Can someone briefly tell me what is happening in Chapter 15 and cross reference the chapter to another relevant chapter to show comparison in Wyndham's The Crysalids. I don't really understand...

Can someone briefly tell me what is happening in Chapter 15 and cross reference the chapter to another relevant chapter to show comparison in Wyndham's The Crysalids

I don't really understand chapter 15.

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter 14, David, Petra and Rosalind are captured by the Fringe people. David discovers his Uncle Gordon who was exiled as a child to the Fringes for a "deviation." Gordon and the other Fringe people decide to keep Petra and Rosalind for "breeders" so they can reproduce as most of them were, like Sophie when she was exiled, rendered infertile to prevent reproduction of deviations. Gordon tells David to comply with the decision and orders him out to the wilderness where, to prove Gordon's point, he is beaten close to death.

Chapter 15 shows David regaining consciousness and finding himself being dragged over the ground. He realizes it is Sophie who is dragging him. Through a complicated structure of motivation, Sophie has decided to try to save the life of her old friend--her only Waknukian friend--and the lives of Petra and Sophie. Her motive for saving them is contradictorily steeped in jealousy and animosity as well as bitterness. This is why it is a complicated motivation since it leads to doing good rather than to revenge. The basis is that Sophie, who is infertile, loves Gordon, David's uncle with the spider-like deviation. Since she is infertile, she has no real chance of his love because she cannot give him the children he (very questionably) wants: this is why he keeps Petra and Sophie. In an act of reverse retaliation, she chooses to rid the Fringe of Sophie and Petra so that she herself may have a clear chance with Gordon. Because of her friendship with David, she chooses to get rid of them by helping him get them out of the Fringe alive.

[Sophie]: His name is Gordon. He's kind to me, David. He's fond of me. You've got to have as little as I have to know how much that means.

One reason this chapter may be confusing is because of the complicated twist in Sophie's motivations. On the one hand, readers would not expect her, perfect but for the sixth toes, to love the spider-like Gordon; yet she does. Readers would not expect her animosity to extend to her one and only friend, David, but it does. Readers would expect her jealousy of healthy, fertile women but would not expect her method of eliminating them to be freeing them and helping them escape. Nonetheless, when it is all sorted out in clear order like this, her motivation makes more sense because of (1) Wyndham's point of inclusive acceptability and (2) her deep friendship for David that survives beneath the bitterness and resentment.

An earlier chapter that in some ways parallels Chapter 15 is Chapter 5 in which David, being aware of Sophie's six toes, tries to protect her from Allan and from the horror of deviation purging. Being much younger and therefore weaker (mentally and physically), his efforts did not come off as successfully as Sophie's later efforts, though his desire and intent were identical: he was trying to protect and help a friend. The chapters also show the development of their friendship over time.

[David]: I kicked over the jar. A cascade of water and struggling shrimps poured down the rock, obliterating the footprint, but I knew, with a sickly feeling, that the harm had been done.