Page 5. " the wonderful world that the Old People had lived in; as it had been before God sent Tribulation "

The Tribulation is referred to in the King James Version of the Bible in Matthew 24:21.

“For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.”

It is thought to refer to a brief phase of time where followers of God will be persecuted around the world and be purified and strengthened by it.

Page 5. " so that even my left-handedness caused slight disapproval "

For many hundreds of years left-handed people were treated with suspicion and disapproval. This probably originates with folklore associating the Devil with the left hand in various ways. He is portrayed as being left-handed and was thought to baptise followers with his left hand.

Left-handedness as a curse may also be associated with the Latin word for left, 'sinestre', from which came the English word 'sinister'.

There are also unfavourable references in the Bible including:

“Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, 'Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world'... Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, 'Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels'." (Matthew 25:31-34, 41)


Page 9. " I didn’t even notice then that it had more than the usual number of toes "

Left foot with postaxial polydactyly of 5th ray
GNU Free Documentation LicenseLeft foot with postaxial polydactyly of 5th ray - Credit: Magnus Manske
Polydactyly, from the Greek meaning ‘many digits’, refers to a congenital developmental abnormality that results in humans being born with more than the normal number of fingers and and/or toes.

Mutations in the gene LMBR1 have been associated with polydactyly in humans and animals.

Page 10. " And God created man in His own image "

This comes from a Bible reference in Genesis 1:27, but was adapted to fit the anti-mutation ideology preached in the Chrysalids.

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

Page 13. " 'I’ll promise. I can swear, if you like,’ I offered "

To swear a solemn oath or vow is an ancient practice, during which a fact is stated or a promise made based on something the swearer considers to be sacred, often God.

Modern examples of this are the oath made by witnesses in law courts to tell the truth and the Hippocratic oath sworn by doctors to practice ethical medicine.


Page 16. " with all his worldly goods in a train of six wagons "

When the American West was colonized, settlers travelled in covered wagons in trains for safety and mutual convenience.

At night the wagons would be arranged into a circle to provide shelter from the wind and weather, and the animals would be corralled in the centre to stop them from running away and to protect them from being stolen.

Page 17. " our house as the first there, was called Waknuk "

The village of Waknuk in the book is based on the mining town of Wabush in southwestern Labrador, Canada.

Google Map
Page 19. " slaughtered the two-headed calf, four-legged chicken, or whatever other kind of Offence it happened to be "

Exposure to ionising radiation, of the type emitted by an atomic bomb, causes damage to an individual’s DNA leading to genetic mutation that can be passed on to future generations, as seen in The Chrysalids.

Page 20. " beyond it lay the Badlands about which nobody knew anything "

The Badlands are suggested to be the area nearest to the implied nuclear disaster, known as Tribulation.

Nuclear fallout is the residual radiation hazard that occurs after a nuclear explosion, caused by radioactive dust in the atmosphere. It pollutes the ground, plants, animals, and humans it touches and would explain the gradual drop in the deviation rate described in the book from very bad, to bad, to moderate, to mild in the Badlands, Fringes, Wild Country and the Waknuk area respectively.

Page 22. " every year felling of trees and clearing went on to make new fields "

Deforestation to clear forests to grow crops or graze farm animals has always occurred, but in recent years it has become a real problem, especially in South America, as insufficient reforestation has resulted in damage to habitat, loss of biodiversity and soil aridity.

When carried out on a large enough scale it also adds to the greenhouse effect through a reduction in biosequestration of carbon dioxide.

Page 24. " One day I took her over our side of the big bank to see the steam-engine "
A mill engine from Stott Park Bobbin Mill, Cumbria, England
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeA mill engine from Stott Park Bobbin Mill, Cumbria, England - Credit: Chris Allen

The fact that the people of Waknuk are so proud of their steam engine, and that there is not another one for 100 miles, illustrates the extent to which technology and engineering has regressed since the Tribulation.

Not a great deal is said about the Waknuk steam engine, but it was probably of the type invented by Thomas Newcomen in 1712, principally used to pump water out of mines.