Character Naming in The Chrysalids
A character’s name can apply lots of insight to who the person is. Like many authors, Wyndham used genealogical meanings for each character in The Chrysalids. The name of each character is used as a symbol for that person’s characteristics and development throughout the story.
Each character’s name has a specific meaning that can be applied to the novel:
David is the main character of the story. The name means “beloved or friend.” The progression of the novel relied on David’s friendly and beloved character. He is trustworthy and cares for others. When David had found out about Sophie’s extra toe he did not report it to the authorities even though he knew it was the law; he learned this from his father who was greatly religious and involved with forcing his beliefs. David was friendly and helped Sophie hide the “Deviational” aspect from the society. Later when she was caught David had helped her escape. The plot establishes David’s caring nature as reflected by his name genealogy.
Petra is David’s little sister. Her Greek name means “small rock.” Wyndham applied the name since Petra is little and only six years old. However she has great capabilities with her mind to be able to communicate far distances. She is able to send her thought shapes from Labrador to New Zealand, where David and the others were only capable of sending them five to ten miles. Her Etymology suggesting that she is small but contains a strong power and punch like a rock.
Rosalind is David’s cousin, who can also create thought shapes. Her name means, “Fair rose.” The meaning connects to her great beauty that David had described throughout the novel. Rosalind and David are in love, the rose being the symbol for romance between the two characters.
Sophie is David’s friend who had the sixth toe and had run away when the society knew of her flaw. Sophie means “wisdom.” The meaning applies to the wisdom that David and the reader had gained about the corrupt society and destroyed world, as she is the one who introduces the plot of the corrupt world with her extra toe.
Uncle Axel is whom David relied on for advice. He was not able to create thought shapes but he introduced the societal situation to David and the reader by telling his shipping stories. Axel has two meanings: first, “source of all life” and second, “father of peace.” Uncle Axel was the first character to question how the country ran, criticizing the religious views of the society. He did not believe in the views that everyone must be in one form as what his and David’s society believes. He had been all over the world and seen other civilizations, allowing him to see a better look at the situation of the human species. Uncle Axel was also the person who had murdered Alan. Alan was going to reveal the fact that David and his friends can create thought shapes, which would of put them in great danger. Uncle Axel keeping the peace since he stopped that from happening.
Michael is one of the people who are able to create thought shapes. When David, Rosalind and Petra ran for the Fringes, Michael followed the army scouting to trap and interrogate them. Michael acted as a sort of spy for David. The name refers to St. Michael who was the conqueror of Satan and patron saint of soldiers. The name can refer to how Michael follows the soldiers as they march into the Fringes to attack and find David for interrogation. In the beginning of the novel the Fringes were said to be the place where Satan had dwelled. When Michael followed the army they were conquering Satan, which is not the Fringes but the mentality of how society was divided by race. Where in the end that division starts to disintegrate.
Meaning of names. 2004. June 13, 2009. <http://www.meaning-of-names.com/search/>