The Chrysalids

The Chrysalids Imagery

The Badlands and Blacklands

This imagery appears in the descriptions of what the world outside of Waknuk is like, and how unlivable and dangerous the area is. Uncle Axel describes the Blacklands and the Black Coast as a “desert of charcoal” (60), implying it was burnt to a crisp by the event that caused Tribulation. The Sealand woman also describes a horrific expanse of black melted glass and completely dead land as she travels over the expanse of Blacklands that lead up to Waknuk (179), even hundreds of years after the disaster occurred. The imagery of the Badlands and Blacklands emphasizes the bleak mood of the novel, and serves as a harsh image of what a world destroyed by humans could be like.


The mutations of humans are frequently described as monstrous, but the monstrousness of a person is also often contrasted with their humanness. The monstrosity of Spider-man, for example, is contrasted with his similarity to David's father. The only truly monstrous Fringes characters are the allegorical Hairy Jack and Old Maggie. The other "mutant" humans are characterized by smaller more innocuous and less monstrous-seeming mutations, such as the extra “awfully little toes” (54) of Sophie, or the way Harriet describes her baby's abnormality: “It’s such a little thing, you see. It’s nothing much” (70).

The True Image

The home of the Strorms is covered in the teachings of Nicholson’s Repentances, the same text that describes in detail the way a man should look, how many limbs, fingernails, etc., he should have. However, during one conversation between David and Uncle Axel, Uncle Axel says “a wax figure could have those things, and he’d still be a wax figure, wouldn’t he?”(79.) In this way, he casts doubt on the definition of the true image of man.


The novel begins with a dream that David has of a magical modern city that he has never seen, and the novel ends with David arriving in the city of his dreams, “Sealand” or Zealand. Sealand is described as having a pier with boats, large buildings that have lights at night, horseless vehicles on the streets, shiny bird-like objects flying in the air, and the ability to light up at night. To David, Rosalind, and Petra, the image of Zealand is a safe haven and new home.