The Chrysalids

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The Chrysalids Chapter 12 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
David makes a few preparations that night, but decides to leave the rest for the morning. When he wakes up, Michael and Rosalind tell him that Katherine and Sally have been taken and he and Petra need to flee immediately. As they leave the house, they hear the sound of horse hooves approaching. They do not have time to saddle their own horse, Sheba, so they ride her bareback into the forest to meet Rosalind.
Here, horses represent both freedom and captivity. The unbridled, bareback horse is a means to escape, while the regimented and tamed trot of the authorities’ horses signals the loss of that freedom. Further, the tamed horses symbolize the Wanukian desire to tame and control nature whenever possible.
Themes
Ways of Knowing Theme Icon
Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
Katherine and Sally shut their minds to the rest of the group so that they can better pretend to be normal. Rosalind has taken her father Angus’s great-horses, so David and Petra send their horse Sheba back home. They ride away from Wanuk in “paniers” (baskets) strapped to either side of the horse, and go to great lengths to conceal their tracks. Rosalind tells David that she and her mother, who had suspected something was going on and wanted to help, were up all night making preparations. David knows that his own mother would never do the same. While Rosalind, David, and Petra escape, Michael, Mark, and Rachel monitor the situation at home and tell the three fugitives about the authorities’ plans to come after them. Michael and Mark plan to join search teams and feed them false information.
While the ability to think-together gets Rosalind, David, and Petra into trouble in the first place, it also helps get them out of it. Because they can use an untraceable form of communication, they are able to coordinate with those who have not yet been discovered. Indeed, while the Wanukian authorities must rely on language to help them chase an invisible Mutation, those with the ability to think-together have many more resources and much more knowledge at their disposal. Rosalind’s mother, unlike David’s, puts family and love ahead of dogma.
Themes
Words Theme Icon
Ways of Knowing Theme Icon
Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
David goes to sleep, and when he wakes up, he learns that Rosalind has had to kill a person who was following them. She is extremely distressed and unable to control her thought-images. Later that day, a sharp pain floods the minds of the group, and they realize that Katherine has been tortured into confessing. Sally, not wanting to be tortured for nothing, confesses as well. They are forced into confirming the Inspector’s suspicions about Rosalind, David, and Petra, but no one yet suspects Michael, Mark, and Rachel. The anguish that Sally feels overwhelms the group.
Because the group can see into Sally’s true thoughts, they know that Katherine and Sally did not give them up without a fight, so they can continue to trust their friends. Again we see that the Wanukians have no qualms about using violence in their fight against the unknown.
Themes
Words Theme Icon
Morality Theme Icon
Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
Michael warns Rosalind and David that the authorities are furious over their escape. Most Deviations can be seen with the eye, but theirs cannot be, and the leaders of the town are upset that they lived with Mutants for so long without knowing. They issue a statement classifying the three fugitives as non-human, meaning anyone can shoot them at any time. The authorities, however, hope to capture the three rather than kill them, so they can learn more about how they communicate. Michael explains that the leaders are particularly concerned because Rosalind and David would be able to coordinate a counterattack wordlessly.
Because their deviation cannot be seen with the eye, the Government must issue a written statement declaring David, Rosalind, and Petra sub-human. This piece of writing fundamentally changes their status in the world, although David, Rosalind, and Petra remain the same people. The authorities in Wanuk are terrified of the fugitives, not only because they are deviant, but also, and more importantly, because no one understands their deviation.
Themes
Words Theme Icon
Ways of Knowing Theme Icon
Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
Real World Allegory Theme Icon
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Petra impedes Rosalind and David’s progress when she becomes afraid of Hairy Jack (the Mutant boogeyman used to frighten children) and refuses to go further into the Fringes. Michael explains to her that the people in the Fringes are not scary, just different, and that they should be pitied rather than feared. Petra struggles to hear him, however, because someone else’s thought-pictures are getting mixed in with Michael’s.
While Petra is young enough to still be under the influence of the bedtime stories told to her by her parents, Michael has enough experience with the world to convince her that they are not true. Once again the telepaths’ thought-images are more convincing than spoken or written words.
Themes
Words Theme Icon
Ways of Knowing Theme Icon
Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
A woman from far away asks Petra for her name and location. The person responds with her own location, but Petra is not familiar with the name and is unable to read it when she spells it out. By transmitting the woman’s thought-images of letters to the rest of the group, Petra is able to communicate that the woman is in a place called Zealand, although there is much confusion over whether Petra might actually mean Sealand. In the Wanukian language, Zs do not exist, so David and Rosalind believe Petra has confused a Z for an S, even though Petra insists it is a Z. Petra explains that in Zealand it is daytime and people travel around a city in horseless carts. David asks her to ask the woman if there are fish-shaped things in the sky and Petra confirms that there are. David is excited to learn that the city of which he has dreamed is not necessarily an Old People city, but one that might actually still exist.
Here Wyndham asserts that words are not without value. Indeed, were Petra only able to communicate through thought-images, she would not be able to explain her conversation in a way that is comprehensible to David and Petra. There are, however, barriers to being able to effectively communicate with words. Petra is too young to know how to read, but she can communicate through thought-images with little training. David learns for the first time that he was not dreaming of a city from the past, but one in the present. Zealand bears a strong resemblance to modern-day New Zealand.
Themes
Words Theme Icon
Ways of Knowing Theme Icon
Time and Progress Theme Icon
Real World Allegory Theme Icon