The Chrysalids

Aunt Harriet Character Analysis

David’s Aunt Harriet comes to David’s house to plead for help from her sister, Emily Strorm. Harriet’s child has a mutation, and she wants Emily to lend her Petra for a few days so that she can pretend Petra is her daughter and obtain a Certificate of Normalcy. Harriet has given birth to two other Blasphemies, and she fears that her husband will throw her out of the house when he finds out about the third. Emily and Joseph refuse to help Harriet and kick her out of their home. The next day, Harriet’s body is found floating in the river. David is unable to forget Aunt Harriet’s suicide, and her death helps motivate him to flee Waknuk.

Aunt Harriet Quotes in The Chrysalids

The The Chrysalids quotes below are all either spoken by Aunt Harriet or refer to Aunt Harriet. 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 7 Quotes

“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!”

Related Characters: Joseph Strorm (speaker), Aunt Harriet
Page Number: 72
Explanation and Analysis:

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“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.”

Related Characters: Aunt Harriet (speaker), Joseph Strorm, Emily Strorm
Page Number: 73
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt m

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Aunt Harriet Character Timeline in The Chrysalids

The timeline below shows where the character Aunt Harriet appears in The Chrysalids. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 7
Words Theme Icon
Ways of Knowing Theme Icon
Morality Theme Icon
Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
A few days later, David’s Aunt Harriet, his mother’s sister, arrives at his house. David is hiding to escape having to work... (full context)
Ways of Knowing Theme Icon
Morality Theme Icon
Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
Real World Allegory Theme Icon
David’s mother is furious at Harriet for bringing a Blasphemy into her house. Harriet asserts that the baby is lovely, other... (full context)
Morality Theme Icon
Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
Harriet rides away on a horse. Joseph is dismayed that she was so arrogant as to... (full context)
Chapter 8
Words Theme Icon
Ways of Knowing Theme Icon
Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
David tells the reader that Aunt Harriet’s suicide was the most disturbing event in his life so far. He dreams of her... (full context)
Words Theme Icon
Ways of Knowing Theme Icon
Time and Progress Theme Icon
Morality Theme Icon
Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
David tells Uncle Axel about the conversation he overheard between his mother and Aunt Harriet. Uncle Axel responds, once again, that no one can be certain of what is normal.... (full context)
Chapter 17
Ways of Knowing Theme Icon
Time and Progress Theme Icon
Morality Theme Icon
...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 Rachel that if she will... (full context)