Schnaucl's Reviews > The Day of the Triffids

The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham
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Jul 06, 11

bookshelves: fiction, library, july, post-apocalyptic, read_2011
Read on July 05, 2011, read count: 1

It's interesting to see how many of the post-apocalyptic tropes remain basically the same after 60 years. The cities are thought to be death traps because there won't be enough food and eventually the bodies will pose serious health risks. There are concerns that people have become so specialized that almost no one knows how to produce food or clothing. There's concern that a military weapon might get out of control and cause unintended problems. Although Edmund Morris says Wyndham's take on women is dated I didn't really feel that way. Yes, the women are wearing dresses rather than pants, but the idea that in a post-apocalyptic society men will do the hard labor and women will be baby factories and take care of the domestic tasks is still pretty prevalent in today's fiction. Even in Battlestar Galactica women are forbidden from having abortions (although there's no expectation that women have to have children and women were certainly doing the same work as the men). There was certainly some paternalism, particularly when it came to sighted women being better off with a blind man than alone but I wouldn't be surprised (appalled, but not surprised) to see a similar sentiment in contemporary fiction.

I was a little uncomfortable at how the blind were portrayed as nearly helpless but a newly blind person would probably react that way. There is one blind person who was blind before the meteor shower who appeared to be confident and capable. But there's no indication as to how or whether he will survive.

One of the things that I liked about this book was that it was more cerebral than typical post-apocalyptic fiction. It wasn't just the literary quotes (which reminded me of classical literature) but the discussion of how social mores must change in order to assure survival and what it takes to have a thinking class.

The part about the thinking class has really stayed with me, though it's not the first time I've heard the idea expressed. Is that why there's been such a strong anti-intellectual movement in America over the last decade +? Is it because the thinking class is "sponging off the working class?" Of course, the political leaders of that movement aren't producing goods and services either.

The Triffids are an interesting concept but they never felt like they were as much of a threat as the mass blindness. They're tall enough that they should be relatively easy to spot. They're dangerous on an individual level, but for a sighted person they can be dealt with. They're like zombies in that their primary danger comes from large groups. But unlike zombies not every sting is fatal. It may be that part of the reason they felt less dangerous was because the story starts with Bill being stung by a triffid but surviving. Early on he discloses that he's been stung multiple times and survived.
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