The Chrysalids

by John Wyndham

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In what ways does John Wyndham comment not only on Waknuk society, but also on our society in The Chrysalids?  

Expert Answers

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Waknuk’s philosophy is similar to the Nazis and other restrictive political groups.

The concept of discrimination based on religious principles is not new in our world.  In some areas theocracies are still extremely oppressive today.  Waknuk’s refusal to accept differences highlights the intolerance in our society.

The concept of condemnation of differences rings an historical note as well.  Waknuk was founded on the concept of purity, supposedly remaking their society in God’s image.  The concept of only accepting people who look a certain way is not new—neither is the concept of pure race.

Loyalty is a great virtue, but there is such a thing as misplaced loyalty. One day you will understand the importance of a greater loyalty. The Purity of the Race -- ' (ch 6)

This sounds very similar to Nazi propaganda.  The approach of sterilizing people and shipping them off to isolated areas of the country was also a Nazi tool.  Therefore people reading The Chrysalids today will see eerie similarities between the harsh, narrow-minded discrimination of the Waknuk people and the harsh, violent, and inexcusable treatment of Jewish people by the Nazis.

People fear what is different.  It is easy to convince people to go along with ideas, no matter how extreme, if you play on that fear.

Although it is easy to dismiss books like this as dystopian science fiction, the themes are still relevant today.  Unfortunately, since the book has been published we have not increased our tolerance on every front.  Fortunately, we have made great strides in accepting and celebrating difference and the value it brings in society in order to help us evolve—perhaps even to telepathy!




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