*Some Spoilers Within
I never imagined this book would feel timely in my older age when I first read it at 14. The Chrysalids is the perfect book to be assigned in early high school, with themes highlighting the importance of change and diversity. Who knew that the more brutal aspects of the story would rhyme with these modern times?
Due to the chaos that enveloped my early years, it is doubtful that I was aware enough to have felt the significance of its message. Troubled youth aside, there is no doubt there were students that adopted the accompanying morals John Wyndham so cleverly shared throughout its few pages.
In John Wyndham‘s YA science fiction tale, Deviations take many forms: Offences like oversized crops or an animal born with no hair, to Blasphemies such as an extra digit on the tiny appendage of a newborn babe.
Genetic mutations are classified an abomination, and as a result, all Offences are destroyed whilst any Blasphemy is sterilised and banished to the Fringes, thus to maintain the purification of the righteous land and not call upon further Tribulation.
Are those who have been robbed of their human dignity and exiled to the outskirts of Labrador to blame for things they have no control over and which hurt no one, all because the powers that be brand them as ‘blasphemous?’
I adore this quote said by our protagonist David about Rosalind, another of the fiercely brave and telepathically gifted group of teens that must work together to survive in a society that sees them as inherently evil.
In John Wyndham’s world, and ours, for many, survival breeds instinct and the strength to take on any challenge, facing rejection with the will and might of truth and conviction as an internal guide.
People don’t like confrontation, and they tolerate feeling helpless even less. Cognitive dissonance helps some ignore truth temporarily, but the pesky part is it always comes out in the end.
Unfortunately, it might be too late to mitigate its destruction once it rears its head.
I couldn’t read this quote without visions of the technocrats jockeying for position and control via The Great Reset to effectuate a New World Order.
What will it mean for civilisation to have these unelected, self-interested oligarchs orchestrate a global society as they think it ‘ought to be’ run?
Life is ever-changing, and any refusal to accept this evolutionary fact will only bring about disastrous consequences for civilisation, spiritual or otherwise.
One of the failures of the Waknuk people, and those that have been born free of Deviation, is their inability to see how they may be committing the same unforgivable sins that caused the Old People to invoke the wrath of God.
When they focus on forcefully replicating what they perceive as His image, they disallow the natural evolution of the people within their lands, inevitably devolving into destruction.
With authoritarian leadership spreading like wildfire across the Western World, the tendrils of a globalist takeover encroaching in all facets of our lives, and a resulting increased nuclear threat, this book hit a little too close for comfort almost 70 years later.
Within the theocracy of Labrador exists the Badlands, which are on the outer edges of the Fringes and, we assume, have been destroyed by radiation due to nuclear fallout, as they are black, uninhabitable, and emit a glow in the dark.
For the religiously devout, these desolate lands are a lasting reminder of the Tribulation believed to have been put forth by God upon the Old People, culminating in a reset. They exist under rigid restrictions to keep their society righteous and free from Deviation, with no place for change or acceptance of evolution.
This wholly accurate quote is by a woman from Sealand aka Zealand, a place our protagonist David had dreamt about long before he even knew what it was, as foreshadowed in the first line:
‘When I was quite small I would sometimes dream of a city—which was strange because it began before I even knew what a city was.’
Given the focus of the progressive Sealanders: only welcoming others that have the ability to be telepathically linked to their society, they seem to be effecting the same denial of natural evolution as the regressive people of Labrador.
With the mysterious woman’s comment about “the power of gods in the hands of children,” it becomes apparent that the Sealanders have knowledge of the demise beset upon the Old People. With the coolness of confidence her society persists, as they believe their ability to see each other’s thoughts will prevent such a disaster from happening to them. A profound hubris clearly matched by none other than the Waknukians’ but on the flipside; two sides of the same coin, as it were.
I’ve added this a few hours after publishing, but couldn’t resist when I saw it. Crown of Creation by Jefferson Airplane is a psychedelic rock tribute to the novel, with most of the lyrics borrowed from the text.
Do you remember any books from your educational years that left a moral and lasting impression?
Do you have a young adult post-apocalyptic fiction favourite?