The Chrysalids

The Chrysalids Summary and Analysis of Chapters 11-13


Chapter 11

The farming season in the following spring is much better, with fewer deviances; people are more cheerful. One day in the summer Petra goes on an adventure on her own with her pony, into the woods, where she is not supposed to go. David receives her distress call much like the last time, and again runs off in her direction. He cannot communicate with the others because Petra’s distress blots out all possibility of communication. He is concerned that too many of them will come and be in the same place at the same time, and that this will cause suspicion.

David finds Petra’s pony in the woods, killed by a deviant wild beast. As he shoots off his gun and misses, both Rosalind and Michael appear and shoot the animal with arrows. They find Petra and try to sooth her, but she continues to send out distress thoughts that block them from communicating with others. As they had feared, first Rachel shows up, then Mark; they are able to turn these two away so they are not all caught in a group. Soon after, Sally and Katherine show up as well. Around the same time, an unknown man, Jerome Skinner, shows up and asks what is going on. He acts suspicious of their story of having heard calls, because he had heard nothing. He reports that he is out on a patrol because there are Fringes spies suspected about, and advises them to stay clear of the woods.

Sally and Katherine later inform the group via telepathy that Jerome Skinner is a newer neighbor of theirs. They discuss whether he would have had reason to be suspicious or to know about thought-shapes. They decide that David needs to teach Petra about thought-shapes and how to better control hers.

David takes Petra fishing and they play a game where David projects images into Petra’s mind. He asks Petra to do the same, but she does it with such force that it “burns” all of the minds within range, including those of the rest of the group. David has Rosalind project an image for Petra as well, so she can understand that there is more to the group than just him. Petra reveals that she can also detect other people, from outside of the known group. David asks her to copy what they are saying so he can try to make out who they are, but he is unable to decipher anything.

Uncle Axel pulls David aside later to ask if he’s been careless. He reports that a neighbor, Jose Darley, has been asking about David and Rosalind. Uncle Axel tells a story about a man named Grouth, whom he knew when he was sailor. Grouth had two women and a man who worked for him and did everything he said; Axel believes Grouth knew a secret about them that they didn’t want anyone to know. Uncle Axel is concerned because he saw this same expression on Alan Ervin’s face. Axel felt he had to kill Alan to protect David and the others. David is shocked that Uncle Axel took this risk, but Uncle Axel assures him that it had to be done. However, both David and Uncle Axel agreed that the current suspicion does not have to do with Alan. David feels it may have to do with the incident of Petra’s pony. David brings his concerns to the group, and they agree that all of them should make arrangements to run away at a moment’s notice.

Chapter 12

David begins to pack a bag and get ready for a sudden departure, but does not finish before he goes to sleep. He is awoken in the middle of the night by Petra coming into his room: she received a communication from Rosalind that Sally and Katherine have been taken, and that they need to run away as soon as possible. Rosalind is annoyed with David for sleeping so heavily through the danger.

David and Petra meet up with Rosalind. They check in via thoughts with the rest of the group. Sally and Katherine are at the inspector’s office, and have agreed to act as if they know nothing, and are shutting their minds to the others to help them with their plan to act as if they are normal. Rosalind has taken her father’s two great-horses and saddled them with pannier baskets for the journey. Rosalind has already planned a path to leave the least trace possible. David is impressed by her level of planning, and Rosalind is irritated by David’s lack of forethought about the escape. Rosalind reveals that her mother helped her plan and pack up for the escape, because they had an unspoken understanding. David realizes he would never expect that level of understanding or sympathy from either one of his parents.

They stop for rest during the daylight hours, and David takes first watch while the other two sleep. David discusses their escape plan via thought communication with Michael. Michael is going to volunteer for one of the groups that is going on the hunt for Rosalind, David, and Petra, in order to keep David and Rosalind informed of where the group is. Michael and Mark agree to put out false rumors of where David’s group was spotted, so as to throw the search parties off their trail. Michael also advises them not to use a gun, and David reveals that the only weapons they have are arrows.

During Rosalind’s shift at the watch, she is forced to kill a man who followed their path. David wakes up to her her distressed thoughts and comforts her. During the day, while they continue to rest hidden, they receive a distressed thought pattern from Katherine and are alarmed. Sally reports that Katherine has been broken after being tortured. Sally later tells them she had to confirm the suspicions of the authorities as well after Katherine confessed. The authorities already knew about thought-shapes, David, Rosalind, Petra, but not about Michael, Mark, and Rachel.

Michael informs David’s group that a proclamation has been issued qualifying him, Rosalind, and Petra as deviants. The proclamation says that they may be shot if caught, but also that a reward will be offered to anyone who turns them in alive. David confirms their plan to continue traveling southwest to the Fringes. Petra is frightened by the Fringes because of scary stories that have been told to her about the mutants that live there, such as the allegorical figures of Hairy Jack and Old Maggie. Michael reassures Petra by telling her that the people who live there are just unfortunate and unhappy, cast out from their communities because they didn’t look like other people. They continue on their journey through the night.

Petra suddenly reports that there is another person communicating with her via thought-shapes. None of the others are receiving the communication. They ask Petra to copy what she is hearing so they can try to understand who this other person is, and communicate who they are. The woman communicates to Petra that she is in a place called Zealand. The group argues about whether Petra got the Z mistaken for an S, because the letter Z does not exist. “Sealand,” as they decide to call it, is made up of two islands, surrounded by water, and it is currently daytime there, reports Petra. Petra then describes a land with large houses, horseless carts, and things flying in the air, that sound exactly like the city David used to see in his dreams. They agree that Petra should continue talking to this woman from Sealand. They stop again for the day. Michael reports to them that trail of the great-horses was found, along with the body of the man Rosalind killed, and that Michael’s search party is now going to have to follow their path. They decide not to rest that day because of this new danger. As they head off on their journey through the forest, they encounter a man on a horse.

Chapter 13

David and Rosalind fire arrows at the man, and he shoots back. Rosalind shoots the man’s horse in the chest; the man is thrown, and they escape. After a few miles the forest comes to an end, and they have to cross a large area with farms. They note that the crops on these farms look unrecognizable, meaning they are closer to Wild Country, where plants are less pure. As they are crossing this area, they come upon new people; they ride quickly by them, while the people scatter in alarm.

They ride again through the forest for a while, and see plants that look more unusual. They choose a resting place, and Petra begins her conversation anew with the Sealand lady. Petra has to use a lot of force to communicate with her because she is so far away, and thus David and Rosalind are blinded by the “explosion” of Petra’s communication. Because David and Rosalind cannot hear or reach the Sealand lady, they must rely on Petra to communicate what she is learning. Petra relays the Sealand woman’s thoughts in a very simple way. The general message is that Petra must be protected, because she has a very valuable power. Also, they are sending help. Michael is confused because it seems to him that the Sealand woman is referring to their kind as primitive people. Also, it seems unlikely to him that the Sealand woman is located to the southwest, when all they know that the Badlands lie in that direction.

While resting, David is awoken by Petra because Michael has an urgent message: their trail was picked up in the small farm that they galloped through, and they have to move again. David asks whether they have heard from Sally and Katherine. They are afraid Katherine is dead, and they have only heard very weak signals from Sally. Michael is concerned because the authorities are clearly afraid of their kind, and Michael is afraid of what might happen if they capture Petra and Rosalind; he advises David to kill the two of them if that seems likely. Petra hears this and is alarmed. David calms her and asks her to keep it a secret from Rosalind.

As they continue their journey, Petra relates some more things she learned about Sealand. Everyone there can make thought-shapes, and no one is punished for it. Because of that, everyone can understand each other much better. Petra also reports that the Sealand lady has told her that "When I grow up I must have babies who can make strong think-pictures too" (145). They make their way through the forest in the dark, and shots are fired at them. Their horses start and run through the forest, battering David around in his pannier basket. The horses find each other again miles later. They find a trail and take that for a while, despite the risk. They think they are in the Fringes. Then, suddenly, something drops into David’s pannier and he is knocked out.


Because of the incident with the pony, the danger of Petra’s power revealing the others has increased, and the conflict of the novel is heightened. David and his community know that they are going to have to finally come face-to-face with their secret. David knows that his parents will not hesitate in persecuting him and his sister; thus, he is surprised to find out that Rosalind’s mother helped her in her efforts to escape. Horses play a large part in their escape, as Rosalind has taken her father’s controversial great-horses; once again horses appear as a symbol and means of escape, just as they were used by Sophie’s family.

As suspicion rises, Uncle Axel warns David, and tells a story of a man he once knew, Grouth. Uncle Axel uses Grouth as an allegory for what he does not want to happen to David and his telepathic group. Alan Ervin's similarity to Grouth is what gave Uncle Axel the clue that something was amiss. In a courageous act of friendship and loyalty to David, Uncle Axel chose to murder Alan Ervin.

David's characterization as a dreamer is demonstrated in these chapters. David is found to be sleeping at multiple times when he is needed by his group. Also, David has not been as active a planner as other members of the telepath group, such as Rosalind and Michael, have been.

Michael continues in his role as thel evel-headed leader of the group of telepaths, helping to direct the three’s escape plan and working from the inside of the Waknuk search party/army. His being a part of the manhunt for the telepaths is ironic because he is a telepath himself. Michael picks up on the superior tone of the Sealand woman, even though the woman’s voice is being translated through Petra. Michael questions who the Sealand woman is referring to when she mentions primitive people, because he only thinks of the Fringes as primitive. Communication with this new person is thus expanding the group's perspective on what civilization consists in.

Petra’s characterization is also solidified in these chapters. Petra is characterized primarily by her childhood naivety, in her fear of the Fringe people, and in her inability to read and write. However, she also is shown to be a resilient and thoughtful child, as she spends time trying to understand the bleak adult world that David and Rosalind are bringing her into. For example, she learns that there may come a time when David would have to kill her and Rosalind to save them from the pain of being tortured like Sally and Katherine were. Her characterization is continued through her conversations with the Sealand woman, and her learning about how special her ability is. In this way, Petra begins to develop a sense of pride and a sense of arrogance around her heightened ability.

Foreshadowing of the imperfections of the Sealand society occur in Petra's statement that she must have babies when she grows up. The role of women in Waknuk society has already been demonstrated to be limited to wifehood, motherhood, and reproduction. Petra's statement about needing to reproduce in Sealand is evidence that perhaps life in Sealand is not necessarily better, but just a different version of a similarly constructed society characterized by intolerance and othering (Krome, Loving & Reeves, 59).

Zealand and the Sealand woman are introduced in Chapter 13—almost 75% of the novel has already occurred, and these characters are a major part of the climax and resolution of the conflict. Some critics have referred to the Sealand woman as the deus ex machina of this story (Kratky 41)—i.e. some figure or event that comes in at the last minute and rescues the plot from a seemingly hopeless situation, to thereby secure a happy ending. This may be one way of looking at the Sealand woman’s role in the novel. However, David’s dream of the Sealand island was the image that started the book, thus foreshadowing the future home of David and his telepathic community. Interestingly, one of Wyndham’s literary influences, H.G. Wells, also used a deus ex machina in War of the Worlds.