The Chrysalids

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Sophie Wender Character Analysis

Sophie was born with six toes on each foot—a mutation that classifies her as a Blasphemy in Wanuk. David meets Sophie as a young child, and does not understand why Sophie would want to hide her feet. Later, when Alan sees her six-toed footprint, Sophie and her parents are forced to flee Wanuk. When David leaves Wanuk years later, Sophie helps Petra and Rosalind escape from Gordon’s camp, and provides them and David with shelter in her cave. She loves Gordon and dies while fleeing with him from the battle between the Wanukians and the Fringe people.

Sophie Wender Quotes in The Chrysalids

The The Chrysalids quotes below are all either spoken by Sophie Wender or refer to Sophie Wender . 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 3 Quotes

“If John and Mary Wender had been there when I woke up struggling and crying, and then lay in the dark trying to convince myself that the terrible picture was nothing more than a dream, they would, I think, have felt quite a lot easier in their minds.”

Related Characters: David Strorm (speaker), Sophie Wender , John Wender, Mary Wender
Related Symbols: Dreams
Page Number: 28
Explanation and Analysis:

At the end of the chapter, David has a vivid dream in which he sees Sophie being slaughtered like an animal for the "crime" of having an extra toe on her foot. David is beginning to understand how dangerous difference is in his society--and his dream reflects his awareness that different people can be hurt and even killed for their supposed "evil."

The way David expresses his feelings about Sophie is worth mentioning. Previously, Sophie's parents, John and Mary, have asked David to remain quiet about Sophie's abnormality--they figure that, so long as Sophie's toe remains a secret, she'll be able to remain living in the community. But especially since having this horrifying dream, David doesn't need any reminders from John and Mary about keeping the secret: he now knows full-well that if he tells anybody what he knows, Sophie will be hurt. David's sympathies for Sophie greatly outweigh his loyalty to the religion of Wanuk, even in his subconscious, sleeping self.

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Chapter 6 Quotes

“Well, every part of the definition is as important as any other; and if a child doesn’t come within it, then it isn’t human, and that means it doesn’t have as soul. It is not in the image of God, it is an imitation, and in the imitations there is always some mistake. Only God produces perfection, so although deviations may look like us in many ways, they cannot be really human. They are something quite different.”

Related Characters: The Inspector (speaker), Sophie Wender
Page Number: 55
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, David talks to the Inspector--a local figure whose job is to track down those who "deviate" from the proper path of God. By this point in the book, the Inspector has learned that Sophie has six toes, and he wants to know why David, Sophie's friend, didn't alert the authorities to Sophie's supposed evil.

David tries to justify his behavior by saying the obvious: Sophie isn't an evil person and therefore shouldn't be punished. The Inspector retaliates by referring back to the definition of a human being, as outlined in the holy book of the Wanuk religion. There is, of course, no way for David to argue with such a definition. On the surface of things, it's perfectly silly for anybody to say that it's "right" that beings should have exactly five toes--five is a totally random number, the product of millennia of evolution, nothing more. But because David is young (and probably ignorant of evolution), he has no way of arguing with the Inspector, who's essentially using circular logic (this idea is true because it's in the definition of "normal," which is true because it says it's true). Humans in the Wanuk community are so desperate to maintain order that they punish anybody who's the slightest bit unusual, and will use pedantic interpretations of phrases to ruin real people's lives.

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Sophie Wender Character Timeline in The Chrysalids

The timeline below shows where the character Sophie Wender appears in The Chrysalids. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Ways of Knowing Theme Icon
Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
...day when he realized he was unusual. At age 10, he met a girl named Sophie while he was playing at the edge of town. When he meets her, he is... (full context)
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When David tells Sophie that she’ll have to take off her shoe to get free, Sophie becomes upset and... (full context)
Words Theme Icon
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David tells the reader that at the time, he did not connect Sophie’s foot to the rules he learned in church, because he learned those rules by mechanically... (full context)
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David can feel that Sophie’s mother is anxious before she speaks to him, and he tries to send comforting thoughts... (full context)
Chapter 2
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David walks home with his knife in his hand, because the woods where Sophie lives are said to be dangerous. He sneaks back into his house, which was built... (full context)
Chapter 3
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Time and Progress Theme Icon
After David sees Sophie’s foot, the two start playing together regularly. One day they go to see a steam-engine... (full context)
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Sophie and David leave the steam-engine and return to Sophie’s house. Her father is home, and... (full context)
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Real World Allegory Theme Icon
...recent Purification, in which a calf was slaughtered for being hairless. In David’s dream version, Sophie is in the place of the calf and his father slits her throat. David tells... (full context)
Chapter 4
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...unpleasant to be around during this time that David spends most of his time teaching Sophie what he learns in school, since her parents have kept her out of school so... (full context)
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Morality Theme Icon
Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
Real World Allegory Theme Icon
...follows it, the people of Labrador will regain everything they lost in Tribulation. David tells Sophie that this path is difficult to discern, however, and so the people must rely on... (full context)
Chapter 5
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David and Sophie spend their summer exploring Wanuk for places they can play freely, without Sophie’s being seen.... (full context)
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Sophie and David tell John Wender that Alan saw Sophie’s foot, and John decides that it... (full context)
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...so scared that he wants to return home, but he stays in the house for Sophie’s sake. When he does return home the next morning, he is met by the Inspector... (full context)
Chapter 6
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David tells the others in his group of telepaths about Sophie, and while they struggle with the notion that a Blasphemy might not be evil, they... (full context)
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The Inspector visits David at home and asks him more about Sophie. David tells him that Sophie didn’t seem like the Deviations he learned about in church,... (full context)
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...promise the Inspector that he will report future Blasphemies, because he cannot convince himself that Sophie is truly evil. The Inspector tells him that while fidelity to friends is important, maintaining... (full context)
Chapter 8
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...morning, however, he is still able to communicate with Rosalind. David was so young when Sophie had to flee that he did not fully understand what was happening, but he is... (full context)
Chapter 9
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...heard her screaming. That night, David dreams his old dream in which his father kills Sophie, only this time he is killing Petra. (full context)
Chapter 10
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Anne forms the group that she will marry Alan—the same person who reported Sophie for her Offense. The group protests, saying that it will be too difficult for her... (full context)
Chapter 15
Words Theme Icon
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...the women in Wanuk do. After a few moments, David realizes that the woman is Sophie. Sophie tells David that Rosalind is safe, but she seems wary of Rosalind when speaking... (full context)
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David follows Sophie to her cave, where he gets in touch with Rosalind and learns that she and... (full context)
Chapter 16
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Sophie tells Rosalind and Petra to get rid of their embroidered crosses, as this is a... (full context)
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Sophie leaves the cave to find out Gordon’s plan of attack, which she relays to David,... (full context)
Chapter 17
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...as possible. The Zealanders’ machine lands and the woman frees Michael, who leads her to Sophie’s cave. She sprays David and the others with something that loosens the grip of the... (full context)