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The Chrysalids


The Chrysalids by John Wyndham - Summary


"The Chrysalids" is a post-apocalyptic science fiction novel set in a future society that is grappling with the aftermath of a nuclear disaster. This disaster has led to widespread genetic mutations, and the society has strict norms about purity and conformity.

Main Characters

  • David Strorm: The protagonist, a young boy who secretly possesses telepathic abilities.
  • Sophie Wender: David's friend with six toes, considered a mutation in their society.
  • Joseph Strorm: David's father, a rigid supporter of societal norms.
  • Uncle Axel: David's uncle who provides guidance and supports his questioning of societal norms.
  • Rosalind Morton: David's cousin and fellow telepath, with whom he shares a close bond.

Plot Overview

  1. Discovery of Mutations: The story begins with David, a young boy, discovering that his friend Sophie has an extra toe. In their society, any form of physical deviation from the norm is considered a blasphemy and is harshly dealt with.
  2. David's Telepathy: David realizes he has telepathic abilities, which he shares with a group of other children, including his cousin Rosalind. They keep this secret for fear of persecution.
  3. Rising Tensions: As they grow older, the telepathic group faces increasing risks as society's hunt for deviations intensifies.
  4. Escape and Pursuit: Eventually, their secret is discovered, leading to a harrowing escape. David, Rosalind, and a young girl named Petra, who has the strongest telepathic abilities, flee their community.
  5. The Fringes and Beyond: They encounter various challenges and moral dilemmas in the Fringes, a borderland inhabited by mutants. The group is pursued by the authorities of their former community.
  6. Rescue and Resolution: In the end, a technologically advanced society, which accepts and understands mutations and telepathy, rescues them. This society represents a contrast to the oppressive norms of David's community.


  • Intolerance and Fear of the Unknown: The novel explores how fear and ignorance lead to intolerance and persecution of those who are different.
  • The Nature of Humanity: Questions what it means to be human and challenges the notion of normalcy.
  • Change and Evolution: Emphasizes the inevitability of change and evolution in a post-apocalyptic world.


"The Chrysalids" is a thought-provoking novel that deals with complex themes of conformity, intolerance, and the human capacity for empathy and understanding in the face of fear and ignorance. It is a cautionary tale about the dangers of rigid beliefs and the importance of accepting change and difference.