While Wyndham’s novel is not necessarily optimistic about the future of this post-apocalyptic world, the book does not take an entirely negative stance on the future of society. Instead, the book argues that even within societies that are morally corrupt, individuals have the power and responsibility to make their own moral choices. Indeed, while the actions of the Wakunians and Zealanders are morally reprehensible due to their racist and violent nature, certain people within these societies are able to behave differently, despite having been taught to conform. The group of friends to which David belongs, for example, decides not to kill Anne even though she puts all of their lives in danger by getting married, and Michael gives up the opportunity to go to Zealand because he does not want to leave Rachel alone in Wanuk. In many ways, the morals of the group separate them from Wanuk much more than does any physical or mental difference. The fact that David, Petra, Rosalind, Michael, and Sophie are much better people than the typical Wanukian, yet are all classified as mutants, shows the hypocrisy of the moral code prescribed by the Repentences, and by repressive and totalitarian societies more generally.
Morality Quotes in The Chrysalids
“And any creature that shall seem to be human, but is not formed thus is not human. It is neither man nor woman. It is a blasphemy against the true Image of God, and hateful in the sight of God.”
“The nearest approach to decoration was a number of wooden panels with sayings, mostly from Repentences, artistically burnt into them. The one on the left of the fireplace read: ONLY THE IMAGE OF GOD IS MAN. On the opposite wall two more said: BLESSED IS THE NORM, and IN PURITY OUR SALVATION. The largest was the one on the back wall, hung to face the door which led to the yard. It reminded everyone who came in: WATCH THOU FOR THE MUTANT!”
“So I learnt quite early to know what Offences were. They were things which did not look right—that is to say, did not look like their parents, or parent-plants. Usually there was only some small thing wrong, but however much or little was wrong it was an Offence, and if it happened among people it was called a Blasphemy—at least, that was the technical term, though commonly both kinds were called Deviations.”
“There was only one true trail, and by following it we should, with God’s help and in His own good time, regain all that had been lost. But so faint was the trail, so set with traps and deceits, that every step must be taken with caution, and it was too dangerous for a man to rely on his own judgment. Only the authorities, ecclesiastical and lay, were in a position to judge whether the next step was a rediscovery, and so, safe to take; or whether it deviated from the true re-ascent, and so was sinful.”
“Most of the numerous precepts, arguments, and examples in Ethics were condensed for us into this: the duty and purpose of man in this world is to fight unceasingly against the evils that Tribulation loosed upon it. Above all, he must see that the human form is kept true to the divine pattern in order that one day it may be permitted to regain the high place in which, as the image of God, it was set.”
“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!”
“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.”
“Of course they should be burnt like they used to be. But what happened? The sentimentalists in Rigo who never have to deal with them themselves said: ‘Even though they aren’t human, they look nearly human, therefore extermination looks like murder, or execution, and that troubles some people’s minds.’”
“It wouldn’t be just murder, Uncle Axel. It’d be something worse, as well; like violating part of ourselves for ever…. We couldn’t do it….”
“‘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.’”
“Sometime there will come a day when we ourselves shall have to give place to a new thing. Very certainly we shall struggle against the inevitable just as these remnants of the Old People do. We shall try with all our strength to grind it back into the earth from which it is emerging, for treachery to one’s own species must always seem a crime. We shall force it to prove itself, and when it does, we shall go; as, by the same process, these are going.”