A Wrinkle in Time

by: Madeleine L'Engle

Chapter 7: The Man with Red Eyes

The chapter again emphasizes the difference between appearances and reality, for many things on Camazotz are not as they appear. Charles kicks the Man with the Red Eyes because he seems somehow phony; the food that the man serves them appears to be a turkey dinner, but it is really just synthetic food formulated to taste like turkey. To Charles Wallace's penetrating mind, however, the food tastes like the sand it really is.

Meg will ultimately realize that the evil force represented by the Man with the Red Eyes lacks one thing that she has: love. Indeed, already in this chapter it is apparent that the inhabitants of Camazotz cannot understand love. The Man with the Red Eyes asks Meg why she wants to see her father, not understanding that her filial love for him is reason enough. The exchange recalls Calvin's earlier remark about the gossipy inhabitants of their hometown who invent stories about Mr. Murry's whereabouts: like the Man with the Red Eyes, "They can't understand plain, ordinary love when they see it."

Camazotz further resembles Earth in its inhabitants' expectation of conformity and uniformity. L'Engle writes that the men in the CENTRAL Central Intelligence Building "all wore nondescript business suits, and though their features were as different one from the other as the features of men on earth, there was also a sameness to them." So, too, does life on Earth often include situations in which the only difference among men is their facial features. Nonetheless, as Meg notes, on Camazotz everything adheres to a sameness lacking even at a table of men in corporate dress or a group of tuxedoed gentlemen. Camazotz is uniformity and conformity taken to the extreme.

When Charles calls Meg "belligerent and uncooperative," he echoes the words of her high-school principal Mr. Jenkins, who asked her if she "enjoy[ed] being the most belligerent, uncooperative girl at school." Charles, like Mr. Jenkins, has become a figure of uncompromising and unfeeling authority. His resemblance to Mr. Jenkins underscores the extent to which Meg's journey from Earth by means of a wrinkle in time is also a journey into the psychological content of her own consciousness. Through the transformed Charles Wallace, Meg revisits her memories of a crucial experience on earth.