How does David Strorm change throughout the novel The Chysalids?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

David Strom changes throughout the novel as he embraces his special gift and matures into a responsible young man.

At the beginning of the novel, David accepts his world’s unusually restrictive policies.  He lives in fear, first for himself and then for Sophie.  Sophie has six toes, and therefore is not certified.  Her family keeps her hidden, until David meets her one day. 

When he realizes she has a mutation, he worries for her.  David has heard about mutations since he was very young , but he has never seen one.

The commandments and precepts one learns as a child can be remembered by rote, but they mean little until there is example -- and, even then, the example needs to be recognized. (ch 1)

From this day on, David realizes, he changes his attitude.  He begins to see that mutations are not monsters.  Ironically, David himself has a mutation.  His cannot be seen, so they are mostly safe.  However, there is still danger.

There were bad moments, of course; the careless remark that raised some eyebrows, the note of impatience towards those one should respect, the incautious suggestion; but the missteps were few, for the sense of danger now lay closer to the surface in all of us. (ch 8)

David’s realization that his entire society is wrong comes as quite a shock.  As he gets older, he almost shares a consciousness with the other telepaths.  They solve problems together, and interpret the world together.  Eventually, they have to flee together.  David does not hesitate.  He loves Rosalind, and knows he has to protect Petra.  He goes as soon as the danger is recognizable.

By having David as narrator, the reader is able to awaken to the society at the same time he does.  He grows and comes of age, and begins to understand.  The reader takes this journey with him, and this deepens our understanding of his transformation and gives us faith in his new society.

rogal eNotes educator| Certified Educator

At the beginning of the story, David is a small boy of about ten years old. He has been taught the religious laws of the land, has memorized them, but does not understand them fully. This is why when he sees Sophie’s six toes it does not immediately dawn on him that she is a deviation. As small as he is, he knows how to make and keep promises. He makes a promise to Sophie’s parents not to talk about her six toes to anybody. He also makes a promise to his Uncle Axel not to talk about his group of thought talkers to anybody.

Later on, when his Aunt Harriet commits suicide for bearing a mutant child, David learns what it really means to be a deviation. He also learns that he and his seven thought talking friends are actually deviations, as their thought talking set them apart from the rest. The thought talkers then become more aware of the dangerous position they all are in. Years later, when Petra, David’s sister, is added to the group, David takes on the role of “father” and mentor for the little girl who has extra strong telepathic senses. He teaches her how to manage her telepathic skills for the overall good of the group. This proves useful later, when David, Rosalind, and Petra are forced to flee Labrador after the information that they are deviations reaches others. Petra is able to use her enhanced thought talking skills to get help from Sealand. At this point, David has matured into a young man able to fend for himself and the two others in his care.