The Chrysalids

David’s Uncle Axel, the husband of his mother’s late sister, is his primary confidant until he flees Waknuk and is no longer able to communicate with him. Unlike David’s parents, Uncle Axel does not see David as a Mutant because of his abilities and spends a great deal of the book questioning the traditional beliefs of the Waknukians. Uncle Axel used to be a sailor until he went on a voyage that resulted in the death of his wife and left him a cripple. He tells David as much as he knows about the world beyond the town. He is particularly concerned with epistemology, or how we know what we know. He warns David to keep his ability secret and protects the group of Waknukian telepaths whenever possible.

Uncle Axel Quotes in The Chrysalids

The The Chrysalids quotes below are all either spoken by Uncle Axel or refer to Uncle Axel. 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

“But when people are used to believing a thing is such-and-such a way, and the preachers want them to believe that that’s the way it is; it’s trouble you get, not thanks, for upsetting their ideas.”

Related Characters: Uncle Axel (speaker)
Page Number: 57
Explanation and Analysis:

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“But what’s more worrying is that most of them…think that their type is the true pattern of the Old People, and anything different is a Deviation. That seems silly at first, but when you find more and more kinds just as convinced of it as we are ourselves—well you begin to wonder a bit. You start asking yourself: well, what real evidence have we got about the true image?”

Related Characters: Uncle Axel (speaker), Old People
Page Number: 63
Explanation and Analysis:

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“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:

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 mollit anim id est laborum.

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 mollit anim id est laborum.

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:

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 mollit anim id est laborum.

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 mollit anim id est laborum.

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Uncle Axel Character Timeline in The Chrysalids

The timeline below shows where the character Uncle Axel 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
Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
One day David’s Uncle Axel , who lives with David and his family, comes across David, who appears to be... (full context)
Words Theme Icon
Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
David tells the reader that at the time of this conversation, he does not inform Uncle Axel that there are others (besides Rosalind) with whom he can communicate this way, because he... (full context)
Chapter 6
Ways of Knowing Theme Icon
Morality Theme Icon
Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
A few days later, David announces to Uncle Axel that he is going to run away. Uncle Axel cautions him against it, telling him... (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
Uncle Axel explains to David at great length what he knows about the rest of the world.... (full context)
Words Theme Icon
Ways of Knowing Theme Icon
Time and Progress Theme Icon
Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
Later on, Uncle Axel says, people became curious again, and an explorer named Marther headed south. His journals argue... (full context)
Words Theme Icon
Ways of Knowing Theme Icon
Time and Progress Theme Icon
Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
Uncle Axel tells David that these lands are now known to be inhabited by people who either... (full context)
Words Theme Icon
Ways of Knowing Theme Icon
Time and Progress Theme Icon
Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
While David finds what Uncle Axel has to say vaguely interesting, he is mostly concerned with whether there are any cities... (full context)
Chapter 8
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... (full context)
Words Theme Icon
Ways of Knowing Theme Icon
Time and Progress Theme Icon
Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
Uncle Axel asks a lot of philosophical questions about whether there is any point in trying to... (full context)
Words Theme Icon
Ways of Knowing Theme Icon
Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
David tells the reader that he only starts to understand what Uncle Axel was saying when Michael (a member of the group of telepaths) goes to school. One... (full context)
Chapter 9
Ways of Knowing Theme Icon
Morality Theme Icon
Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
David asks Uncle Axel if other people, like Jacob, feel that the Government is too lax about punishing people... (full context)
Chapter 10
Morality Theme Icon
David tells Uncle Axel , who knows about the wedding, that Anne is capable of think-together. David, having had... (full context)
Morality Theme Icon
Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
Uncle Axel tells David about a sailor he once knew who was thrown overboard so that the... (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.... (full context)
Chapter 13
Words Theme Icon
Ways of Knowing Theme Icon
Time and Progress Theme Icon
Racism and Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
Real World Allegory Theme Icon
...those who cannot think-together because they will forever be “one-at-a-times.” David remembers his conversation with Uncle Axel about the impossibility of knowing what the true Image of God really is. That night,... (full context)