What would you say is the most iconic or important quotation or passage from The Chrysalids? Explain why.
I can't pick a single quote. I'm sorry. I had to pick two, because I feel that they are both equally important to the story and the message that it conveys.
The first quote is the following:
"The essential quality of life is living; the essential quality of living is change; change is evolution: and we are part of it."
This quote comes late in the book, almost at the very end. It is spoken by the Sealand woman, and she is explaining what is quintessentially wrong with Waknuk society. Waknuk society wants to reduce genetic variation. Genetic variation leads to changes in the fitness level of a species. Increased fitness allows a species to survive longer and in turn pass on those genetic traits. It's basic Darwin. Survival of the fittest leads to evolutionary change. The Sealand woman's quote stresses the importance of change to David, and represents a completely new way of thinking for him.
The second quote is the following:
"Why should they be afraid of us? We aren't hurting them," she broke in.
"I'm not sure that I know why," I told her. "But they are. It's a feel-thing not a think-thing. And the more stupid they are, the more like everyone else they think everyone ought to be. And once they get afraid they become cruel and want to hurt people who are different—"
The above exchange is between Petra and David. They know they are different, and Petra can't understand why they should be hunted for that difference. David's explanation is not only applicable in his situation, but it clearly demonstrates the reason for any kind of discrimination in "real life." People have a tendency to fear what is different; therefore, people tend to be cruel to things/people that are different. The quote is important because it clearly points out the key problem in Waknuk society, as well as a key problem in reality.