I read this probably 30 years ago in school and the only thing I remembered about it was that it was the first time I had heard the terms "the norm" and "deviant". I had a chance to give it another read and I'm really glad I did.
It is a story about post-apocalyptic earth, or more specifically Labrador in Canada. We learn that something incredibly drastic occurred possibly a thousand or more years ago that involved radiation and it has caused widespread genetic mutations. The people of Labrador cannot venture far from home either as radiation levels increase further down the coast. And what do God-fearing people in close quarters do when they are scared to death? They teach their children that it's the fault of humanity for not following the teachings of the bible...and they teach their children, etc, etc. What these people latched on to from the bible was the interpretation of human. You needed to be born with two arms, two legs, two hands, four fingers, two thumbs, etc otherwise you were a deviant and had no soul. They also knew exactly what every animal and plant should look like so any deviations to "the norm" were destroyed. In the case of people, any deviations were sterilized and exiled to the badlands. An area still suffering from a higher amount of mutations in all living things.
So many topics for discussion. I can see why this would have been chosen as reading material when I was in school. From society's concept of "the norm" to the benefits and downfalls of religion, or more specifically the bible. The rights of one part of society to condemn to death another part for no wrongdoings other than being born looking different from everyone else. How parts of the world would evolve so differently if totally cut off from one another.
It's a story that makes you think...a lot, and they are my favorite kind.