In The Chrysalids , atmosphere varies extensively.
There is the normal interest at the beginning of a novel as the characters reveal themselves, and the plot unfolds. But the
stronger curiosity in this novel arises from the urge to identify the society. It is familiar, yet unfamiliar. Just when the
reader has determined that it belongs to the eighteenth century, somewhere in the Western Hemisphere, a vague reference is
given to suggest that this is not so.
Then, there is the peculiarity of the society itself.
These people seem like ourselves, but they have a disturbingly different set of beliefs, further piquing our curiosity.
As the setting, characters and background are established,
the atmosphere begins to change to one of fear. This occurs for two reasons. The amazing lack of charity, and unbending set
of rules in David's community are frightening in themselves but, by this time, we have come to know and like David and, realizing
that he, too, is a deviant, we fear for him.
Several incidents such as the flight of the Wenders,
and the suicide of Aunt Harriet, increase this fear. We now anticipate and expect that David will be discovered. When it finally
does happen there is almost a sense of relief.
By this time, though, an air of hope is present. Petra's
communication with a whole society of "thought-makers" gives some assurance that the fugitives will escape.
It is significant that the only other atmosphere of
importance is the pathos which surrounds Sophie and a few other unfortunates. Only at the very end of the novel are there
any feelings of joy.