The Chrysalids

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Joseph Strorm Character Analysis

Joseph is David’s father and a strict believer in the Wanukian faith. He ruthlessly beats David when he lies about Sophie’s mutation, and he persecutes and targets anyone in town who he believes is not behaving morally. Joseph and the Inspector have a tense relationship, and Joseph uses his position as a preacher to speak out against the Inspector’s decisions. He banishes Aunt Harriet when she asks for help, and joins the hunt for David, Petra, and Rosalind when he learns of his children’s deviations. He is killed in battle by is outcast brother, Gordon.

Joseph Strorm Quotes in The Chrysalids

The The Chrysalids quotes below are all either spoken by Joseph Strorm or refer to Joseph 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 7 Quotes

“You have sinned, woman, search your heart, and you will know that you have sinned. Your sin has weakened our defenses, and the enemy has struck through you. You wear the cross on your dress to protect you, but you have not worn it always in your heart. You have not kept constant vigilance for impurity. So there has been a Deviation; and deviation, any deviation from the true image is blasphemy—no less. You have produced a defilement!”

Related Characters: Joseph Strorm (speaker), Aunt Harriet
Page Number: 72
Explanation and Analysis:

In this disturbing scene, Harriet, David's aunt, brings her new "mutant" child into the house. Harriet wants her relatives to help her ensure that her child can receive a "Certificate of Normalcy." Instead of helping his own relative, Joseph Strorm yells at her for being evil and abusing the rules of the community. Joseph isn't much of a family man: he's so slavishly loyal to the Wanuk religion that he ignores his innate sympathies for his sister-in-law.

The passage shows how easily religions can be manipulated to suit a given agenda. Furthermore, it shows how strong religiously-motivated hatred can be. Joseph refuses to extend his help to anybody harboring "deviant" human beings--even his own family. He's a religious fanatic, at least by readers' standards, and yet he seems to be pretty normal (and even admirable) by the standards of the novel's society.

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“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.

Chapter 16 Quotes

“Your work is to survive. Neither his kind, nor his kind of thinking will survive long. They are the crown of creation, they are ambition fulfilled—they have nowhere more to go. But life is change, that is how it differs from the rocks, change is its very nature. Who, then, were the recent lords of creation, that they should expect to remain unchanged?”

Related Characters: Woman from Zealand (speaker), David Strorm, Joseph Strorm
Page Number: 182
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, the mysterious woman from Zealand has come to rescue the psychics, including David and Petra. David is dismayed when he learns that his father is about to killed in the Zealanders' coming invasion of Wanuk. When David expresses his dismay, the woman of Zealand tries to console him by saying, much like the Fringes man did, that life is change, and to resist change is to be delusional. It is inevitable, then, that David’s father will die anyway, and that David would have to totally "break free" from his father at some point—thus, there’s no point in David being upset about his father’s passing.

The woman from Zealand's advice is rather callous, since she's essentially telling David to forget about his own father for another version of the "greater good." Joseph isn't a remotely likable or sympathetic character, and yet the woman from Zealand's indifference to his death seems a far cry from the behavior of a supposedly more "enlightened" being. The Chrysalids resists easy moralizing--just because the woman from Zealand seems to be working on David's side doesn't mean we have to agree with her philosophy. In fact, it's suggested that David has just left one racist, fundamentalist society for another one.

“The Old People brought down Tribulation, and were broken into fragments by it. Your father and his kind are a part of those fragments. They have become history without being aware of it. They are determined still that there is a final form to defend: soon they will attain the stability they strive for, in the only form it is granted—a place among the fossils.”

Related Characters: Woman from Zealand (speaker), David Strorm, Joseph Strorm, Old People
Page Number: 182
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, the woman from Zealand continues to give David her interpretation of history. She argues that humans are always a part of history, whether they like it or not, and the only way to achieve real "purity" or stasis is through death. In this way she justifies the murder of the Wanukians, because they always wanted to become "fossils" anyway. In essence, the Woman of Zealand seems to be offering David another strict, deterministic model of the universe—the opposite and yet the equal of the one on which David was raised. Where the Wanukians worship stability in the sense of imitating the past, the woman of Zealand worships an ideal of progress, one that feels no qualms about eliminating anything that might hold it back.

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Joseph Strorm Character Timeline in The Chrysalids

The timeline below shows where the character Joseph Strorm appears in The Chrysalids. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Morality Theme Icon
Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
...not as firm a believer as her husband. David tells us that his own father, Joseph, inherited Elias’ beliefs, and has dedicated himself to punishing those who break religious rules. (full context)
Words Theme Icon
Ways of Knowing Theme Icon
Morality Theme Icon
Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
...importance of purity. The largest and most prominent saying reads “Watch thou for the mutant!” David’s father and the rest of the town exert a great deal of time destroying these “mutants,”... (full context)
Chapter 3
Words Theme Icon
Ways of Knowing Theme Icon
Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
...all right by myself if I’d had another hand.” This statement shocked his family and his father became enraged. David tells us that at the time, he was not able to explain... (full context)
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Ways of Knowing Theme Icon
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Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
...the Devil for a third hand, and then admonishes him for lying when David protests. Joseph tells David that he has “blasphemed” by wishing his body were different and for finding... (full context)
Chapter 4
Ways of Knowing Theme Icon
Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
Soon after this, a group from the Fringes launches an invasion of Wanuk. David’s father organizes a counter-attack, during which the Wanuk militia captures a few Fringe leaders. A group... (full context)
Ways of Knowing Theme Icon
Morality Theme Icon
Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
...father is and whether the town is called Wanuk. David replies that his father is Joseph Strorm and that this is, indeed, Wanuk. Then the man is taken way. David later... (full context)
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Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
Soon after, Joseph Strorm gets into an argument with Angus Morton, with whom he has a long-standing disagreement,... (full context)
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Time and Progress Theme Icon
Real World Allegory Theme Icon
David’s father is so unpleasant to be around during this time that David spends most of his... (full context)
Chapter 5
Ways of Knowing Theme Icon
Morality Theme Icon
Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
...When he does return home the next morning, he is met by the Inspector and his father , who is livid. The Inspector tells David that he could go to jail for... (full context)
Chapter 6
Words Theme Icon
Ways of Knowing Theme Icon
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Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
...she is not a creation of God. When he asks David why he didn’t tell his father about Sophie, David tells him about his dream in which his father kills her. The... (full context)
Ways of Knowing Theme Icon
Time and Progress Theme Icon
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Real World Allegory Theme Icon
...while fidelity to friends is important, maintaining “the Purity of the Race” is more so. David’s father interrupts him to announce that the Wenders have been caught. David is so overwhelmed with... (full context)
Chapter 7
Words Theme Icon
Ways of Knowing Theme Icon
Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
...by the Inspector. The Inspector delays his house call as long as possible to anger Mr. Strorm , and as a result, everyone in the Strorm house must pretend that Mrs. Strorm... (full context)
Ways of Knowing Theme Icon
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Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
Real World Allegory Theme Icon
...that her husband will banish her. Emily shows no compassion toward her sister and asks Joseph to throw her out. Joseph rails against Harriet for her sin and tells her to... (full context)
Morality Theme Icon
Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
Harriet rides away on a horse. Joseph is dismayed that she was so arrogant as to not be ashamed of her sins.... (full context)
Chapter 10
Morality Theme Icon
...Rosalind, a relationship he has had to keep secret because Rosalind is the daughter of Joseph Strorm’s enemy, Angus Morton. The idea that they might be allowed to be together openly... (full context)
Chapter 14
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...who was taken hostage many years ago. In the years between, David has learned that his father once had an older brother who was found to be Deviant when he was a... (full context)
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Morality Theme Icon
Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
...is happy to hear that an army is pursuing the fugitives, and he wonders whether David’s father is with them. David does not want to know the answer and avoids asking Michael... (full context)
Chapter 16
Ways of Knowing Theme Icon
Time and Progress Theme Icon
Morality Theme Icon
Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
...Petra that the troops are about three hours away, and without warning, Petra asks if her father is with them. Michael, unable to lie through his thoughts, reports that he is. Petra... (full context)
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Morality Theme Icon
...able to do so, shots are fired and the battle begins. David watches Gordon shoot his brother (David’s father) in the chest. The spidery man then flees, taking Sophie with him, but... (full context)