The Chrysalids

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Emily Strorm Character Analysis

Emily Strorm is David and Petra’s mother and Joseph’s wife. Like Joseph, she believes strongly in the Wanukian faith, and she decorates her homes with sayings from the holy book Repentences. She turns her sister, Harriet, away when Harriet asks for help hiding her abnormal-looking baby, but cries once Harriet leaves.

Emily Strorm Quotes in The Chrysalids

The The Chrysalids quotes below are all either spoken by Emily Strorm or refer to Emily Strorm. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Words Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the NYRB Classics edition of The Chrysalids published in 2008.
Chapter 2 Quotes

“The nearest approach to decoration was a number of wooden panels with sayings, mostly from Repentences, artistically burnt into them. The one on the left of the fireplace read: ONLY THE IMAGE OF GOD IS MAN. On the opposite wall two more said: BLESSED IS THE NORM, and IN PURITY OUR SALVATION. The largest was the one on the back wall, hung to face the door which led to the yard. It reminded everyone who came in: WATCH THOU FOR THE MUTANT!”

Related Characters: David Strorm (speaker), Emily Strorm, Nicholson
Page Number: 18
Explanation and Analysis:

Here David describes the "decorations" that hang in his house. David is just a child, meaning that he's grown up looking at these phrases, and assumes that they are totally normal. They all offer different variations on the same theme: sameness is good, difference is bad. Some of the panels argue that mutants (i.e., people who don't have entirely "normal" bodies and minds) are wicked. Notice that the panels use (King James) Biblical language--words like "purity" and "thou." The implication again is that religion can be manipulated to persecute "undesirable" groups of people.

The passage is important because it shows how the twisted religion of David's society perpetuates itself over time: children like David are conditioned to believe in the Wanukian religion from the time they can read.

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Chapter 7 Quotes

“I shall pray God to send charity into this hideous world, and sympathy for the weak, and love for the unhappy and unfortunate. I shall ask Him if it is indeed His will that a child should suffer and its soul be damned for a little blemish of the body….And I shall pray Him, too, that the hearts of the self-righteous may be broken.”

Related Characters: Aunt Harriet (speaker), Joseph Strorm, Emily Strorm
Page Number: 73
Explanation and Analysis:

Aunt Harriet bravely stands up to Joseph Strorm when Joseph yells at her to pray for forgiveness from God. Joseph is furious at her for bringing a "deviant" child into their house--Harriet has given birth to a baby that, she knows very well, will be banished for being different.

Harriet makes it clear that, while she's still religious, she no longer believes in the hateful, bigoted aspects of the religion of the Wanuk community. She believes that God is a loving, merciful figure who wouldn't punish little children for their supposed imperfections. In all, Harriet seems like one of the sanest and most moral characters in the novel, a voice of reason in a world of institutionalized insanity.

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Emily Strorm Character Timeline in The Chrysalids

The timeline below shows where the character Emily Strorm appears in The Chrysalids. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3
Words Theme Icon
Ways of Knowing Theme Icon
Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
...when he got a bad splinter and tried to bandage his hand by himself. When his mother scolded him for doing a poor job, he told her that he “could have managed... (full context)
Chapter 7
Words Theme Icon
Ways of Knowing Theme Icon
Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
...a baby cry in his house. He is surprised because he had not noticed that his mother was pregnant, and there was no baby in his house earlier that same night. No... (full context)
Words Theme Icon
Ways of Knowing Theme Icon
Morality Theme Icon
Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
...with her sister. Harriet has brought a baby with her, and she tells David’s mother, Emily, that the news of the birth of Petra was “like God answering a prayer.” It... (full context)
Ways of Knowing Theme Icon
Morality Theme Icon
Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
Real World Allegory Theme Icon
...into her house. Harriet asserts that the baby is lovely, other than her Offense. Like Emily, Harriet has given birth to two abnormal children, and she tells her sister that she... (full context)
Morality Theme Icon
Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
...her sins. He is furious that she would dare to “speak heresy” in his house. Emily begins to cry—something that David has never heard before. David, unable to see into the... (full context)
Chapter 8
Words Theme Icon
Ways of Knowing Theme Icon
Time and Progress Theme Icon
Morality Theme Icon
Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
David tells Uncle Axel about the conversation he overheard between his mother and Aunt Harriet. Uncle Axel responds, once again, that no one can be certain of... (full context)