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A Wrinkle in Time

Madeleine L'Engle

Chapter 9: IT

Chapter 8: The Transparent Column

Chapter 10: Absolute Zero

Summary

Meg rushes forward to her father in his column, but she cannot penetrate its surface, and her father cannot see or hear her. In frustration, she hurls herself at Charles, but he punches her in the stomach. Calvin nearly releases the real Charles by reciting the lines from Shakespeare's The Tempest, which Mrs. Who gave him, but Charles ultimately remains in thrall. Finally, at wit's end, Meg remembers Mrs. Who's spectacles. By putting them over her eyes and throwing herself at the column, she successfully gets through to her father and stands by his side.

Mr. Murry is overjoyed at his daughter's arrival, though he cannot see her until he puts on Mrs. Who's spectacles. By wearing the spectacles and carrying Meg in his arms, he is able to escape the column with her. When they emerge, Charles Wallace behaves insolently and obnoxiously toward his father, and Meg assures her father that this is not the real Charles Wallace. Charles tells them that he must take them immediately to IT. Mr. Murry is horrified, and insists that Meg will not be able to survive the encounter. However, they have no choice but to follow the youngest Murry child.

Charles leads them out of the CENTRAL Central Intelligence Building and into a strange, domelike edifice pulsing with a violet glow. Inside, Meg feels a steady pulsing that seems to force the beating of her heart to conform to its rhythm. The building contains nothing but the feel of the pulse and a round central dais containing a revoltingly large living brain. Mr. Murry shouts out to Calvin and Meg that they must not give in to IT's rhythmic control. Meg tries to shout out the Declaration of Independence, the periodic table, and the irrational square roots, but her mind nonetheless begins to slip into IT's control.

Seeing that Meg is about to be lost to IT, Calvin commands everyone to tesser. Mr. Murry grabs her wrist and Meg feels herself torn apart in the whirlwind of tessering.

Commentary

In an attempt to fight IT, Meg and Calvin invoke the same creative geniuses who Mrs. Whatsit initially told them had dedicated their lives to waging war with the Dark Thing. Thus, Calvin quotes Shakespeare and Meg recites Jefferson's Declaration of Independence in resistance to the rhythmic of IT's pulsing power. Meg's choice of the Declaration of Independence is significant, for this document protests the principles of conformity and uniformity that characterize a monarchy or, here, life on Camazotz. On Camazotz, people do not have individual rights because they are all exactly the same. Moreover, no one has the freedom of self-determination or the inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness because all of their pursuits are dictated by a cold, disembodied brain.

When the Declaration of Independence fails her, Meg begins reciting the irrational square roots. She cannot recite the rational roots of perfect squares such as 1, 4, and 16, because these will too easily lapse into IT's evil rhythm. Only the irrational roots, with their long, awkward, non-repeating decimal values, stand a chance against IT. Again, this choice is significant; in resisting IT, Meg fights the tyranny of a rational brain devoid of the irrational qualities--the passions, emotions, and foibles--that make us human.

By representing IT with a disembodied brain, L'Engle comments on the dangers of intellect untempered by emotion. Such pure rationality precludes individuality; without emotion, people are mechanical, robot-like creatures identical to one another. Only when we can feel love and pain can we think creatively and develop as unique individuals.

Attempting to fight IT on the strength of his exceptional intelligence, Charles Wallace fails to withstand the evil force; his intellect alone is not sufficient. Charles's downfall results from his failure to heed the advice of the Mrs. W's: Mrs. Whatsit told him to beware of pride and arrogance, but Charles still thought that he could resist IT single-handedly; Mrs. Who warned him to remember that he does not know everything, but Charles nonetheless warmed to the Man with the Red Eyes when he praised his neuropsychological complexity; Mrs. Which told all of the children to stay together at all times, but Charles insisted on going off with the Man in the CENTRAL Central Intelligence Building. Charles's downfall demonstrates that intelligence and intellect alone cannot resist the tyranny of uniformity.

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Chapter 1-3

by liltwirler2001, September 30, 2013

These chapters are a great add to the story. AMAZING!

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