Many people in the 1950s and the 1960s thought that the end of the world was just around the corner. How does author John Wyndham reflect on the concept of the end of the world throughout his novel...

Many people in the 1950s and the 1960s thought that the end of the world was just around the corner. How does author John Wyndham reflect on the concept of the end of the world throughout his novel The Day of the Triffids?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Due to the plot and events in the story, it's easy to see how John Wyndham's novel The Day of the Triffids, published in 1951, reflects the common view in the 1950s and 60s that the end of the world was just around the corner. More specifically, it's easy to see that the author even predicts the end of the world will be mankind's own doing.

One aspect of the story that helps prove the author predicted the end of the world would be man's doing concerns the triffids in the story. The protagonist Bill Masen was a biologist who had a background in working with triffids. Triffids were tall, poisonous, meat-eating plants that contained plant oils more beneficial than vegetable oils. Masen suspected the Soviet Union of bioengineering triffids and accidentally letting them loose in the wild. Hence, it is the development, release, and procreation of triffids that led to the end of the world.

An event that also helps signify the author's perspective on the end of the world concerns the unusual green meteor shower that occurs one night. Masen believes the meteor shower was actually weapons put in orbit that were set off accidentally. Interestingly, the meteor shower causes blindness in anyone who looks at the falling meteors.

The creation of blindness helps illustrate Wyndham's theme concerning mankind's stupidity and inability to adapt. Mankind has very foolishly surrounded itself with more and more advances without knowing anything of the consequences; mankind has become "blind" to the consequences. What's more, mankind has become so reliant on man-made technology that mankind has become unable to adapt to any major catastrophes. The literal blindness of the characters puts them in a position to become dominated by the triffids, which are already superior to the humans because they have already adapted to having no eyes. The recurring motif of blindness runs throughout Wyndham's novel, underscoring his theme of mankind's weakness, as we see when the protagonist reflects early on, "In fact, if it were a choice of survival between a triffid and a blind man, I know which I'd put my money on" (p. 22).

Hence, according to Wyndham, it is mankind's stupidity and inability to adapt that will make the end of the world inevitable.

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