A Wrinkle In Time Summary – Chapter 1
On a dark and stormy night, twelve-year-old Margaret Murry sits on the foot of her bed in the attic and watches the storm. Except for her, everyone in the house, including her twin brothers Sandy and Dennys, and her baby brother Charles Wallace, is asleep. Meg has had a bad day at school and cannot stop thinking about it. She is also upset about the fact that her father has gone missing.
The dog Fortinbras barks, and Meg remembers hearing about a tramp in the neighborhood who stole twelve sheets from Mrs. Buncombe, the constable’s wife. She wonders whether the tramp is heading for their house. She goes downstairs to make cocoa and finds five-year-old Charles Wallace in the kitchen. Charles Wallace says he knew she would come down, and Meg wonders how he knew. Charles Wallace always seems to be able to tell what she is thinking. Everyone thinks he is dumb, but Meg and her parents know that is not so.
Mrs. Murry joins them in the kitchen. Meg no longer feels fearful, and her mother tries to encourage her not to feel so bad about herself.
Charles Wallace mentions someone called Mrs. Whatsit, and says she and her two friends live in a house in the woods that is said to be haunted.
Fortinbras growls, and Mrs. Murry goes to investigate what has upset him. Meg thinks it must be the tramp. Her mother returns with someone who does look a bit like a tramp, and is all bundled up in clothes. It is Mrs. Whatsit, who was out in the storm and realized she was passing Charles Wallace’s house and thought she would stop by and rest. Meg is suspicious of this old woman, but makes her a sandwich anyway. Charles Wallace chats with Mrs. Whatsit, chiding her for taking Mrs. Buncombe’s sheets. Mrs. Whatsit replies that she needed them, while Mrs. Buncombe did not. Just before Mrs. Whatsit decides to be on her way, she tells Mrs. Murry, who is a scientist, that there is such as thing as a tesseract. She offers no explanation of what she means, but Mrs. Murry obviously recognizes the term, and is shocked. She wonders how Mrs. Whatsit could have known.
Chapter 1 Analysis
This chapter introduces several of the main characters in the story and gives them distinct identities. It also introduces two elements of mystery, and subtly announces two of the main themes of the novel.
The personality of Meg in particular is sketched in some detail. She is very dissatisfied with herself. She does not do well at school and she thinks she is dumb. She doesn’t fit in the way the twins Dennys and Sandy do. They are “normal,” but she is not. She thinks of herself as an oddball. She hates her appearance (she wears braces on her teeth and her hair is all over the place).
Charles Wallace is also described in detail. He is unlike any five-year-old who ever lived. No five-year-old talks the way he does. Charles has his own kind of maturity and knowledge, but it is of a different kind than is recognized by conventional society. Everyone thinks he is stupid, but of course he is not.
The characterization of Charles is one of a number of ways in which the author shows the possibility of a way of communicating that does not use words. Charles Wallace, for example, understands what Meg is thinking and doing before she thinks or does it. There is no need for words. Indeed, Charles did not start to talk until he was four years old. Given his mysterious precocity, it is appropriate that it is he who discovers Mrs. Whatsit and the other ladies. It seems that Charles is in tune with another world, another way of being, so to human perception he appears strange or even dumb.
A couple of times in this chapter, it is clear that in the Murry family, no pressure is exerted on Meg and Charles to be like other children. Mr. and Mrs. Murry are content to allow them to be themselves. The importance of this will become clear later in the novel.
The first chapter also gets the plot moving, and supplies two touches of mystery: the unexplained fact that Mr. Murry is missing, and the introduction of a term that will not be explained until later.
A Wrinkle In Time Summary – Chapter 2
Meg awakes in the morning, and thinks the previous night must have been a dream. In the kitchen over breakfast, her mother tells her it was not a dream. She knows what a tesseract is, but there is no time to explain it to Meg before Meg goes to school.
That day at school, Meg performs poorly, and is sent to the principal, Mr. Jenkins. The principal tells her she has the wrong attitude and needs to learn to apply herself. He asks whether Meg has had any news of her father. Meg is unwilling to give him any information. It turns out that her father is a physicist, and it is almost a year since they had a letter from him. Mr. Jenkins tells her she should face facts. He assumes that her father will never return.
After school, Charles Wallace takes Meg to see Mrs. Whatsit. On the way, they meet a boy named Calvin O’Keefe, who is two years older than Meg. When they question him, Calvin says he comes to the woods to get away from his family. As the children talk, Calvin discovers that Charles Wallace is not the dumb moron others had led him to expect. It also transpires that Calvin is on his way to the haunted house. He just had a feeling that he ought to go there.
The three of them go into the old house, where they meet Mrs. Who, one of Mrs. Whatsit’s two friends. She is sewing a sheet, and Charles rebukes her for having taken it from Mrs. Buncombe. Mrs. Who tells them that Meg’s father needs their help, but the time for it is not yet ripe. As they leave the house, Meg tells Charles Wallace that she does not understand. He promises to explain after they have all had something to eat.
Chapter 2 Analysis
Developing the theme of nonverbal communication hinted at in chapter 1, Charles tries to explain how he seems to be able to read people’s minds. He says it is a “sort of language, like sometimes if I concentrate very hard I can understand the wind talking with the trees.” Charles is the character who early on in the story prepares the reader for the unusual world that the children are shortly to experience. He is the link between the ordinary and the extraordinary.
Calvin is the opposite of Meg. He is successful and popular in school, and intelligent in a more conventional way than Charles Wallace. However, the fact that Calvin acts on his intuition rather than his rational intelligence in deciding to go to the haunted house is an illustration of what the novel abundantly shows: there are many kinds of intelligence, not only the type that is approved in schools, and which Meg is so conscious of lacking (see for example her boredom with what she is expected to learn in her social studies class). The relationship between Meg and Calvin also provides some gentle romantic interest for the story, although this is never allowed to take center stage.
The three ladies are carefully distinguished from each other. Mrs. Whatsit is friendly and eccentric. Mrs. Which, although she is also friendly, is more learned and philosophical. She is always quoting the observations of great writers.
A Wrinkle In Time Summary – Chapter 3
Meg, Charles Wallace and Calvin return to the Murry home for supper. Calvin calls his mother, even though he thinks his family does not care about him. He likes the Murry family and house, and when he sees a picture of Meg’s father he asks where he is. Meg doesn’t want to answer, and Mrs. Murry gets Meg to help Calvin with his math homework. Calvin is surprised at how smart Meg is. He is happy to have met Meg and her family.
After supper Meg and her mother talk. Mrs. Murry says how much she misses her husband. She also explains that Charles Wallace is different from other children, although in what sense he is different is hard to put into words.
Calvin and Meg go outside for a walk. Calvin asks her about her father, saying there are rumors that he left her mother for another woman. Meg is upset by this, but Calvin says he knows it is not true. It turns out that Meg’s father is a physicist working for the government on a top secret project. Meg knew he was traveling a lot, but she does not know where he was sent. At first he wrote every day, but then the letters stopped coming. Mrs. Murry has tried everything she knows to find out where he is, but all she is told is that he is on a secret and dangerous mission. Meg starts to cry, and Calvin comforts her. They are interrupted by Charles Wallace, who announces that they are going to find their father. Mrs. Who and Mrs. Whatsit mysteriously appear. Then a third voice is heard, and Charles Wallace says it is Mrs. Which, but she does not materialize completely.
Chapter 3 Analysis
Meg’s ability to solve math problems by using short cuts foreshadows the short cuts through time and space involved in the concept of tessering. That in turn rests on a practical application of Einstein’s concepts of the nonlinear nature of time. This is also foreshadowed in this chapter by the mention of Einstein by name, in the context of his famous equation from the Special Theory of Relativity, E = mc2. By hinting at these concepts now, the author is carefully preparing the reader for the adventures that are soon to take place.
This chapter also emphasizes once more how different Charles is, and how dissatisfied Meg is in being who she is. It also introduces the last of the three ladies. Mrs. Which is distinguished from the others by the fact that she does not fully materialize.
A Wrinkle In Time Summary – Chapter 4
The Black Thing
Meg suddenly finds herself alone in complete darkness. She has no idea what is happening to her. She seems to have vanished into nothingness. She is lost in a void. Then she hears Charles Wallace saying that they have had quite a trip. Calvin reappears too. Meg finds herself in a sunlit field, where everything is golden with light. There is an atmosphere of peace and joy. Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which arrive. Mrs. Who tells them they are on Uriel, the third planet of the star Malak in the spiral nebula Messier 101. Mrs. Whatsit says that they “tessered,” or “wrinkled” to get there. They are on the way to helping Meg’s father, but they have stopped on Uriel to rest. Mrs. Whatsit changes form and assumes the appearance of an unearthly creature. She looks partly like a horse, but with a torso, arms and a head like a man, but a man of greater dignity and joy than Meg has ever seen before. Wings extend from the creature’s shoulders. The children climb onto Mrs. Whatsit’s back and she flies through the air. They fly over mountains, fields and plains, passing many other similar creatures, who all make a kind of music as they fly. The music is like a song in praise of creation. Mrs. Whatsit gives each of the children a flower, telling them she will explain later about how they are to use it. As they begin to climb higher, the atmosphere gets thinner, and Mrs. Whatsit tells them to hold their flowers up to their faces and breathe through them. The flowers will supply them with oxygen.
They arrive on a mountain peak, from where they can see a moon of Uriel. As the sun sets, they see a faint shadow of darkness that seems to have a life of its own. The stars come out, but the dark shadow remains. Meg feels how terrible the shadow is, and is afraid. Calvin asks Mrs. Whatsit to make the dark Thing go away, because he knows it is evil.
They travel down again, in silence. When they return to the field, Meg asks Mrs. Which whether the dark Thing is what her father is fighting.
Chapter 4 Analysis
This chapter develops the cosmology that underlies the novel, in which the entire universe is a battleground for good versus evil. The good is represented in this chapter by the creatures on Uriel. The Christian references are hard to miss. Uriel is the name of one of the archangels, and the music created by the great winged creatures is equivalent in meaning to the words from the Old Testament prophet Isaiah in praise of God’s creation. The Black Thing is the equivalent of the darkness described in chapter one of the Gospel of John: “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” That sums up the entire theme of the novel.
Mrs. Who’s comments about the inadequacy of trying to explain things in words should be noted. Of the three ladies, it is Mrs. Whatsit who is the best at explaining things. She says it is her one real talent, although even she admits that explaining things in words is so much more work, and takes so much more energy, than communicating them directly through some other means.
A Wrinkle In Time Summary – Chapter 5
Mrs. Which replies that Meg is correct. Her father is behind the darkness so they cannot see him. Mrs. Whatsit tells Meg not to despair. There is hope, even though the task is difficult. They must go behind the shadow, and to do that they must tesser again. She explains what tessering is. It is like taking a short cut between two points. Mrs. Who demonstrates by taking hold of a part of her skirt in her left hand and another part in her right hand, and then bringing her hands together. Meg doesn’t understand, but Mrs. Whatsit explains that they travel in the fifth dimension of space. She tries to explain to Meg the concepts of one-dimensional, two-dimensional and three-dimensional. The fourth dimension is time. The fifth dimension is a tesseract. Add that to the four dimensions and travel through space is possible without having to go the long way round.
One by one, Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which disappear as they tesser. Then there is darkness and utter silence. Meg’s body seems to dissolve. She feels great pressure and her lungs are squeezed together. Her mind is flattened out and she cannot think. Then she hears a voice saying they have stopped by mistake at a two-dimensional planet and must move on. Then the nothingness returns, after which she is pushed out of the fifth dimension with a jerk, and she sees Calvin and Charles Wallace again. Mrs. Which apologizes for her mistake, and Mrs. Whatsit tells them they are now in Orion’s belt. When Meg worries that their mother must be frantic over their absence, Mrs. Whatsit reassures her: they did a time wrinkle as well as a space wrinkle, so when Meg returns, it will be about five minutes before she left.
They all take a walk. The planet they are on is very flat, with no vegetation. They go into a cavern and meet a woman called the Happy Medium, who is gazing into a crystal ball. Mrs. Whatsit asks her to show the children their own planet. Meg looks into the crystal ball, sees the Milky Way, then Mars, then the Earth, but Earth is covered by a smoky haze. The shadow that darkens the earth is the same Dark Thing they perceived on Uriel. Mrs. Whatsit says it has been there a long time, and that is why the earth is so troubled. Mrs. Which says the Dark Thing is Evil, the Powers of Darkness. She says they will continue to fight it. The battle is being fought all over the universe. Coaxed by Mrs. Whatsit, the children realize that on earth it has been fought by people such as Jesus, Shakespeare, Einstein, Buddha, St. Francis, and many others. Mrs. Whatsit then says that their father is on a planet which has given in to the Dark Thing.
Chapter 5 Analysis
In this chapter, L’Engle makes imaginative use of the theories of physicist Albert Einstein. Einstein’s special theory of relativity (1905) and general theory of relativity (1915) revolutionized the way scientists understood the physical universe. According to Einstein’s theories, space is not three-dimensional and time is not a separate entity. Together they form a four-dimensional continuum called “space-time.” Some people believe that Einstein’s theories demonstrated that time travel, at least in theory, was possible. L’Engle insisted that the scientific concepts in her book were accurate, although the reader does not need to understand these concepts in order to enjoy the book. Science fiction writers have long envisioned humans traveling through time and space into distant corners of the universe, and scientific theories pale before the vistas that can open up to anyone with a fertile imagination.
The battle in the universe between good and evil is made explicit in this chapter, and shown to be the cause of strife on earth. It is easy to see why the children name such historical figures as Jesus, the Buddha, and St. Francis as being fighters against evil, but why are artists, writers and musicians included as well? The names Leonardo da Vinci, Shakespeare, Beethoven and Rembrandt are mentioned. This is because these men expressed their individual creativity. They expressed themselves in their work. The significance of this will become apparent when in the next chapter the children arrive on Camazotz, and discover what happens when individuality and creative expression are suppressed.
A Wrinkle In Time Summary – Chapter 6
The Happy Medium
They continue to watch the crystal ball. They see that where the light touches the darkness, the darkness vanishes. They watch as a star gives up its life in the battle against darkness. Mrs. Whatsit confesses that she was once a star, and had done the same thing.
Before they leave the Happy Medium, she shows the children, through her crystal ball, their mothers. First is Calvin’s mother, an unkempt woman in a dirty kitchen who is whacking one of her children with a wooden spoon. Then they see Mrs. Murry, sitting on a high stool in her lab writing on a sheet of paper. Meg knows that her mother is writing to her husband. Meg is filled with a desire to do something to find her father.
They leave the Happy Medium and tesser to Camazotz, which is one of the dark planets. They stand on a hill, and everything appears very much like earth. Down the hill, there is a town. Mrs. Whatsit says that she must leave the three children on their own. She confirms that Meg’s father is on Camazotz. Mrs. Whatsit gives each of them some help. She strengthens Charles Wallace’s ability to communicate with all kinds of people. She gives Meg her faults, even though Meg protests that she always trying to get rid of them. For Calvin, Mrs. Who gives him a hint by quoting a passage from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, about an imprisoned spirit. Mrs. Who gives Meg her glasses, telling her to use them only as a last resort. Mrs. Which then tells them to go down to the town, and not to allow themselves to be separated. Mrs. Whatsit tells Charles Wallace that he is in even more danger than the others, and he must beware of pride and arrogance.
Calvin, Meg and Charles Wallace go down to the town. They notice that all the houses look alike. Children are playing but they are all skipping rope and bouncing balls in exactly the same rhythm. Everything is identical. Then they see one boy who is not bouncing in rhythm. His mother emerges and looks shocked when she sees her boy. She grabs him and pulls him back into the house. The three children decide to investigate. They knock on the door of the house, wanting to return the ball. The woman denies that her boy dropped a ball, because all the children in their section are perfectly trained.
The children wonder why everyone seems so afraid. They move on beyond the houses to some apartment buildings. A boy delivering newspapers asks them what they are doing on the street. He talks about entrance papers and examiners and the Central Intelligence Center, which he says is located in the city. He boasts about how perfect the city is. He also says the city is home to IT, but does not explain what IT is.
The children continue to walk through the city. The people they observe seem peculiar, as if they are moving automatically.
In a section of office buildings, the children see the largest building they have ever seen. They realize it must be the Central Intelligence Center. They discuss what to do. Calvin says that if they go into the building they will be in terrible danger.
Chapter 6 Analysis
This chapter shows up close the kind of evil that has to be constantly fought. It is not the usual concept of evil. No one on Camazotz is being literally killed or tortured or imprisoned. The people claim to be happy, and the town the children find themselves in is very orderly. The great evil that must be fought is identified with conformity, lack of individuality, excessive bureaucracy, and central control. Since these qualities are common to communist societies, it is clear that there is a political dimension to the story, even though the evil is usually discussed as if it were a metaphysical principle, the dark element in dualistic Christian cosmology. It should be remembered that A Wrinkle in Time was first published in 1962, when the cold war between the West and the Soviet Union was at its height. The West embraced individualism and freedom, whereas the Soviet Union and its allies favored a society in which a central government planned and controlled all aspects of people’s lives. Camazotz, to put it bluntly, is a planet on which the communists have won.
A Wrinkle In Time Summary – Chapter 7
The Man With Red Eyes
The children decide to go into the building. The huge door opens automatically and they find themselves in a great entrance hall. Men in business suits are sitting on marble benches that line three of the walls. Charles asks one of the men what the procedure is. He replies by talking about presenting papers to a machine. He tells them he runs a spelling machine and has come to report that one of his letters has jammed. Charles makes a facetious answer that leads Meg to worry about his pride, which Mrs. Whatsit warned him about. The man says he does not want to get sent to IT, and adds that the children may be detained for three days.
The children are scared. They step into a room that has long rows of machines. Charles calls out that someone is trying to get inside his mind. At the end of the room sits a man with bright reddish eyes. Above his head is a light that throbs in a steady rhythm. Charles warns the others to close their eyes, otherwise the man will hypnotize them. The man says that will not make any difference, and that they must not oppose him. Soon they will not have the slightest desire to do so. He will make all the decisions for everyone on the planet, and they are all happy. He tries to get the children to say together the multiplication table, but they all resist, saying other things instead. Meg asks where they can find their father. The man tries to tell her that her father had not acted very much like a father, because he has abandoned his family, but Meg refuses to accept this. Then Charles Wallace darts forward and hits the man. Meg and Calvin hold him back. The man commands Charles to look directly into his eyes. Charles starts to walk toward the man, but Meg makes a flying tackle to stop him. The man is displeased, and says that if they want to see their father again, they must cooperate. The man arranges for delicious-smelling food to be brought to them, but Meg is suspicious. Even so, they all eat the meal of turkey. Meg and Calvin find that it tastes fine, but Charles complains that it tastes of sand. The man explains that this is because he can get into the minds of Meg and Calvin, but he cannot yet penetrate Charles. Charles decides that he must find out who this man really is. He will let the man into his mind, while trying to keep part of himself out. But he does not succeed, and his mind gets taken over completely. Meg realizes with alarm that Charles has gone.
Chapter 7 Analysis
The theme of evil as conformity and excessive bureaucracy is continued in this chapter. Camazotz is a world of machines rather than thinking people. Life on Camazotz is tempting in a superficial kind of way. Note that the man with red eyes promises the children a relaxing, easier life if they do not try to resist him. He appeals to the human desire to give up responsibilities, to be relieved of the burden of making decisions. The message is that although it may be harder to take responsibility for one’s actions, to make decisions and initiate action, and far easier to let someone or something else do it instead, that is not the true purpose of human life.
Another lesson to be learned is that humans must know their limitations and the attitudes that are likely to get them into trouble. Charles finds out in this chapter the consequences of pride, which is one of the Seven Deadly Sins in Christian tradition. Charles may be smart, but he would be better to hide how smart he is and realize his own limitations in this situation. He is much too sure of himself, and that is why he falls prey to evil. He underestimates the power of evil and does not know what weapon would be most effective to use against it. He does not realize that it is neither will power nor intelligence, but something else-something that will not be apparent until Meg learns what it is in the final chapter.
A Wrinkle In Time Summary – Chapter 8
The Transparent Column
Meg is upset and demands to know what the man has done with her brother. She feels that the boy is now only a copy of his former self. Charles, sounding like a recording, says that the man is their friend. But Meg knows that something else is looking out from behind Charles’s eyes, and it’s not really him who is speaking at all. Calvin grabs Charles, and Meg tries to hit the man, but they are both held back by three of his henchmen. Charles tries to tell Meg that she should relax and realize that all her troubles are over. She just has to submit and give in. Meg knows it is not really Charles who is talking to her, so she does not listen. Calvin asks the man who he is, and the man replies that he is the Prime Coordinator. He also says that Charles will take them to their father. Charles walks off down a corridor and the others follow. Meg persuades Calvin to try to communicate with Charles, and Calvin stares into Charles’s eyes, concentrating hard. But the attempt fails. Charles informs them that on Camazotz, all illness has been conquered. No one is allowed to suffer; the sick are simply put to death. He says that IT takes care of such things.
The three children walk through a transparent wall and find themselves in a small, square room. Charles continues his lecture, saying that everyone on Camazotz is happy because they are all alike. He uses the word “we” to include himself in this. He says that it is differences that cause problems. Calvin and Meg argue with him, and also ask him what IT is. Charles replies that IT is the Boss, that sometimes calls itself the Happiest Sadist. There are no individual minds on Camazotz. There is only one mind, and that is IT.
Moving down another corridor, they see into a room where the little boy who was bouncing his ball incorrectly is being painfully retrained. Further down the corridor, Charles again makes the wall transparent, and they look into another room. In the center is a round, transparent column, and inside it is a man. Meg recognizes the man as her father.
Chapter 8 Analysis
It is easy to see in this chapter and the previous one what Mrs. Whatsit meant when she said she would give Meg her faults. The personality traits that serve Meg ill at school are proving useful on Camazotz. She is belligerent, obstinate, uncooperative-everything she needs to be to escape the seductive but evil message given out through the hypnotized Charles and the man with the red eyes.
Meg is also learning a very important lesson. She was always complaining about being different. Now she sees what it is like when everyone is the same, and she realizes that “Maybe I don’t like being different, but I don’t want to be like everybody else either.” It is an important moment of self-discovery, and a refutation of what Charles is trying to convince her of-that differences create problems, and that everyone on Camazotz is happy because they are all alike.
A Wrinkle In Time Summary – Chapter 9
Although the children can see Meg’s father, he is unable to see them. Charles says the only way to save him is to go into IT. Calvin makes another attempt to get through to the real Charles, staring hard at him, but again he fails. Meg then remembers the glasses Mrs. Who gave her. She puts them on and flings herself at the transparent door. She goes through it instantly, runs to the column and embraces her father. He asks her what she is doing there; he is still unable to see her. Meg gives him Mrs. Who’s glasses, and then he can see. They escape from the column, with Meg clinging to her father. Mr. Murry tries to talk to Charles, but Charles only insults him.
Charles then leads the way to IT. Meg is in despair because her father does not seem to understand that Charles has been taken over by IT. They go down an elevator and out into the street. Meg wants her father to do something to save them all.
They go into a strange, domelike building. Meg feels a rhythmical pulsing; it seems as if something else is trying to control her breathing. The building is empty, but on a dais lies an oversized, disembodied, living brain. Meg knows this is IT. Her father shouts to them not to give in. As she feels herself being taken over by IT, Meg fights back, using the faults that Mrs. Whatsit had told her would be useful: anger, impatience, stubbornness. She yells out a nursery rhyme, then the Declaration of Independence. Charles says that on Camazotz, there is complete equality, but Meg replies that sameness is not equality. For a moment she escapes the power of IT, but then her control slips and she is in trouble again. Her father yells at her to recite the periodic table of elements, which she does. Her father then asks her what the square root of five is, so she must use her own brain. But she is still losing the battle to IT. Then Calvin tells Mr. Murry to tesser. Meg feels she is being torn apart by a whirlwind.
Chapter 9 Analysis
Meg still has a lot to learn. In this chapter, she shows a blind faith in her father’s ability to get them out of trouble. As she embraces him, she believes that “This was the moment that meant that now and forever everything would be all right.” But Meg is still thinking like a child. Before the adventure is over she will have taken some great steps toward maturity. She will have realized that she cannot always rely on others to save her; she must take action herself to accomplish the goal.
A Wrinkle In Time Summary – Chapter 10
Meg returns to consciousness only slowly. Mr. Murry confesses to Calvin that he had been on the point of giving in to IT when they arrived. He says that going to Camazotz was an accident; he had intended to go only to Mars, but the tesser went wrong. Tessering turned out to be more complicated than the scientists had expected. He says that playing with time and space is a dangerous game; they really know very little about it. Meg finally comes round, and realizes she is lying in an open field. She is paralyzed because she is frozen from head to toe. Again, she is upset that her father has not saved her. He confesses that he does not know where they are, and says she is frozen because they went through the Black Thing. They had to leave Charles Wallace behind because tessering might have been too much for him, given that he was controlled by IT. Meg is annoyed and impatient, and demands to go back to Camazotz immediately to rescue Charles. She no longer feels optimistic that things will work out well in the end, because her father has failed her. As feeling starts to return to her body, they all see three figures approaching them across the grass. These creatures are tall, eyeless and have tentacles, with heads but not faces. Meg at first feels only revulsion for them, but as one of the beasts picks her up in its tentacles, she feels warm and safe.
Chapter 10 Analysis
The Christian underpinnings of the story are apparent in the dualistic cosmology of good and evil, and the occasional quotation from the Bible. It is also present in more subtle form in this chapter. Mr. Murry tells Calvin that he was on the point of giving in to IT when Meg arrived, and “hope and faith” returned. Hope and faith are two of the qualities described in St. Paul’s famous chapter on love (I Corinthians, chapter 13). Paul writes that the greatest virtue is not hope or faith, but love. Meg will find this out for herself in the final chapter. At the moment, cannot understand much because she is too busy blaming her father and Calvin for their predicament.
A Wrinkle In Time Summary – Chapter 11
The beasts take Meg away, saying she needs special attention to counteract the influence of the Black Thing. Meg feels a supreme sense of comfort and security. Realizing that the beasts are good, she relaxes and falls asleep. When she awakes, the pain is only a memory and she is no longer paralyzed. The beasts have saved her. One of the beasts says they are talking to her father and Calvin, to come up with a plan that will help them. When Meg asks why it is so dark where she is, the beast does not know what she means by light and dark. Meg tries to explain it, but the beast says it sounds very complicated. The beasts do not have a concept of vision; they just know what things are like without seeing them in the human sense.
Meg wants to go back to Camazotz to rescue Charles, but the beast advises caution. It promises that they will not abandon Charles, but they have not yet decided on the best course of action. Meg eats the delicious food the beast offers her, and decides to call the creature Aunt Beast. Aunt Beast sings her to sleep with the most beautiful of music. When she wakes up, she asks Aunt Beast what planet they are on. The reply is Ixchel. Aunt Beast also explains that the beasts are engaged in fighting the Black Thing, and many forces in the universe, including God and love, help them in this battle.
Aunt Beast leads Meg to a large chamber, where she meets up again with her father and Calvin. But she is still angry with them because she feels they are not sufficiently concerned about the fate of Charles Wallace. Meg insists that their only option is to turn to Mrs. Whatsit and the other two ladies for help. She tries as hard as she knows to explain to the beasts who the ladies are, but they cannot understand her. Then Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Which and Mrs. Who suddenly arrive in person.
Chapter 11 Analysis
There are more lessons for Meg in this chapter. The benevolent beasts on Ixchel show her there is a way of knowing that does not depend on the sense of sight. They have no eyes, yet they know things intimately and completely, far more so than humans do. This is a confirmation for Meg of the earlier words of her mother, when she said that things can exist without her being able to understand why or how. Meg also receives more reminders of the inadequacy of words to explain things, and she gets an experience, from Aunt Beast, of unconditional love. The beasts, who function on a higher plane of existence and therefore do not need the limiting senses of humans, are in a sense an incarnation of the love of God. They do God’s bidding, along with all the other forces in the universe that are on the side of light against darkness. But Meg still has not learned how to harness that power in order to defeat IT and rescue Charles. She is still too ready to blame others, as can be seen when she lashes out at her father for his perceived lack of caring.
A Wrinkle In Time Summary – Chapter 12
The Foolish and the Weak
Meg pleads with the three ladies to help them save Charles Wallace. Mrs. Whatsit says that they can do nothing on Camazotz. She also says she will not allow either Mr. Murry or Calvin to return there. Meg realizes that she has to be the one to go back, since Charles understands her, and she is closest to him. Mr. Murry at first refuses permission, and Calvin joins with him. Mrs. Whatsit explains to Meg that if she goes, she will face great danger. Mrs. Whatsit cannot see into the future, so she cannot guarantee a successful outcome. Mr. Murry reluctantly withdraws his objections. Mrs. Whatsit gives Meg her love.
With the help of Mrs. Which, Meg tessers back to Camazotz. Mrs. Which tells her that she has something IT does not. It is her only weapon. But Meg must find out for herself what that weapon is. She goes past the Central Intelligence building to the dome that houses IT. Once inside, she can feel the insidious influence of IT. She approaches IT; Charles crouches beside it. Reading her thoughts, Charles tells her she has nothing that IT does not. She feels hatred towards IT, and starts to get sucked into it. Then she realizes that IT also possesses hate. And in a flash she realizes that what she has that IT does not is love. She looks at Charles, full of love for him. This love frees Charles from the grip of IT, and he and Meg embrace. Suddenly there is a whirl of darkness, and then Meg feels the earth beneath her. She and Charles have landed at home, in the twins’ vegetable garden. Calvin and her father are there too. Mrs. Murry emerges from the house with the twins, and there is a joyful family embrace. Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which make a brief appearance, before tessering off to some new location.
Chapter 12 Analysis
The last chapter demonstrates what has been implied all along-that love is stronger than hatred, that light is stronger than darkness. Love will conquer if humans remember its power and use it.
Meg’s dangerous journey back to Camazotz teaches her more lessons. It is significant that no one else can do this journey, not the ladies, or Meg’s father or Calvin. Meg must take responsibility herself. Significant also is Mrs. Which’s refusal to tell Meg what her greatest weapon is. Meg must find this out for herself. She cannot rely on others. This is the exact opposite of the kind of life that prevailed on Camazotz, where there was no individuality and no need for personal responsibility. There was also no danger on Camazotz since IT took care of every problem. But the message of the novel is that the exercise of individual moral responsibility is the real business of life, and this involves facing and overcoming real dangers.