The word chrysalid is derived from the biological process of insect metamorphasis: a series or stages ranging from the larva/caterpillar into the chrysalis or pupa and then finally the butterfly. How is The Chrysalid an appropriate title for the novel by examining the beliefs by the Old People, the Waknukians, and the Sealanders?
The word “Chrysalid” was invented by John Wyndham for the title of his book The Chrysalids. The word comes from the process of insect metamorphosis, when a caterpillar goes into a cocoon or chrysalis, and then becomes a butterfly. Chrysalid can also mean a state of growing. The word Chrysalid makes a great title for the book, and there is evidence to prove it. It is able to be related to the Old People, the Waknukians, and the Sealand Lady and the Sealanders, are all stages in the butterfly cycle.
Firstly, the Old people, or oure modern day people are the first stage of the butterfly cycle, the caterpillar, and are yet to change. The Old People did not respect God, and thought they were better than He was, so He brought down tribulation upon them. One of the Fringes people explains it as, “The Old People thought they were the tops, too…. All they had to do was get it fixed up comfortable, and keep it that way; then everybody would be fine, on account of their ideas being a lot more civilised than God’s”(p.153). The Old People needed to change their ways. The caterpillars must now go into their cocoon to recover, and find a new way of life.
Similarly, the Waknukians are the second stage of the butterfly cycle, the cocoon or the chrysalis, and they are in the middle of transforming. The Waknukians are trying to change and be perfect in God’s eyes. Some of the Waknukians are changing, and developing powers that are unheard of and abnormal. They are able to communicate telepathically using thought-shapes, but are not being accepted into their community as the community is closed off in their cocoons. When Uncle Axel finds out David is able to communicate telepathically, he says, “It would be best if you could forget it altogether” (p.31). This is because all the other citizens would try to banish David as they have not evolved out of the second stage and cannot accept him.
Furthermore, the Sealand people are the final stage of the butterfly cycle, the butterfly, as they have finished transforming. The reader knows that almost all the people in Sealand can speak telepathically, and those who cannot want to be able to speak telepathically. All who can are welcome in Sealand. The Sealand lady explains the appearance of it as, “Then, somehow, the strain of people who could think-together began. In time, those who were able to do it best found others who could do it a little, and taught them to develop it. It was natural for the people who could share thoughts to tend to marry one another, so that the strain was strengthened” (p.157). The Sealand people have emerged from their cocoons, will full butterfly wings ready to change the world.
In conclusion, the word Chrysalid suits the title of the book, and represents the Modern people, the Perfectionists and the New People. The reader can see that the types of people went through a whole cycle of rebirth, and are now new. John Wyndham was able to choose a great title for this book, The Chrysalids.
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