The Chrysalids

David Strorm Character Analysis

David is the main character and narrator of the novel. His ability to communicate telepathically, or through “thought pictures,” with others makes him abnormal within the town of Waknuk, where he lives. As a result, David and the other telepathic Waknukians he meets must flee Waknuk – which sterilizes and banishes anyone who is different – when their secret ability is discovered. Throughout the novel, David refuses to adhere to the traditional and prejudiced beliefs supported by the Waknukian religion and government. He befriends and cares for people based on their character, rather than whether they adhere to The Definition of Man.

David Strorm Quotes in The Chrysalids

The The Chrysalids quotes below are all either spoken by David Strorm or refer to David Strorm. 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:

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“And God created man in His own image. And God decreed that man should have one body, one head, two arms and two legs: that each arm should be jointed in two places and end in one hand: that each hand should have four fingers and one thumb: that each finger should bear a flat finger-nail.”

Related Characters: David Strorm (speaker), Nicholson
Page Number: 10-11
Explanation and Analysis:

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“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.”

Related Characters: David Strorm (speaker), Nicholson
Page Number: 13
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 2 Quotes

“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!”

Related Characters: David Strorm (speaker), Emily Strorm, Nicholson
Page Number: 18
Explanation and Analysis:

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“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.”

Related Characters: David Strorm (speaker)
Page Number: 19
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 3 Quotes

“‘I only meant if,’ I protested. I was alarmed, and too confused to explain that I had only happened to use one way of expressing a difficulty which might have been put in several ways.”

Related Characters: David Strorm (speaker)
Page Number: 26
Explanation and Analysis:

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“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:

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Chapter 4 Quotes

“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.”

Related Characters: David Strorm (speaker)
Page Number: 40
Explanation and Analysis:

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“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.”

Related Characters: David Strorm (speaker)
Page Number: 41
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 6 Quotes

“Perhaps the Old People were the image: very well then, one of the things they say about them is that they could talk to one another over long distances. Now we can’t do that—but you and Rosalind can. Just think that over, Davie. You two may be nearer to the image than we are.”

Related Characters: Uncle Axel (speaker), David Strorm, Rosalind Morton
Page Number: 64
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 8 Quotes

“A word…a rusted mirror, reflecting nothing. It’d do the preachers good to see it for themselves. They’d not understand, but they might begin to think. They might begin to ask themselves…Are we right? For it is clear, boy, that however wonderful the Old People were, they were not too wonderful to make mistakes—and nobody knows, or is ever likely to know, where they were wise and where they were mistaken.”

Related Characters: Uncle Axel (speaker), David Strorm
Page Number: 79
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 9 Quotes

“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.’”

Related Characters: Jacob (speaker), David Strorm
Page Number: 88
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 10 Quotes

“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….”

Related Characters: David Strorm (speaker), Uncle Axel, Anne
Page Number: 96
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 12 Quotes

“But what’s got them so agitated about us is that nothing shows. We’ve been living among them for nearly twenty years and they didn’t suspect it. We could pass for normal anywhere. So a proclamation has been posted describing the three of you and officially classifying you as deviants. That means that you are non-human and therefore not entitled to any of the rights or protections of human society.”

Related Characters: Michael (speaker), David Strorm, Petra Strorm, Rosalind Morton
Page Number: 131
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 13 Quotes

“‘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.’”

Related Characters: David Strorm (speaker), Petra Strorm (speaker)
Page Number: 144
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 16 Quotes

“Your work is to survive. Neither his kind, nor his kind of thinking will survive long. They are the crown of creation, they are ambition fulfilled—they have nowhere more to go. But life is change, that is how it differs from the rocks, change is its very nature. Who, then, were the recent lords of creation, that they should expect to remain unchanged?”

Related Characters: Woman from Zealand (speaker), David Strorm, Joseph Strorm
Page Number: 182
Explanation and Analysis:

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“The Old People brought down Tribulation, and were broken into fragments by it. Your father and his kind are a part of those fragments. They have become history without being aware of it. They are determined still that there is a final form to defend: soon they will attain the stability they strive for, in the only form it is granted—a place among the fossils.”

Related Characters: Woman from Zealand (speaker), David Strorm, Joseph Strorm, Old People
Page Number: 182
Explanation and Analysis:

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David Strorm Character Timeline in The Chrysalids

The timeline below shows where the character David Strorm 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
The book begins with David, the young narrator, telling us that when he was young, he sometimes dreamed of a... (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... (full context)
Ways of Knowing Theme Icon
Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
When David tells Sophie that she’ll have to take off her shoe to get free, Sophie becomes... (full context)
Words Theme Icon
Ways of Knowing Theme Icon
Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
David tells the reader that at the time, he did not connect Sophie’s foot to the... (full context)
Words Theme Icon
Ways of Knowing Theme Icon
Morality Theme Icon
Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
David can feel that Sophie’s mother is anxious before she speaks to him, and he tries... (full context)
Chapter 2
Morality Theme Icon
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David walks home with his knife in his hand, because the woods where Sophie lives are... (full context)
Words Theme Icon
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Morality Theme Icon
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David’s parents consider their well-built house to be a symbol of their strong morals, and his... (full context)
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According to young David, people who diverge from the norm—known as Deviations—live in the Fringes that surround Waknuk and... (full context)
Chapter 3
Ways of Knowing Theme Icon
Time and Progress Theme Icon
After David sees Sophie’s foot, the two start playing together regularly. One day they go to see... (full context)
Words Theme Icon
Ways of Knowing Theme Icon
Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
Sophie and David leave the steam-engine and return to Sophie’s house. Her father is home, and he is... (full context)
Words Theme Icon
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Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
David tells us that the incident began when he got a bad splinter and tried to... (full context)
Words Theme Icon
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Morality Theme Icon
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David’s father accuses him of asking the Devil for a third hand, and then admonishes him... (full context)
Ways of Knowing Theme Icon
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Real World Allegory Theme Icon
David lies in bed and thinks about the events of the day. Seeing his father’s response... (full context)
Chapter 4
Words Theme Icon
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One day David’s Uncle Axel, who lives with David and his family, comes across David, who appears to... (full context)
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David tells the reader that at the time of this conversation, he does not inform Uncle... (full context)
Ways of Knowing Theme Icon
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Soon after this, a group from the Fringes launches an invasion of Waknuk. David’s father organizes a counter-attack, during which the Waknuk militia captures a few Fringe leaders. A... (full context)
Ways of Knowing Theme Icon
Morality Theme Icon
Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
David is shocked when he realizes that the leader of the captives looks almost exactly like... (full context)
Words Theme Icon
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Time and Progress Theme Icon
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David’s father is so unpleasant to be around during this time that David spends most of... (full context)
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In his Ethics class, David learns that civilization is “in the process of climbing back into grace.” There is only... (full context)
Chapter 5
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David and Sophie spend their summer exploring Waknuk for places they can play freely, without Sophie’s... (full context)
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Sophie and David tell John Wender that Alan saw Sophie’s foot, and John decides that it is time... (full context)
Ways of Knowing Theme Icon
Morality Theme Icon
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This is the first time David has spent the night in a house other than his own, and he is frightened... (full context)
Chapter 6
Words Theme Icon
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David tells the others in his group of telepaths about Sophie, and while they struggle with... (full context)
Words Theme Icon
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The Inspector visits David at home and asks him more about Sophie. David tells him that Sophie didn’t seem... (full context)
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Time and Progress Theme Icon
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David finds it difficult to promise the Inspector that he will report future Blasphemies, because he... (full context)
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A few days later, David announces to Uncle Axel that he is going to run away. Uncle Axel cautions him... (full context)
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Uncle Axel explains to David at great length what he knows about the rest of the world. Much of this... (full context)
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Uncle Axel tells David that these lands are now known to be inhabited by people who either do not... (full context)
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While David finds what Uncle Axel has to say vaguely interesting, he is mostly concerned with whether... (full context)
Chapter 7
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One night, David hears a baby cry in his house. He is surprised because he had not noticed... (full context)
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A few days later, David’s Aunt Harriet, his mother’s sister, arrives at his house. David is hiding to escape having... (full context)
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David’s mother is furious at Harriet for bringing a Blasphemy into her house. Harriet asserts that... (full context)
Chapter 8
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David tells the reader that Aunt Harriet’s suicide was the most disturbing event in his life... (full context)
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David tells Uncle Axel about the conversation he overheard between his mother and Aunt Harriet. Uncle... (full context)
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...that is totally different from theirs, and one that might just end in another Tribulation. David does not understand most of what he is saying. Uncle Axel, knowingly speaking heresy, tells... (full context)
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David tells the reader that he only starts to understand what Uncle Axel was saying when... (full context)
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...in it is able to understand the lessons better than they could on their own. David enjoys his increased access to knowledge, but notes that it also poses a problem for... (full context)
Chapter 9
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David tells the reader that his sister Petra always seemed completely normal. One year during a... (full context)
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Eventually people from the town catch up to Rosalind and David to see what they were running toward. No one understands how they could have known... (full context)
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David tries to communicate through thought-shapes with Petra to tell her to conceal her ability, but... (full context)
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...a particularly bad year, and many are deemed Offenses and destroyed. Jacob, a farmer, tells David that the failed crops are a punishment for the fact that people have become lazy... (full context)
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David asks Uncle Axel if other people, like Jacob, feel that the Government is too lax... (full context)
Chapter 10
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...comes with marriage simply because there are not enough boys in the group. Rosalind and David, she claims, are the only others who know what it is like to be in... (full context)
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David tells Uncle Axel, who knows about the wedding, that Anne is capable of think-together. David,... (full context)
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Uncle Axel tells David about a sailor he once knew who was thrown overboard so that the rest of... (full context)
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Anne’s relationship with Alan prompts David to reflect on his relationship with Rosalind, a relationship he has had to keep secret... (full context)
Chapter 11
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David and the other members of the group receive a compelling call from Petra, who has... (full context)
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David rides his horse into the forest until he reaches Petra, whose pony is being attacked... (full context)
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David takes Petra home and the group discusses what to do about the stranger who saw... (full context)
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David talks to Petra about thought-shapes and tries to teach her to control them. She struggles... (full context)
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A few days later, Uncle Axel tells David that a friend of the Inspector has been asking about him and Rosalind. He suspects... (full context)
Chapter 12
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David makes a few preparations that night, but decides to leave the rest for the morning.... (full context)
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...they can better pretend to be normal. Rosalind has taken her father Angus’s great-horses, so David and Petra send their horse Sheba back home. They ride away from Waknuk in “paniers”... (full context)
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David goes to sleep, and when he wakes up, he learns that Rosalind has had to... (full context)
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Michael warns Rosalind and David that the authorities are furious over their escape. Most Deviations can be seen with the... (full context)
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Petra impedes Rosalind and David’s progress when she becomes afraid of Hairy Jack (the Mutant boogeyman used to frighten children)... (full context)
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...whether Petra might actually mean Sealand. In the Waknukian language, Zs do not exist, so David and Rosalind believe Petra has confused a Z for an S, even though Petra insists... (full context)
Chapter 13
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...horse and he is thrown to the ground. The injured horse runs away, while Rosalind, David, and Petra venture into the Wild Country. As they ride, the woman from Zealand contacts... (full context)
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...to think-talk, and are willing to do anything to understand and control it. He tells David that it would be better for him to kill Petra and Rosalind than let them... (full context)
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Petra overhears Michael’s message to David and does not understand why anyone would want to hurt her when she is not... (full context)
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While Rosalind and David sleep, Petra talks to the woman from Zealand and learns that almost everyone there can... (full context)
Chapter 14
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Rosalind calls to David who, semiconscious, begins meditating on his love for Rosalind. He tells the reader that there... (full context)
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When David fully comes to, Rosalind is explaining to Michael that men from the Fringes dropped from... (full context)
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...touch with the woman from Zealand. The woman is finally close enough for Rosalind and David to be able to communicate with her as well. She advises them to emphasize to... (full context)
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The woman’s pride and disrespectful attitude toward God and the Old People make David uncomfortable. Rosalind is curious about Zealand, however, so she asks about the history of the... (full context)
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The woman from Zealand ceases communicating, and Rosalind, David, Petra, and the great-horses on which they are riding stop. The men put the fugitives... (full context)
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The spidery man suggests that David has lost Waknuk as well, and questions why he is not fighting for what is... (full context)
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Rosalind catches the spidery man’s eye and he looks her over for a long time. David, angry, attacks him, but the man’s guards drag him away. The spidery man explains that... (full context)
Chapter 15
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David awakes to a woman dragging him along the forest floor. He is shocked to see... (full context)
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David follows Sophie to her cave, where he gets in touch with Rosalind and learns that... (full context)
Chapter 16
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...several days. When the town discovers that someone is dead, they will search everywhere for David, but will never think to look in her cave. When Rosalind asks Sophie why she... (full context)
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The next morning, Michael tells David that the Waknukians are getting ready to attack, and the woman from Zealand promises she... (full context)
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Michael tells David, Rosalind, and Petra that the troops are about three hours away, and without warning, Petra... (full context)
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Sophie leaves the cave to find out Gordon’s plan of attack, which she relays to David, who in turn passes it on to Michael so that he can protect himself. Michael... (full context)
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...woman 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... (full context)
Chapter 17
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Soon the wind blows threads into the cave and Rosalind, David, and Petra are covered in them. Following the instructions of the woman, they lie as... (full context)
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...at Petra with an expression of awe, and the two communicate on a level that David and Rosalind cannot understand. The woman tells the group that it was extremely difficult and... (full context)
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While David is not yet ready to think of himself as a species different from those who... (full context)
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Rosalind, David, and Petra board the machine with the woman and go with her to Zealand. There,... (full context)