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In this novel, the themes are very hypocritical. The people of Waknuk disapprove of everything abnormal unless it directly improves their way of life. For Example, the two great horses that belonged to Angus Morton. They did twice the work, but required less than twice the feed. Thus were approved by the government. The people of Waknuk differ very little from the way we see things today. If professional basketball was commonly played in Waknuk, then I doubt that Gordon Strorm, or “spider-man” as David called him, would have been banished to the Fringes.
A majority of the story takes place in a post nuclear war era when all technology had been eradicated, and basically been sent back to the beginning of the eighteenth century. “The Old People” are constantly referred to. These people would most likely be people from our generation. This is only the situation in Waknuk though. Waknuk is located North-East of Ottawa, in Labrador. The border between the badlands and the fringes is almost parallel with the Ontario-Quebec border. Sealand, or New Zealand has almost escaped nuclear war. Their society is more advanced than today’s, and their only real deviation ESP (Extrasensory Perception). They have harnessed the power of the internal combustion engine, and flight. Comparing the two civilizations is like comparing eighteenth century Europe, with futuristic North America.
This is a story about a group of nine young people who have the ability to communicate telepathically. They live in a society where any physical or mental deviation is considered the Devil’s work and must be gotten rid of. David’s father, an overly religious man, feels that no deviation should be left untouched, and pressures these beliefs onto his family. In the beginning of the story, David finds out about Sophie’s extra toes, and realizes a deviation isn’t as bad as his father had been telling him all these years. Thanks to Allan Ervin, the Wenders had to leave Waknuk, but before they had a chance to escape, were captured. As life goes on, David realizes that he has a deviation of his own. Uncle Axel helps David to realize that him being able to communicate with everybody else that had this special ability was a deviation. When David’s younger sister Petra was born, the group realized that she, too, was telepathic. But compared to the others, her power was titanic. But Petra was too young to control her thoughts, and this caused many problems. Eventually, David, Petra, Rosalind, Sally, and Kathrine are found out. Sally and Kathrine were the only people who got caught. David, Rosalind, and Petra got away while Mark and Rachel were undiscovered. As for Michael, he followed everybody into the fringes when they went to hunt the trio down. He was able to give the fugitives an advantage. The three escapees were caught by the deviant occupants of the fringes, but were rescued and hidden by Sophie, who was until now, presumed dead. Meanwhile, Petra had been in contact with a stranger from Sealand (New Zealand) where apparently everyone is capable of telepathic communication. The group of religious people confronted the fringes people, and a battle breaks out. Most of the important characters die at this point, because of the deadly filaments that the Sealand people brought. All of “the group” survives by being sprayed with a substance that causes the filaments to disappear. David, Petra, and Rosalind are taken away to Sealand, but Michael is given the opportunity, but turns it down, because he does not want to desert Rachel.
As the novel starts out, the atmosphere is one of curiosity, as you wish to learn more about their society and beliefs. But, once you do learn of these, the atmosphere turns into one of fear and disapproval. For they are trying to restore the technology and the purity of the human race, because this is what they interpreted from the old peoples books,(the bible) and the ideal image of man. By the end of the novel, I feel that the atmosphere has turned into one of hope. Well, for David, Rosalind, and Petra any ways.
David Strorm is a young man who would have inherited his father’s farm, and Waknuk. He is in love with his cousin, Rosalind. He has an older sister, Mary, and a younger sister, Petra. He did not have many friends growing up, except those who were telepathic.
Rosalind Morton is the daughter of Joseph Strorm’s rival, Angus Morton. She is in love with David, and is also one of the telepathic group.
Petra Strorm is a young girl , who is the only person capable of contacting the lady from Sealand. She has an older brother, David, and an older sister, Mary. She ran away with David and Rosalind when their secret was revealed. Petra was also telepathic.
Joseph Strorm is a strong and big man who owns and runs Waknuk. He is in constant competition with Angus Morton, and reward those who report deviations on his farm. He is constantly bickering with the inspector, and is a very God fearing man.
Anne is a nineteen year old woman who was married to Allan Ervin before he was killed and she committed suicide. She lived with her sister, Rachel, before marrying. Anne is also telepathic, as is her sister, but she stopped communicating when she married Allan. But when she committed suicide, she left a note naming all of them and revealing their secret.
Sophie Wender is a girl who had an extra toe on each foot. Because of this she was banished to the Fringes. She is in love with David, and Gordon Strorm (Spider-man), but is incapable of having any children.
Aunt Harriet is David’s Mother’s sister. She gave birth do a child with a deviation. Because of this she feared her husband would leave her, because she could not bear any normal children.
Uncle Axel is David’s Uncle. He is the man who told David of all the places he could run to, and how to get to them. He also told David to keep his secret to himself, which prevented him from getting caught. For a while anyways.
Gordon Strorm, or “spider-man” as David called him, is Joseph’s older brother, who had his certificate of normality revoked at age four because of his abnormally long limbs. He is in love with Sophie, but wishes that she could have children. He was going to take Rosalind to bear his children.
Emily Strorm, David’s mother, is sister to Harriet, and turned her away when she asked to borrow Petra when she was a baby, just so that they could pass the inspection, for the child had a small abnormality.
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