Throughout any childhood, one is immensely impacted by the influences brought from their peers. In many cases, this pressure can alter one’s lifestyle, in both positive and negative aspects. This exertion of pressure is widely illustrated within John Wyndham’s novel, The Chrysalids. By thoroughly analyzing protagonist David Storm’s relationships with both his father, Joseph Storm and his Uncle Axel, one can acknowledge the diverse affects that relatives can have on their life.
To begin, David Storm, in great measure, is negatively impacted by his stern father, Joseph. One example of when Joseph’s vehemence is brought down upon his son is present after David jokingly exclaims that an additional hand would assist him in completing a task. Bewildered, his father is quick to respond: “You – my own son – were calling upon the Devil to give you another hand! You blasphemed boy…Pray, you wretched boy, for a forgiveness you do not deserve” (Wyndham 26). By immediately accusing David of blasphemy, Joseph not only demoralizes his son, but manipulates him into realizing the seriousness of his father’s beliefs. Furthermore, Joseph’s influence on his son is rationalized through the following quotation: “I’ll deal with this. The boy’s lying. To me he added: Go to your room…I knew well enough what that meant…My father followed, picking up a whip from the table as he came” (51). After David refuses to reveal Sophie’s deviation, his father disciplines him by means of violence. Not only is using aggressive force to regulate your child’s behaviour immoral, but it depresses them and can diminish their level of self-esteem. Being a pious and strict father, Joseph’s behaviour provokes his son’s principle of the ideal image in Waknuk. Evidently, Joseph Storm serves as a prime example of the negative influence one can afflict upon another’s life.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, Uncle Axel, David’s closest companion, plays a significant role in the virtuous aspect of his nephew’s life. Uncle Axel offers David his wise and useful advice on numerous accounts throughout the novel. After discovering that Sophie and her parents had been captured, David informs his uncle of his plans to run away. Considering the risks and harsh consequences, Uncle Axel advises David not to do so, and continues with a lengthy lecture regarding the world outside of his secluded town, including a judicious opinion concerning the idealistic image: “A lot of people saying that a thing is so, doesn’t prove it is so. I’m telling you that nobody – nobody really knows what the true image is” (64). Using his wisdom, Uncle Axel is able to provide David with an ethical approach to their existence, rather than his father’s corrupt and stereotypical beliefs.
Uncle Axel’s intellectual guidance aids David in the realization of the ignorance of his father’s faith and ultimately the recognition that everyone is created unique, none superior to the other. Moreover, when offering guidance to David throughout the book, Uncle Axel employs an intense passion which his nephew had never witnessed before. When Uncle Axel recognizes the prominence of David’s telepathic ability, he vigorously urges him to conceal his gift: “His gravity impressed me greatly. I had never known him to speak with so much intensity. It made me aware, when I gave my promise, that I was vowing something more important than I could understand” (31). David is astonished by the vast amount of force rooted within Uncle Axel’s advice. As a result, he immediately obeys, subconsciously knowing that his uncle’s counsel would serve him well in the near future. In essence, Uncle Axel puts forth a remarkable amount of optimistic influence on David throughout the novel.
With profound examination of Wyndham’s The Chrysalids, one can infer that peers provoke contradictory habits in our lives. By contrasting both a negative and positive influence on one’s life, especially through their childhood, it is evident that diverse manipulations can ultimately render one uncertain of what to believe. In order to prosper in life, one must attain the rare ability of filtering out negative pressure. By focusing on optimism, one can encompass an enthusiastic outlook on life.