The Chrysalids

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Dreams Symbol Icon
In The Chrysalids, David’s relationship with his dreams mirrors his relationship with his telepathy. Of course, his dreams are also likely the product of his telepathy. At the beginning of the novel, David hides his dreams much like he hides his ability. For example, he tells Sophie about neither, even though he trusts her a great deal. At this phase in his life, both his dreams and his ability bring him great pleasure—they have not yet been tarnished by his relationship with Wanukian beliefs. After David comes to understand why Sophie had to flee, his dreams become increasingly violent and his ability becomes increasingly burdensome. By the end of the novel, however, David has found a way to the place in his dreams, where he can be open about his ability.

Dreams Quotes in The Chrysalids

The The Chrysalids quotes below all refer to the symbol of Dreams. 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 1 Quotes

“Dreams were funny things and there was no accounting for them; so it might be that what I was seeing was a bit of the world as it had been once upon a time—the wonderful world that the Old People had lived in; as it had been before God sent Tribulation."

Related Characters: David Strorm (speaker), Old People, Mary Strorm
Related Symbols: Dreams
Page Number: 5
Explanation and Analysis:

The protagonist of the novel, David Strorm, is immediately depicted as a dreamer--he has vivid dreams about a faraway (whether in time or in physical distance) place. He's something of an audience stand-in, because unlike the majority of the people in his community, he's curious about the outside world, and refuses to accept what he can see and touch as the be-all, end-all.

The novel as establishes a clear contrast between the Old and New worlds. The Old People, we're told, were evil--that's why they were punished by God. Clearly, David lives in a severe, religious society that hypocritically contrasts its own virtue with the evils of the past--a society not unlike Hitler's Germany or even the American South during the years of segregation.

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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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Dreams Symbol Timeline in The Chrysalids

The timeline below shows where the symbol Dreams 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
Real World Allegory Theme Icon
...begins with David, the young narrator, telling us that when he was young, he sometimes dreamed of a city with “carts running with no horses to pull them” and “shiny, fish-shaped... (full context)
Ways of Knowing Theme Icon
Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
While David felt like a normal child at the time of the dream, he tells us that he can now pinpoint the day when he realized he was... (full context)
Chapter 3
Ways of Knowing Theme Icon
Time and Progress Theme Icon
...Old People could do that he and she cannot. He considers telling Sophie about his dream of a city with metal fish in the sky, but decides to keep it a... (full context)
Ways of Knowing Theme Icon
Morality Theme Icon
Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
Real World Allegory Theme Icon
...would happen if to him if he actually had three hands. He falls asleep and dreams about the most recent Purification, in which a calf was slaughtered for being hairless. In... (full context)
Chapter 6
Words Theme Icon
Ways of Knowing Theme Icon
Morality Theme Icon
Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
...lie in one’s thoughts, and that David must be telling the truth. That night, David dreams once again of his father killing Sophie and of the city with the fish in... (full context)
Words Theme Icon
Ways of Knowing Theme Icon
Morality Theme Icon
Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
...asks David why he didn’t tell his father about Sophie, David tells him about his dream in which his father kills her. The Inspector assures him that Blasphemies are not dealt... (full context)
Chapter 8
Words Theme Icon
Ways of Knowing Theme Icon
Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
...that Aunt Harriet’s suicide was the most disturbing event in his life so far. He dreams of her lying in the river, holding her baby. The fact that even the slightest... (full context)
Chapter 9
Words Theme Icon
Ways of Knowing Theme Icon
Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
...Rosalind and David must lie and say that they heard her screaming. That night, David dreams his old dream in which his father kills Sophie, only this time he is killing... (full context)
Chapter 12
Words Theme Icon
Ways of Knowing Theme Icon
Time and Progress Theme Icon
Real World Allegory Theme Icon
...that there are. David is excited to learn that the city of which he has dreamed is not necessarily an Old People city, but one that might actually still exist. (full context)
Chapter 16
Time and Progress Theme Icon
...from Zealand announces that they are almost there. A “fish-shaped craft” like those in David’s dreams appears in the sky. As it approaches, it begins to drop thin strings, “like cobwebs,”... (full context)
Chapter 17
Words Theme Icon
Time and Progress Theme Icon
Morality Theme Icon
...the woman and go with her to Zealand. There, David finds the city of his dreams. The sound of the thoughts of thousands of people fills the air, and David and... (full context)