The Chrysalids Study Guide

The Chrysalids

The Chrysalids by John Wyndham

In the first chapter, young David Strorm is introduced. In the first paragraph he describes a recurring dream that he remembers vividly. This dream is of a magnificent city bordered by ocean, although he has never seen the sea in waking life. Once, he recalls admitting this dream to his eldest sister and inquires about the existence of any such place, to which she replies that, although this city does not exist, it may have existed long ago, before God sent Tribulation. She also warns him to suppress such thoughts, for the other people in society did not have such images in their heads either awake or asleep. Fortunately, David has the sense to take this advice seriously. Being a considerably adventurous and independent child, he ventures forth upon a high bank he often visits, which has sand slopes he much enjoys sliding down. While indulging in this pastime of his, a little girl who we come to know as Sophie inquires if what David is doing is any fun. Upon invitation, she agrees to join him in his game. Following a few entertaining slides down the dune, Sophie suddenly catches her foot in a small crevice. While her snagged foot causes her intense pain she adamantly refuses David’s suggestion to remove the shoe to facilitate the extraction of her foot. After much convincing she obliges but makes David promise not to tell anyone of what he sees. To David’s surprise, he notices that Sophie’s foot has an extra toe, but makes nothing of the fact. David helps the injured girl back to her home, where he is uneasily questioned by Sophie’s tense mother. She pleads him not to reveal Sophie’s deformity at any cost, for if people were to discover it they would be very mean to her. David agrees solemnly, sensing the severity behind Mrs. Wender's pleas. Being confused bythe seriousness of his afternoon, David wanders home in intense thought. It suddenly dawns on him the reason for which Sophie’s mother made him swear to secrecy, as the Definition of Man recites itself in his mind, "And each leg shall be jointed twice and shall have one foot and each foot 5 toes.And any creature that shall seem to be human, but is not formed thus, is not human. It is a blasphemy against the true image of God, and hateful in the sight of God." The full weight of the secret now rest heavily on David.

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