The Chrysalids Themes & Motifs

This Study Guide consists of approximately 45 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Chrysalids.
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Perpetual Cycle of Ignorance

One of the novel’s main themes is the perpetual cycle of ignorance, as exemplified by the people of Waknuk. The residents do not know it, but they are the descendants of the survivors of a world that was destroyed by ignorance. Although never explicitly stated in the book, there are numerous clues that the world of the Old People was torn asunder by a nuclear holocaust. The world is full of mutations brought on by radioactivity. Since The Chrysalids was written in the 1950s, and much of the science-fiction literature at the time was characterized by Cold War fears, it stands to the reason that the mutated, post-apocalyptic setting is a product of nuclear apocalypse.

The chief piece of evidence for Waknuk’s ignorance is the fact they do not understand what radioactivity is. They believe the Deviations to be the literal...

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This section contains 2,079 words
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