The Chrysalids Study Guide

The Chrysalids

The Chrysalids by John Wyndham

Six years after the death of Harriet, David is one day working out in the fields and he suddenly feels an unstoppable need to run, urgent and unlike anything he has ever felt before. The mental cries are painful and persistent and continue until he reaches a river where his youngest sister Petra is about to drown. He successfully saves her and Rosalind also arrives. She also felt the cries and states that the calling was stronger than anything any of them are capable of. Upon their return they are questioned by surrounding people asking how they could have possibly known what had happened to Petra. They claim that her cries of distress were perfectly audible to anyone and that they are surprised no one had heard them. That night, David has terrible dreams of a purging ceremony where the deviation to be killed this time is not a crop or animal or even Sophie but David sees his sister Petra at the hands of her father. The next morning David desperately tries to contact his sister through thought shapes but is unable to. He attributes this to her being so young and unaware of her ability and convinced that the only reason that she was able to make such a cry of distress was because she was in a position of such intense danger. David considers openly telling her but decides against it because it would only make him more vulnerable to discovery and that he could tell her when she is older. This recent development is still very unsettling. David has felt a sense of impending misfortune for some time now. He refers to last year when there was an uncommonly high deviation level his father alone had lost 3 fields as had Angus Morton a persistent rival of Joseph’s. It is said that there were a total of 35 field burnings due to Deviations. David recalls getting an earful from Old Jacob a villager who has seen his share of years. Old Jacob attributes this recent hike in imperfections to corruption in government and carelessness of the youth. He believes that the changes are the early beginnings of a new age Tribulation. This heightens David’s self-awareness and intensifies the need to be secretive the logic being that with things going wrong, people will have a keep eye for scapegoats for imperfection. This anxiety is slowly abated over time untilthey discover that Anne, one of the people who can send thought shapes like David, plans to marry.

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