified of the consequences he would face if he thought change was better. Therefore, The Chrysalids is an inhumane novel as it punishes those who seek change and those who are physically and mentally abnormal.
Inhumanity in The Chrysalids is brutal as not only those who are born abnormally are banished, but risks of deviants being born are prevented. To begin, being a representative of Waknuk’s belief system, Joseph Strorm wants physical purity and is determined in persecuting abnormalities. The Definition of Man states, “Man should have one body, one head, two arms….” (Wyndham 10). Furthermore, anyone who deviates from The Definition of Man is sent away and sterilized so more Deviations are not born. To imply, Sophie says, “Why didn’t they kill me? It would’ve been kinder than this…” (Wyndham 167). Sophie explains to David that being killed would’ve been better than being sterilized. It is extremely inhumane to take away a gift of being able to produce new life. Consequently, The Chrysalids is a brutally inhumane novel as abnormalities are not accepted and prevented for the better of the Waknuk society.
In conclusion, The Chrysalids is a novel that depicts inhumanity as characters are punished for their uncontrollable abnormalities that do not reflect physical and mental standards for their society. Ferocious behavior, life in a restrained society and prevention of deviants are examples of how inhumane this novel is. It is shameful that people with abnormalities suffer from inhumanity and discrimination in today’s age. This should not be tolerated, and stronger actions must be made.
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