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.
Given Wyndham’s unstable childhood and young adulthood, with his parents divorcing at age eight and his failure at multiple careers, Wyndham's success is a feat in itself. Wyndham has a particular interest in human psychology and behavioral patterns. This accounts for the religious references in The Chrysalids , as well as for the varying personalities of characters in the novel and how they interact. Wyndham was inspired to write the science fiction genre because of an American magazine that he read called Amazing Stories in the late 1920s. He subsequently contributed a series of stories to Amazing Stories , as well as to another publisher called Wonder Stories . He also received the title of being the best British science fiction writer at least once in his lifetime. As his style focused on human behavior, he often featured irony, intentional ignorance, and hypocrisy in the characters of his novels. His books were so well received by his audience that 2 of his novels and 5 collections of his work were published posthumously.