”The Chrysalids” by John Wyndham Essay Sample
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”The Chrysalids” by John Wyndham Essay Sample
When people are forced to hold certain beliefs which they do not agree with, they often end up becoming hypocrites. Such is the case in The Chrysalids by John Wyndham; the citizens of the book’s setting, Waknuk, are forced to believe that any being which is not completely normal is a mutant, and should be removed from society. These stern beliefs force several citizens to become hypocrites.
Waknuk is a very strict community, and its inhabitants are compelled to maintain numerous rigid beliefs. They are taught, from a young age that all living creatures should look the same as their parents, and that all living things which diverge from their true form are deviations. To Waknukians, it is compulsory to, “know what Offences were. They were things which did not look right… and if it happened among people it was a Blasphemy…both kinds were commonly called Deviations.” (Wyndham 19) The society of Waknuk forces its citizens to learn this lesson in schools and churches and by doing so they strive to ensure that everyone holds the same beliefs, with no exceptions. After these lessons are learned, the Waknukians try to constantly remind themselves of the dangers of deviations.
They do this by placing reminders of their beliefs all around their homes, for instance a reminder, “on the left of the fireplace read: ONLY THE IMAGE OF GOD IS MAN. The one on the right: KEEP PURE THE STOCK OF THE LORD.” (18) Reminders like this make it impossible to forget the values that the citizens of Waknuk are supposed to keep. Moreover, even the mention of deviations, in jest or otherwise is strongly discouraged in Waknuk. In fact, when one of the book’s protagonists, David gets a splinter and has trouble bandaging the wound, he says, “I could have managed it all right by myself if I’d had another hand” (26), and for this casual mention of blasphemy, David gets severely punished and rebuked by his father. This is because the father, like most other Waknukians, is very strict with his beliefs. In short, the people of Waknuk are too rigid in their beliefs, and they force all members of their society to maintain the same opinions.
The pressure put on Waknukians to maintain the norm and remove deviants is too much to surmount, and this forces countless citizens of the area to become hypocrites, who distrust and lie to each other. However, the biggest hypocrite of all is the government itself; the government of Waknuk tends to bend the rules of deviations when it suits them. Such is the case when Angus Morton says that his abnormally large horses are, “Government approved” (36). Although the horses are twenty-six hands tall and obvious deviations, the government approves them because they are strong and profitable. Another way hypocrisy is shown in the municipality of Waknuk is that David’s father, the man who preaches being honest about deviations and reporting them quickly, tries to hide a possible deviation. When Petra is first born, the entire Strorm family waits for the inspector to come and prove the baby to be a true image of God. Because no one mentions the baby, David becomes aware that “should it unhappily turn out to violate the image …the whole regrettable incident would be deemed to not have occurred.” (66)
David’s father enjoys pointing out the deviations of others, however, if he had a deviant child, he would not want anyone to find out about it, and that is true hypocrisy. Similarly, David’s mother, Emily, turns out to be a hypocrite as well. When her sister, Harriet, comes to see her, and shows Emily her daughter, Emily calls the child beautiful, and fawns over her. Later, when she discovers that the child has a small flaw, she shouts to Harriet, saying, “You have the effrontery to bring your monster into my house!” (70) As soon as Emily sees that the child is a deviant, she forgets her earlier comments on it, and calls it a monster. Her beliefs make her into a hypocrite. To summarize, many Waknukians are two-faced, and this causes them to have a very insecure and suspicious community.
The reason for all of the hypocrisy, and doubt hidden in the hearts of the Waknukians, is the stern values which are forced upon them. The people of Waknuk are forced to believe that all creatures who do not look normal should be taken out of society, and although they all preach this, they do not all follow it. Hypocrisy is common not only in this story, but everywhere for everyone in our society wants to be virtuous, and at the same time, no one does.