The Chrysalids

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The Inspector is in charge of granting Certificates of Normalcy to newborn Wanukains and determining what is and is not made in the Image of God. He and Joseph Strorm disagree about whether great-horses should be classified as Mutations. The Inspector is not as uncompromising in his beliefs as is Joseph, and, unlike Joseph, he is kind to David when he finds out that David has concealed Sophie’s mutation. He grants Petra a Certificate of Normalcy because she looks like a normal child.

The Inspector Quotes in The Chrysalids

The The Chrysalids quotes below are all either spoken by The Inspector or refer to The Inspector. 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 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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The Inspector Character Timeline in The Chrysalids

The timeline below shows where the character The Inspector appears in The Chrysalids. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 4
Words Theme Icon
Ways of Knowing Theme Icon
Morality Theme Icon
Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
...or not the “great-horses” which Angus has newly acquired constitute an Offense. Joseph complains to the Inspector that the horses look wrong, but the Inspector tells him that the great-horses are Government-sanctioned.... (full context)
Chapter 5
Ways of Knowing Theme Icon
Morality Theme Icon
Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
...for Sophie’s sake. 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... (full context)
Chapter 6
Words Theme Icon
Ways of Knowing Theme Icon
Morality Theme Icon
Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
The Inspector visits David at home and asks him more about Sophie. David tells him that Sophie... (full context)
Ways of Knowing Theme Icon
Time and Progress Theme Icon
Morality Theme Icon
Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
Real World Allegory Theme Icon
David finds it difficult to promise the Inspector that he will report future Blasphemies, because he cannot convince himself that Sophie is truly... (full context)
Chapter 7
Words Theme Icon
Ways of Knowing Theme Icon
Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
...baby cannot be called a baby until it is issued a Certificate of Normalcy by the Inspector . The Inspector delays his house call as long as possible to anger Mr. Strorm,... (full context)
Chapter 10
Words Theme Icon
Ways of Knowing Theme Icon
Morality Theme Icon
...thinking it is meant for a family member, gives it to Rachel rather than to the Inspector . Rachel does not tell the neighbor she has read the address on the note... (full context)
Chapter 11
Ways of Knowing Theme Icon
Morality Theme Icon
A few days later, Uncle Axel tells David that a friend of the Inspector has been asking about him and Rosalind. He suspects that Petra might be to blame.... (full context)