The Chrysalids Symbols, Allegory and Motifs

The Chrysalids Symbols, Allegory and Motifs


The most prevalent symbol in the book, by far, is the horse. Horses run rampant throughout the book and so serve a variety of metaphorical purposes. The horse quickly is situated as a representation of escape due to the animals literally being ridden as a means of escape. In concert with this thematic agency, horses ridden bareback or otherwise unrestricted by the dominion of humans come to figurative denote the idea of freedom.

Sophie's Death in the Dream

David has a dream in which his father cuts Sophie’s throat like the animal being led to slaughter. This act is laden with religious symbolism as the traditional dream imagery of lamb being led to slaughter is inextricably tied to the sacrifice of Jesus of on the cross. On a more literal level, Sophie’s death in David’s dream is a symbolic foreboding of a coming threat in the waking world.

Genetic Mutation

Any divergence from the genetic norm is not merely considered viewed by the Labradorian authorities as not evolutionary hiccup, but as nothing less than abomination against God. From Sophie’s sixth toe to mutated cat that attacks Petra’s horse as blasphemous stains upon the purity of their society that must be forcibly removed from the equation in order to avoid both scientific and spiritual toxicity.

David’s Parents’ House

The house that David’s parents call home is of sturdy physical construction, but that is taken to an extreme in their solid conviction that this is an ideal metaphor for the even sturdier construction of their morality and purity. As if to punctuate this point, the house has been decorated by David’s mother with proverbial nuggets from the book of Repentences which is filled with spiritual wisdom underscoring the irrefutable quality of conformism.

The Steam Engine

The steam engine symbolizes the superior wisdom and power possessed by the Old People in comparison to contemporary society. Not only does is the actual steam engine itself a literal representative of the known power that existed in the old days, it works as a figurative symbol of the lost or as-yet-undiscovered lost power of the Old People that potentially makes the steam engine look primitive by comparison

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