The Day Of The Triffids By John Wyndham

The Day of The Triffids - Powerful, provocative, futuristic with plenty to discuss



A classic and a firm favourite amongst our book club.

It's an easy read & yet it triggers all kinds of discussion & thoughts.

Wyndham writes on two levels; the adventure story for the YOUNGER READER & a story with serious issues & debates for the ADULT READER


Plot



The Day of The Triffids is a Sci Fi novel (but don't let that put you off)

A comet storm has left the majority of the population blind and London has turned into chaos.

There are also the triffids to contend with - a genetically modified plant (suspected to have come from the USSR) that can walk, communicate with each other and eats flesh - they have a whip like tail to capture their prey.

The story is of survival and how those that can see will stay safe from the Triffids.


Themes


John Wyndham is such a good writer that he guides us into a number of reactions to his tale & at different levels.



For instance, The Day Of The Triffids is a great ADVENTURE STORY. Will those still alive make it or not make it? Will they be wiped out or will they begin a new & better order? With its adventurous tone, it was a successful O Level book in the Fifties & Sixties.

Although there is no final outcome, Wyndham , who has presented us with a moral character in Bill, leaves us with a strong feeling that with people like him & Josella around, everything has a chance of turning out well. I think it could be a good student book now as the issues are as relevant today.


He includes A LOVE interest, (always of great value) in an otherwise desolate story & by doing so, provides a reason for Bill to travel around the centre of London & out into the country as he searches for Josella, eventually finishing up with her, their son & others, on the way to the Isle of White. In this way, we find out the extent of the devastation & meet a greater variety of characters.


He writes a story where at the point he leads the convoy to the Isle of White & the story ends, GOOD is definitely triumphing over EVIL. We feel that good will continue to flourish.

Above all, the book makes us think about human behaviour under extreme conditions; the situation brings out both the worst & the best in people. Perhaps we all hope we would be more like Bill & Josella; we would certainly be tested. This point takes up most of the book as we meet a variety of characters throughout the story & learn how they behave under these extreme conditions. A long time could be spent discussing a variety of incidents.

The Triffids


At last, The Triffids! Perhaps they should have been mentioned earlier but the other comments seemed to be more important.

They are responsible for the predicaments in the story & they obviously help to create desolation & menace. And they would have created a climate of fear in the Fifties reader. But, to me they are mostly useful to the writer for creating situations in which all the above could be explored!

To the reader who simply wants the adventure & to find out what happens to the Triffids, I think there could be disappointment, for most of the time, they simply hang about, waiting for opportunities to attack.

I got so tied up with the above, the Triffids didn't interest me that much; besides, I felt that setting them on fire regularly would have sorted them out!!

We read about much more frightening things today in Sci Fi so the Triffids didn't actually bother me that much. (Not that I would want them on my suburban doorstep.) They certainly added some much needed humour to the tale, (not intentionally I suppose) all those plants shuffling around the planet, "talking" to one another!! They were a bit hard to take seriously!

Questions?



How do you think you would cope under these extreme circumstances?

What does your book group think of the triffids? Sinister or Comical?


Genetic Engineering - Is it Right Or Wrong?

Satellites are orbiting their way around the earth? Should we be worried or pleased?

Survival of the fittest - Should the weaker (blind) be left or helped?

Josella says," How easily we have lost a world that seemed so safe & certain." P113 - What do you think we take for granted these days?

Do you think the reaction of readers in the 50's would be different to readers of today?


Like?


The Day of The Triffids scored 9/10 with our book club.

Our book group also voted The Triffids as Best Book of the year - which was quite contraversial as there was those in the group who loved it, and those that found the triffids too comical to award it as best book.

John Wyndham is a fantastic writer and for me The Day Of The Triffids above all else, makes us recognise the precariousness of our lives. We've come to rely on the following so much:

  • clean water from the tap
  • electricity for so many things
  • petrol for transport
  • prepared food on shop shelves
  • ready made clothes in great materials



This is a great novel and provokes fantastic discussion.

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