The Chrysalids

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Petra Strorm Character Analysis

Petra is David’s youngest sister. She is thought to be a normal child, until she endangers the other telepathic Wanukains with her extraordinarily strong telepathic powers. The Zealand woman suspects that Petra is the most powerful telepath in the world, and she comes to rescue David, Rosalind, and Petra from the Fringes of Wanuk because of Petra’s powers.

Petra Strorm Quotes in The Chrysalids

The The Chrysalids quotes below are all either spoken by Petra Strorm or refer to Petra 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 12 Quotes

“But what’s got them so agitated about us is that nothing shows. We’ve been living among them for nearly twenty years and they didn’t suspect it. We could pass for normal anywhere. So a proclamation has been posted describing the three of you and officially classifying you as deviants. That means that you are non-human and therefore not entitled to any of the rights or protections of human society.”

Related Characters: Michael (speaker), David Strorm, Petra Strorm, Rosalind Morton
Page Number: 131
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Michael, a fellow psychic, informs Rosalind and David that they're been found out and placed on a "wanted" list. The list establishes that David and his peers aren't human beings at all--they're non-human deviants who can be arrested or even killed on sight.

As Michael acknowledges, the authorities in Wanuk don't just want David and his friends dead because they're different--they're personally outraged that psychics have managed to survive undetected for so many years. There seems to be a personal animosity in the authorities' vendetta against the psychics, one that won't be satisfied until David and the others are dead. The scene establishes how easily the community of Wanuk can deprive people of their rights--one piece of paper, and David is suddenly no longer human.

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Chapter 13 Quotes

“‘Why should they be afraid of us? We aren’t hurting them,’ she broke in.

‘I’m not sure that I know why,’ I told her. ‘But they are. It’s a feel-thing not a think-thing. And the more stupid they are, the more like everyone else they think everyone ought to be. And once they get afraid they become cruel and want to hurt people who are different.’”

Related Characters: David Strorm (speaker), Petra Strorm (speaker)
Page Number: 144
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, David and Petra sum up their community's culture. As David points out, the Wanukians don't like anybody who's different because the Wanukians themselves are too foolish and close-minded to tolerate difference of any kind. It takes a conscious effort to embrace people who are different--and ultimately, it's easier to be intolerant.

While the people of Wanuk wrap their bigotry in pious words and church gatherings, their hatred for undesirables is no different from a lyncher's hatred for a black man, or a Nazi's hatred for a Jew. Intolerance takes many different forms, and yet it always boils down to the same thing: willful ignorance of the complex realities of the world.

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Petra Strorm Character Timeline in The Chrysalids

The timeline below shows where the character Petra Strorm appears in The Chrysalids. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 7
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Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
...children. Eventually, however, the child is deemed normal by the Inspector, and she is named Petra. David tells the reader that no one could blame the inspector for his decision, because... (full context)
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...with her, and she tells David’s mother, Emily, that the news of the birth of Petra was “like God answering a prayer.” It becomes clear that Harriet has been unable to... (full context)
Chapter 9
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David tells the reader that his sister Petra always seemed completely normal. One year during a harvest, however, David is overwhelmed by the... (full context)
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...see what they were running toward. No one understands how they could have known that Petra was in danger, and Rosalind and David must lie and say that they heard her... (full context)
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David tries to communicate through thought-shapes with Petra to tell her to conceal her ability, but he is not able to reach her.... (full context)
Chapter 10
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Anne leaves behind a suicide note outing everyone in the group, even Petra, and suggesting that they killed Alan. Fortunately, Anne’s illiterate neighbor finds the note and, thinking... (full context)
Chapter 11
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David and the other members of the group receive a compelling call from Petra, who has ridden a pony into the sometimes-dangerous forest that separates Wanuk from the Fringes.... (full context)
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David rides his horse into the forest until he reaches Petra, whose pony is being attacked by a mutated cat. Rosalind and Michael, who have also... (full context)
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David takes Petra home and the group discusses what to do about the stranger who saw them, now... (full context)
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David talks to Petra about thought-shapes and tries to teach her to control them. She struggles to moderate their... (full context)
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...a friend of the Inspector has been asking about him and Rosalind. He suspects that Petra might be to blame. David is shocked because he hasn’t told Uncle Axel about Petra,... (full context)
Chapter 12
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...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... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
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Petra impedes Rosalind and David’s progress when she becomes afraid of Hairy Jack (the Mutant boogeyman... (full context)
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A woman from far away asks Petra for her name and location. The person responds with her own location, but Petra is... (full context)
Chapter 13
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...he is thrown to the ground. The injured horse runs away, while Rosalind, David, and Petra venture into the Wild Country. As they ride, the woman from Zealand contacts Petra, who... (full context)
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...and control it. He tells David that it would be better for him to kill Petra and Rosalind than let them fall into the hands of their enemies. (full context)
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Petra overhears Michael’s message to David and does not understand why anyone would want to hurt... (full context)
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While Rosalind and David sleep, Petra talks to the woman from Zealand and learns that almost everyone there can think-together. The... (full context)
Chapter 14
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Meanwhile, Petra gets in touch with the woman from Zealand. The woman is finally close enough for... (full context)
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The woman from Zealand ceases communicating, and Rosalind, David, Petra, and the great-horses on which they are riding stop. The men put the fugitives on... (full context)
Chapter 15
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...to her cave, where he gets in touch with Rosalind and learns that she and Petra are being kept in a tent near Gordon’s. He enlists Sophie’s help in retrieving them... (full context)
Chapter 16
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Sophie tells Rosalind and Petra to get rid of their embroidered crosses, as this is a dangerous symbol within the... (full context)
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Michael tells David, Rosalind, and Petra that the troops are about three hours away, and without warning, Petra asks if her... (full context)
Chapter 17
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Soon the wind blows threads into the cave and Rosalind, David, and Petra are covered in them. Following the instructions of the woman, they lie as still as... (full context)
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The woman looks at Petra with an expression of awe, and the two communicate on a level that David and... (full context)
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...himself as a species different from those who cannot think-together, he feels immensely relieved that Petra will not meet Aunt Harriet’s or Katherine’s or Anne’s fate. Michael asks Petra to tell... (full context)
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Rosalind, David, and Petra board the machine with the woman and go with her to Zealand. There, David finds... (full context)