In John Wyndham's The Chrysalids, is David's reward at the end worth all that he has to go through? Support with examples.

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In John Wyhdham's novel, The Chrysalids, David's reward far exceeds what he must go through.

In this story, anyone who has an irregularity of a physical nature (such as Sophie's extra toe) is considered an abomination to God. In the fanatical society of Waknuk, human beings are killed, or at least sterilized and sent into exile, struggling to survive in the Fringes— with little to survive on...a violent, dangerous existence. David learns in the story that he and his fellow telepaths are also considered mutations. It seems they may have been discovered.

Michael, another telepath, has described what they need to do to be prepared.

Don't do anything unusual, or you may cause them to pounce, on suspicion...Very likely it'll all blow over, but just in case it does get sticky, David will have to be responsible. It'll be your job, David, to see that [Petra] isn't taken for questioning—at any cost. If you have to kill someone to prevent it, then you must. They'd not think twice about killing us if they had the excuse. Don't forget, if they move at all, they'll be doing it to exterminate us—by the slow method, if not the fast.

David realizes that the threat of suffering at the least, and death at the most, stands nearby. Their hope that it will come to nothing is destroyed the next day when two telepaths are taken for questioning. David and his friends—and his sister Petra begin their journey. David hopes to lead his group beyond the Fringes, and out of the reach of the citizens of Waknuk—including his father who may be the most dangerous of them all.

In doing this, everyone must leave behind the life he/she knows. David will look at his home for the last time. The peaceful and innocent existence he has enjoyed began to disappear when he realized that people were being punished for "deformities," which were presented as evil. He knows this for a lie. However, now David is looking at losing any sense of peace he has had. He must also protect his sister. The group will have to pass the Fringes, and everyone knows that their journey will be ripe with danger.

They are taken prisoner in the Fringes. A man they meet challenges what David has been taught saying that Waknuk has tried to control the world, but life is change—and it's from God, not the the people in Waknuk teach their children.

David is concerned about how to handle their captors, while Petra keeps conversing with the "Sealand" people. Michael is not sure there are such people. If there are, will they arrive in time?

When David confronts his uncle (the "spidery-man" he had met eight years before passing through his father's property as a prisoner), he explains that he is tired of "living in hiding." We can sense David has had enough. But his uncle intends to keep Rosalind (because he wants children)—and Petra. David is thrown out of the camp, beaten up, and Sophie saves him—though she has changed. He returns to save the girls. Meanwhile, the people of Waknuk attack, and David's uncle, Sophie and his father are all killed. David and the girls escape and are rescued by the Sealand people.

Because of his feelings for Rosalind, and Petra and the others, the reward is worth the suffering. And...

...knowing that there is a place for people like us, that there is somewhere to go.

Knowing that we're not just pointless freaks—a few bewildered deviations hoping to save their own skins. It's the difference between just trying to keep alive, and having something to live for.