A Wrinkle in Time summary



A Wrinkle in Time summary


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A Wrinkle in Time summary


A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle


Summary of the Plot
A Wrinkle in Time is the first in a series of four books that follow the adventures of Meg Murry and Calvin O'Keefe. The book begins by relating Meg's personal struggles at school and her inability to fit in with the crowd. This is also a problem for her younger brother Charles Wallace. Everyone thinks he is dumb, though both children are extraordinarily intelligent - indeed, Charles Wallace could easily be considered a genius. Beyond that, Charles Wallace also has the unique gift of being able to read the minds of others.
Charles Wallace befriends a strange group of women living nearby - Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which. These three ladies soon take the children on a strange journey, promising to help them find and rescue their father who has been missing for two years. One afternoon, after meeting Calvin near the ladies' house, the three are swept off to another planet, Uriel, through the process of the tesser - the process of wrinkling space and time.
On Uriel, the children are given a view of the Dark Thing, a massive blackness that threatens to overtake the universe and that is threatening Earth. The ladies tell the children that this is what their father is fighting. After a visit with the Happy Medium, an oracle who tells them what path they must follow, the children are taken to the planet of Camazotz, a planet overtaken by the Dark Thing. On Camazotz, everyone acts exactly like everyone else and all creativity has been expunged from the planet. The children meet the Man with the Red Eyes who tries to "hypnotize" them into following IT. Charles Wallace eventually gives in with the hope of defeating the Dark Force, but he is taken in by the powerful evil.
They are then taken to see Meg's father who has been imprisoned by IT. After Meg heroically rescues him from his glass chamber, Charles Wallace, still under IT's influence, takes them to see this IT. IT turns out to be a large, dismembered brain. It pulses and tries to hypnotize both Calvin and Meg, but Mr. Murry saves them both by tessering off the planet just as they are about the fall under its power.
On another planet, Ixchel, Meg is healed by a giant, tentacled beast called Aunt Beast. Aunt Beast shows her the meaning of true love and soon gives her the strength to offer her self to save Charles Wallace. Alone and back on Camazotz, Meg confronts IT face to face, and, using the only power that IT does not have - love - is finally able to defeat it. IT only wields the power of hate, and almost overtakes her, but Meg's love for her brother is stronger than the hate of IT. As she and the rescued Charles Wallace embrace, they are tessered back to earth where they are reunited with their family.

Character List/Summary and Analysis
Meg Murry lives in a small town with her mother and three brothers. She is portrayed as an awkward girl who doesn't do particularly well in school nor fit in with the popular crowd. However, this apparent mediocrity conceals her extraordinary math abilities - a subject her father taught her before he disappeared.
Meg's chief struggle in the book involves the challenge to either disown or embrace her particular genius and idiosyncrasies. Ultimately she learns that her personal differences are weapons in her own fight against the Dark Thing and her efforts to save her father.

Charles Wallace is Meg Murry's 5 year old brother, who speaks like an adult and has the IQ of a genius. He has the strange gift of being able to read other people's minds and thoughts. His chief struggle in the book is embracing his childhood, though he knows he is infinitely smarter and more talented than the children around him.

Calvin O'Keefe travels with Meg and Charles Wallace through space and time to help rescue Meg's father. During the trip, Meg and Calvin grow very fond of each other and begin a courtship. Calvin, as a brother to eleven other siblings, struggles with issues of fitting into his own family. He laments that his family would not even care if he were missing, though he still loves them very much. He is also very different than his family, and exhibits genetic traits not shown in other members of a family. This, he says, makes it even harder for him to fit in. He exhibits a special talent, however, for persuading people towards particular points of view. This is a talent that comes in handy during the children's quest to find Meg and Charles Wallace's father.

Mrs. Whatsit is one of the three ladies who help Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin travel through time to fight the Dark Thing and rescue Meg's father. At the beginning of the book, she steals sheets from a townsperson, which causes some to believe her to be a tramp. She, however, is a clumsy and, often silly, lady who befriends Charles Wallace and offers moments of comic relief on their journey. Mrs. Whatsit, in a previous life, was actually a star. She lost her star life doing battle with the Dark Thing; and though she managed to wound the Dark Thing, she herself lost her ability to shine in the sky.

Mrs. Who is one of the three ladies that help Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin travel through space and time during their quest. She has the idiosyncratic habit of quoting lines from famous literature and philosophy in order to shed light on perplexing moral and ethical dilemmas that the children face on their journey.

Mrs. Which is one of the three ladies who help Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin travel through time and space in order to fight the Dark Thing and rescue Meg's father. Mrs. Which is the oldest of the three ladies (being many hundreds of millions of years old) and also their leader. She has the particular talent of wrinkling time and space in order to let the children travel great amounts of distance to far planets. She very often does not materialize as an actual person but remains a presence that the children can hear and feel.

Mrs. Murry is Meg and Charles Wallace's mother. She is a scientist and, with Meg's father, comes up with the notion of the tesser, the wrinkle in time. She is greatly troubled by her husband's disappearance, though she has the ability to control her emotions for
her children, a talent that Meg greatly envies. Mrs. Murry keeps her hope alive by writing letters every night to her missing husband, though these letters are never delivered.

The Dark Thing it is not a character in a physical sense, but personifies evil in the universe. It is described as a black force that blots out the light of stars and planets in the universe. Stars can combat the Dark Thing, but in order to defeat it, they will necessarily lose their own lives.

The Happy Medium is an oracle-like character who is able to view different places and different times through her crystal ball. The children meet her in a cave, and though she hesitates at showing them evil and unpleasantness in the universe, she is able to better explain to the children the nature of the Dark Thing and its power.

Mr. Jenkins is Meg's high school teacher. She is sent to his office after a sarcastic comment in class, and though he tries to understand the situation with her missing father, he ends up being just as uncaring and cold to her as others at the school and in the town.

Sandy Murry is Meg's little brother and the twin of Dennys Murry.

Dennys Murry is Meg's younger brother and twin brother to Sandy.

IT is the novel's main antagonist. IT is a dismembered brain that resides on the planet Camazotz. IT controls the thoughts and actions of everyone on the planet, stealing the creative energy of the individual.

The Man with the Red Eyes first captures Charles Wallace and is the leader of the CENTRAL Central Intelligence. The man, however, is only a shell through which IT directs ITs energies.

Mr. Murry is Meg's father, who had been captured by IT while trying to tesser through the universe. He had been held captive on Camazotz for almost two years before Meg rescues him. He is a scientist who works on experiments for the government.

Aunt Beast is a tentacled creature that heals Meg after a dangerous tesser to the planet Ixchel. Aunt Beast has no eyes, but has other deep senses. Aunt Beast possesses an inner goodness that heals Meg and teaches her about love.

General Themes
-The battle between good and evil
-The Christian framework of the novel
-Individuality vs. Conformity
-The intersection of faith and reason
-The love of family
-The nature of evil

Key Facts
Full title • A Wrinkle in Time
Author • Madeleine L’Engle
Type of work • Novel
Genre • Science ficiton
Language • English
Time and place written • between 1959-1960 in Connecticutt
Date of first publication • 1962
Narrator • Third-person
Setting • the planets Camazotz, Ixchel and Uriel
Point of view • Narrated in the third person (limited omniscient)
Tense • Past
Tone •

Important Quotes
"But you see, Meg, just because we don't understand doesn't mean that the explanation doesn't exist."

"Nothing is hopeless; we must hope for everything."

"a straight line is not the shortest distance between two points..."

"Suddenly there was a great burst of light through the Darkness. The light spread out and where it touched the Darkness the Darkness disappeared. The light spread until the patch of Dark Thing had vanished, and there was only a gentle shining, and through the shining came the stars, clear and pure." 

"As the skipping rope hit the pavement, so did the ball. As the rope curved over the head of the jumping child, the child with the ball caught the ball. Down came the ropes. Down came the balls. Over and over again. Up. Down. All in rhythm. All identical. Like the houses. Like the paths. Like the flowers."

"Like and equal are not the same thing at all!"

"We do not know what things look like, as you say... We know what things are like."

"It seemed to travel with her, to sweep her aloft in the power of song, so that she was moving in glory among the stars, and for a moment she, too, felt that the words Darkness and Light had no meaning, and only this melody was real."
 "You're given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself. What you say is completely up to you." 
"Love. That was what she had that IT did not have."

Important symbols
The rainbow is a symbol of hope and divine grace derived from the Book of Genesis.
IT symbolizes the source of evil throughout the universe.

Author Information
Madeleine L'Engle was born in New York City in 1918 to a foreign correspondent and a gifted pianist. An only child, she had a great love of reading and drawing. After attending several boarding schools in Europe and the U.S., L'Engle graduated from Smith College in 1941 and went on to pursue a career in theater. In 1946, she married Hugh Franklin and the couple moved to New York City. There, L'Engle spent her time helping her husband in their general store, raising three children, and writing her first novels. Today, Madeleine L'Engle has over 35 books to her name, including science fiction, suspense novels, novels for young adults, poetry, plays, and nonfiction. Nearly all of her books reflect her struggles with Christian theology and her fervent belief in the values of family love and moral responsibility. A Wrinkle in Time, one of her earlier novels, is a blend of science fiction and fantasy, aimed at a young adult audience.
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