Why can't David tell anyone that Sophie has 6 toes in The Chrysalids?

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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David cannot tell anyone that Sophie has six toes because she and her family would be expelled or killed for not conforming to the True Image.

Waknuk is a deeply religious society where laws regarding appearance are strictly enforced.  When a baby is born it has to be certified to have no birth defects.  Hiding the baby is a serious crime.  Sophie’s parents new that she would be taken from them because she had six toes on one foot, when a person should only have five.

David is puzzled by his society.  He does not understand what makes Sophie so terrible.

Clearly there must be a mistake somewhere. Surely having one very small toe extra -- well, two very small toes, because I supposed there would be one to match on the other foot -- surely that couldn't be enough to make her 'hateful in the sight of God . . .'? (ch 1)

The tyrannically dogmatic society is responding to an apocalyptic event that resulted in many people being wiped out.  In response, the people decided to live their lives strictly according to Biblical principles of what a man and a woman should look like. 

David promises to keep Sophie’s secret because he is fully aware of what would happen to Sophie and her family if he told.  He enjoys spending time with Sophie, but they never talk about it.

Not, I think, because I ever actually classified her in my mind as a Deviation, but it had to be admitted that she did not quite qualify as a true image, so it seemed more tactful to avoid that aspect. (ch 4)

Unfortunately, Sophie is spotted with David.  Everyone knows everyone, so it is easy to see something is wrong.  David’s father beats him until he tells who she is, and she and her family are expelled to the Fringes.

David feels terribly guilty about Sophie and his part in her expulsion.  He understands that his community is harsh and wrong, and he himself has a secret.  He does not fit the True Image either—he is telepathic.

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