Summary (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)
A Swiftly Tilting Planet presents Charles Wallace with a quest to save the world from Maddog Branzillo, who would start nuclear war. He is given only an ancient rune as clue by a mysterious Mrs. O’Keefe. Charles Wallace goes out to the star-watching rock to contemplate and, after saying the rune, is greeted by Gaudior, a unicorn who takes him back and forth through time on the wind as he attempts to discover what in history caused the nuclear threat to appear in the present.
L’Engle explores the idea of the butterfly effect—the idea that one decision or flap of a butterfly’s wing can affect the present or the future—in this final novel of the original trilogy. She gives Charles Wallace the ability to go within people as he travels and to live through their eyes, hopefully changing for the better the outcome of his present. Charles Wallace’s mission is to find the might-have-been whom he can change, therefore preventing the present threat from ever having happened.
Meg is married and pregnant with Calvin’s baby, and her function in this novel is to support Charles Wallace and kythe with him her love and the information that she finds out about the history he is experiencing. The plot moves between her experiences of what he sees and his conversations with Gaudior.
This novel allows Charles Wallace to develop his talents and to learn patience and love for all the characters from history whom he inhabits. By...
(The entire section is 386 words.)
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A Swiftly Tilting Planet, follows the adventures of Charles Wallace Murry and a unicorn named Gaudior on a dangerous journey through time and space as they attempt to solve the puzzle that will avert nuclear war. Charles Wallace's sister, Meg, now married to Calvin O'Keefe and carrying his child, helps her brother by sending him information through a form of telepathy that L'Engle calls "kything." Together, Charles Wallace and Meg work to solve the mysterious identity of the crazed Latin American dictator, "Mad Dog" Branzillo. If they fail, he will initiate a nuclear war and bring an end to life on Earth. The Murry children have only twenty-four hours to solve the riddle. The puzzle is finally solved by Mrs. Murry, who, in previous books in the series, was portrayed as an exhausted housewife, made old before her time by too many children and too much work.
As in previous books, L'Engle draws on her knowledge of science and mythology to construct an engrossing story of the eternal war between good and evil, here waged across the boundaries of time as well as space. Charles Wallace visits and becomes a player in remote lands and times. During his journey to ancient Wales he "goes within" the person of Madoc, an ancestor of Branzillo's.
Here, and throughout the story, L'Engle elaborates on the principles of kything, the process of entering into another person's consciousness. Charles Wallace and Meg have long been able to do this with each...
(The entire section is 453 words.)
Chapter 1 Summary
The Murry family gathers in their home on Thanksgiving amidst a severe thunderstorm. Meg Murry O’Keefe, expecting her first child, has outgrown her teenage awkwardness into as lovely a woman as her mother, the Nobel-winning scientist. Mr. Murry, a physicist who is regularly consulted by the White House, is making a model of a tesseract with fifteen-year-old Charles Wallace, whose delayed physical development makes him look like a twelve-year-old. Sandy and Dennys, the twins, are home from law and medical schools. Mrs. O’Keefe, Meg’s mother-in-law, sits by the fire, withdrawn from the family that she resents. Calvin, Meg’s husband, is in London presenting a scientific paper. The family members discuss their childhood, when most of their meals were cooked by Mrs. Murry in her attached laboratory over Bunsen burners.
The phone rings and Meg answers it and gives it to her father—it is the President of the United States. Mr. Murry listens carefully, his face going blank. After he hangs up, he tells his family that there is a threat of war from “Mad Dog” (El Rabioso) Branzillo, dictator of the South American country, Vespugia. Branzillo has threatened to fire nuclear weapons at America, and the President has vowed retaliation if he does so. The threat of global annihilation hangs of the Thanksgiving dinner.
Mrs. O’Keefe, listening in to the conversation, tries to remember a poem from her Irish grandmother called “Patrick’s Rune,” beginning with the lines, “In this fateful, all heaven with its power….” As the storm intensifies, the electricity goes out, and Mrs. O’Keefe remembers the rest of the rune. As she chants it, the weather calms and the electricity returns. She tells Charles Wallace (whom she calls "Chuck") that he must use it to stop Branzillo. She asks to go home, and Dennys drives her. While Sandy prefers to dismiss her as an odd old woman, Mr. and Mrs. Murry take her seriously. Charles Wallace does as well, citing the effect her chanting had on the weather. Meg, ever protective of her baby, wonders what the outcome of the next twenty-four hours will be. She fears the end of the world, but Sandy and Dennys cynically say that the world has it coming. The abuse of the planet and the environment may be the cause of Branzillo’s threats. Calvin calls from London and speaks to each of the family members and tells Meg that he loves her. Meg thinks again about the rune that her mother-in-law...
(The entire section is 440 words.)
Chapter 2 Summary
Meg sleeps in her old bed in her childhood bedroom in the attic. She misses Fortinbras, the family dog, for the security he used to give. A kitten jumps on her bed, giving her what comfort it can. Meg hears Charles Wallace coming up the steps and entering her bedroom. He is troubled by the rune that Mrs. O’Keefe gave him and is not sure how it can be used to stop Branzillo. He asks Meg what Mrs. O’Keefe’s maiden name is, thinking it will be important. Meg cannot think of it and Charles Wallace tells her to relax so that they can “kythe,” an intense form of mental communication. He draws the knowledge out of her, and she says that the name is Maddox, and her middle name begins with a “Z.” Maddox sounds familiar to Charles Wallace; he remembers something connected to an old British poem about two brothers fighting. He says that he must go out to the star-watching rock, the special place where the members of the family seek solitude and where many of their adventures began. Meg wants to go with him, but Charles Wallace tells her that she must stay behind so that he can kythe with her here. Besides, he needs to be alone, since something is blocking his understanding. He warns her that he may be going somewhere for an indeterminate amount of time.
As Charles Wallace leaves, Meg lies down to sleep but sits back up when she hears a dog barking. She goes downstairs to find Charles Wallace and her parents with a dog in the kitchen. Mrs. Murry tells Meg that their new dog has found them. Meg feeds her, and Charles Wallace says that her name is Ananda, which is Sanskrit for “that joy in existence without which the universe will fall apart and collapse.” Meg asks her mother if Mrs. O’Keefe’s name is Branwen and Mrs. Murry says that the Maddox family used to be prominent in the area. Mr. Murry says he would like to research the history of the village but never has the time.
With his parents’ reluctant permission, Charles Wallace goes out to the star-watching rock and begins to chant Patrick’s rune. Immediately the stars increase in brightness and a beam of light flows down to Charles Wallace, solidifying into a unicorn. Charles Wallace is able to mentally communicate with the unicorn, who says his name is Gaudior, which is Latin for the same joy as Ananda is in Sanskrit. Gaudior is to take Charles Wallace where he can perform his mission. He warns the boy to beware of Echtroi, enemy spirits who are set on...
(The entire section is 467 words.)
Chapter 3 Summary
Meg discovers that she can kythe more easily with Charles Wallace if she rests her hand on Ananda. She goes back into Charles Wallace but sees nothing but darkness, yet the darkness is good. Light appears, and it is also good. Then a star swallows up the dark and becomes the dark, which is not good; the glory of the harmony of light and dark has been broken. She sees galaxies, solar systems, and planets rushing by until she comes to a planet just forming. Soon rain falls on the planet and cools it, and then the ocean appears. Dry land is formed and covered with green plants. Dinosaurs come to life and then die off.
Charles Wallace finds himself with Gaudior in a glade surrounded by antediluvian trees. When he asks Gaudior where they are, the unicorn replies that they are where they started out, but now they are in a different When, many years before the coming of humans. Gaudior explains that it is easier for him to travel through time than space. Soon they travel forward in time to the meadow with the star-watching rock, which is now a small mountain of stone. Gaudior explains that Charles Wallace has been called to accomplish a purpose, which is to a time where Might-Have-Been has yet to happen. He is to be sent Within someone and will change events to stop the evil that is now taking place in Charles Wallace’s world. Charles Wallace is frightened at the thought of going Within someone, losing contact with Meg and perhaps losing himself. Gaudior explains that going within is similar to kything, which relieves Charles Wallace somewhat. He gains strength from the fact that he must achieve this mission for the well-being of Meg and her baby. Gaudior and Charles Wallace move to a time when people inhabit the valley, which is now covered by a lake. Charles Wallace sees structures by the lakeside. He sees a young boy, who Gaudior explains is named Harcels, of the People of the Wind. Harcels calls for a creature similar to a dolphin. Gaudior says that Harcels can see him but is not surprised because nothing in joy is surprised or surprising.
In her bedroom, Meg realizes that Charles Wallace, from whose point of view she sees, is now Within Harcels. Gaudior tells Charles Wallace that he must lose himself Within Harcels, reminding him what is at stake if he fails in his mission. Not only will the earth be destroyed, but it will throw the rest of the universe out of balance.
Harcels has already identified himself,...
(The entire section is 546 words.)
Chapter 4 Summary
As Gaudior carries Charles Wallace through the heavens, the stars sing as they turn on their axes, causing the most beautiful harmonies to play. Soon Charles Wallace and his mount are assaulted with an overwhelming stench of death and decay. Gaudior explains that they have arrived at a Projection of a future of the Echthroi. The surface is solidified lava, with heat rising from it. A misshapen creature shuffles toward them. Charles Wallace chants Patrick’s Rune, and snow begins to fall. Gaudior rises up into the heavens and Charles Wallace fights a drowsiness that threatens to overtake him. Soon, he lands in a new When, much later than the time of Harcels, but still far in the past. The star-watching rock has eroded, and the lake has become bigger. From her bedroom, Meg sees a young man, knowing that Charles Wallace is Within him. His name is Madoc, son of Owain, king of Gwynedd.
Madoc sings a song that asks where the Old Man’s Daughter is. It is his wedding day, and he is clothed for the ceremony. An Old Man joins Madoc, promising that his daughter Zyll, Madoc’s bride, will come soon. He says he had had a dream long ago that a stranger would come from a distant land, far across a lake greater than the one before them. Madoc explains that he and his brother came from across the sea because they were two of seven brothers of a king who was dying. There was fighting among the brothers over the powers to be left by their father.
The Old Man expresses concern that Madoc will wish to go back across the waters, but Madoc explains that his ship has been destroyed and his crew is dead. His brother Gwydyr also is dead, and Madoc needs to find his body so that he can sing a song over him that will release his spirit to the gods. The Old Man says that he must let his brother, and his old gods, go and accept the gods of the People of the Wind, the tribe into which he is marrying. The People Across the Lake had found Gwydyr, dead from the bite of a serpent. They buried his body and promptly forgot the location of the grave, as they were frightened of death. The Old Man says that the People of the Wind have no such fear, which comes from the ancient terror of the coming of evil spirits. Madoc had tried to find Gwydyr’s grave but had become lost. He was rescued by Zyll and brought back to her tribe.
Zyll and other members of the tribe soon arrive at the lakeside for the ceremony. They hear drum beats from across the...
(The entire section is 479 words.)
Chapter 5 Summary
Madoc is filled with joy at the sight of the brother he thought was dead. Gwydyr, however, seems cold and distant. When Madoc explains that he believed Gwydyr to have been killed by a serpent, Gwydyr responds that it was his wish that his brother think so. He explains that there is room for only one king. Madoc pleads with him that they leave Gwynedd in search of peace. Gwydyr says that he has come to claim Zyll for his own. Zyll tells him that it is too late, that she and Madoc have been made one. Gwydyr’s response is that his laws are stronger than the laws of the People of the Wind, and the warriors in the boats reveal their spears hidden in their paddles. Reschal (the Old Man) reveals that he had heard the drums the previous evening and had prepared the people, who are shown to have weapons of their own. Madoc begs his brother not to start a war, but instead for the two of them to fight one-on-one. Gwydyr chooses fire as the weapon. Madoc chants Patrick’s Rune. Gwydyr knocks over Reschal. When Madoc helps the Old Man up, he sees a vision in a puddle of water: a baby is born and told by his mother that the world is his, to keep or destroy. The baby grows into a man and chooses to destroy. Another vision appears in which the baby, called El Zarco (“Little Blue Eyes”) chooses to save the earth in peace. Madoc and Gwydyr fight, wrestling each other into the lake. Madoc holds his brother under the lake almost to the point of drowning. He lets Gwydyr get up and throws him into his boat, ordering the People from Across the Lake to leave.
Charles Wallace wonders if he has destroyed a Might-Have-Been by unconsciously giving Madoc Patrick’s Rune, centuries before St. Patrick and Ireland. He tries to remember the book about Madoc and his brother coming from Wales to America, but he feels something is blocking him. Gaudior explains the Gwydyr left the People Across the Lake in shame and went to South America, in the region where Vespugia now lies.
Meg feels that Charles Wallace wants her to find something out for him. Knowing that her brothers are not asleep because of the storm, she goes to their bedroom and asks what they know about Vespugia. Sandy explains that it was settled by Spaniards, a few English, and a group from Wales in 1865, which was also the year that Matthew Maddox wrote his book, The Horn of Joy, which had a strong anti-war theme. Meg goes back to her room to kythe this information to Charles...
(The entire section is 453 words.)
Chapter 6 Summary
Charles Wallace asks Gaudior to take him to Vespugia in 1865. Gaudior explains that it is difficult to travel in both space and time together, so he will take him to 1865 first. As they travel through space, Charles Wallace is attacked by an Echthros. Gaudior saves him and carries him in his teeth. When they land in 1865, Charles Wallace sees that the lake is gone and the star-watching rock is reduced to the size which he has known. He also notices log cabins in the valley and identifies them as being earlier than 1865. Gaudior suggests that they examine this time where they have been sent, rather than seek to go where they had intended.
Charles Wallace soon finds himself with Brandon Llawcae, a young boy from the nearby colonial village. He is with Zylle, his Native American sister-in-law, who is gathering herbs to ease her labor when she gives birth the next day. Zylle has blue eyes, as does her brother Maddok; they are both descendants of Madoc, son of Owain, who is known as a great leader in the People of the Wind. Brandon has the gift of second sight, though his family does not like him to admit this. The village is under the control of Pastor Mortmain, whose narrow-mindedness and self-righteousness have placed the people under his thumb.
When Zylle gives birth, the midwife is troubled that she did not cry out. This is a sign of witchcraft, and thus it is reported among the people of the village. It is also reported that a cat went screeching through the village, presumably being the pain that Zylle bewitched onto it.
Pastor Mortmain comes to take Zylle into custody for witchcraft. Her blue-eyed condition, in conjunction with her Indian heritage, has long made her a suspect, even though she married a white Christian. She is condemned to be hanged. Brandon tells Zillo, Zylle’s father, of what is happening.
The next day, Zylle is taken to the scaffold to be hanged. Ritchie, Zylle’s husband, cries out against this, stating that such evil is from Pastor Mortmain, not from Zylle or the Indians. At the moment when Zylle is to be hanged, Brandon cries out Patrick’s Rune. The Indians appear at the edge of the village. The sky becomes filled with thunderclouds and lightning strikes the church. One of the men, Duthbert, is also struck when he tries to fire on the Indians. Ritchie points out that this is not witchcraft but the wrath of God against Pastor Mortmain’s evil. Zylle is released, and...
(The entire section is 468 words.)
Chapter 7 Summary
Charles Wallace asks Gaudior if there were such horrors as the Salem Witch Trials on other planets. Gaudior explains that evil happens wherever the Echthroi are. They discuss what they have learned from being Within Brandon. Charles Wallace sees that there is a triangular connection with Wales, Vespugia, and his own place and time. He suddenly realizes that Madoc spelled in Welsh is Madog, similar to Mad Dog, as in El Rabioso Branzillo. He tells Gaudior that they must get to Vespugia to see what the connection is, no matter how difficult it is for Gaudior to travel to a different location in space. Gaudior points out that, evidenced by their trouble the last time, problems arise when they try to be too specific as to time. Though they did not arrive in 1865, they found valuable clues about Madoc’s descendants. Gaudior speculates that they are blundering their way closer and closer to the Might-Have-Been that the Echthroi are trying to prevent. The closer they get to it, the more vicious the Echthroi attacks will be. Charles Wallace has already changed small things about the Might-Have-Been, judging from the ferocity of the attacks so far. Charles Wallace wonders if Zylle would have been hanged with Patrick’s Rune, but Gaudior says that this something that he does not need to know. Charles Wallace wants to find the connection between Mrs. O’Keefe and Mad Dog Branzillo.
Charles Wallace urges Gaudior to understand that they have to leave the star-watching rock and aim for 1865 in Vespugia when the Welsh arrived there. Gaudior warns that the Echthroi will probably attack again, so it would be a good idea if Charles Wallace tied himself on. They are back at Charles Wallace’s own time, so he thinks of the hammock by the garden. With difficulty, Charles Wallace unties the hammock and places it around Gaudior, tying it to himself. Gaudior takes off, and the Echthroi attack begins almost immediately. It is only the rope that holds Charles Wallace on to Gaudior. They are thrown downward and land with a violent impact. Charles Wallace realizes that they have landed in water, but he does not know where. He is not even sure if they are on earth or on a distant planet. Gaudior’s wings are waterlogged, preventing him from flying. In her room, Meg chants Patrick’s Rune, and Gaudior is lifted onto the wind and lands on dry ground.
(The entire section is 407 words.)
Chapter 8 Summary
Gaudior and Charles Wallace find themselves on a beach, injured from their fall and the tightness of the rope. Charles Wallace is unable to untie the knots but finds a plant with strong, serrated edges that allows him to cut through them and release him. Gaudior sees that it will take weeks to heal, so he decides to take Charles Wallace back to his home where the Echthroi cannot reach him. On arrival, Charles Wallace sees eggs and realizes that the unicorns hatch from these eggs. He watches as one hatches. At first, the young unicorn prances around Gaudior but runs away when he catches sight of Charles Wallace. Now that they have healed, Gaudior suggests that they let the wind take them where they need to go instead of planning on a certain time.
They arrive at the star-watching rock, and Charles Wallace sees a young girl and boy wearing T-shirts and jeans, so he knows it is close to his own time. The boy’s name is Chuck and the girl is called Beezie, though her real name is Branwen Zillah Maddox. Charles Wallace realizes that the girl is Mrs. O’Keefe and the boy is her brother, which explains why she called him Chuck. The children are with their grandmother, blowing the fuzz off of dandelions. The older woman explains that this is the place where their ancestors lived, one of whom was Zyll, the Indian princess. She tells them of another princess ancestor, Branwen of Britain. She had married an Irish king, who took her back to Ireland and treated her as a servant, sending her to tend the pigs. She called on her brother in Britain to come help her, using Patrick’s Rune. The men from Britain come and rescue her from the evil Irish king.
Chuck's sense of smell allows him to really see the hidden things about people. His father, who was a storekeeper, had wanted to be a writer, but had to return to tend to the store upon his own father’s death. He explains that Matthew Maddox, his ancestor, had written a bestseller about two brothers from Wales who came to America. There was also a time-traveling unicorn in the story, which has led many literary historians to name it one of the first true science fiction books.
One day, out by the star-watching rocks, Beezie tells Chuck about Paddy O’Keefe, a boy at school who is attracted to her. Beezie finds him repulsive, however. Just then, Chuck feels a mighty jolt and tells his sister they must return home. Their father has had a burst appendix and has been taken to...
(The entire section is 451 words.)
Chapter 9 Summary
Meg wakes up to the shrill sound of the telephone ringing. Fearing that it is the President with bad news, she is relieved to hear that it is only Mrs. O’Keefe, who demands that someone come to get her as she has found something important to show Mr. Murry. Meg cannot remember what she was kything, but she knows that it is something important about Mrs. O’Keefe. When her mother-in-law arrives, Meg says her childhood name, Beezie. Mrs. O’Keefe is surprised, saying that name would be better forgotten.
Mrs. O’Keefe, intrigued by the name Branzillo, had gone on a search and found a letter from Bran Maddox in Vespugia to Matthew Maddox, the writer. Bran says that when he came to Vespugia, he was met with the legend of a Welsh prince who came to America before any other white man; he then went down to South America. He is called Gedder, though it is known that this is not his real name. Bran hopes that Dr. Llawcae will allow his daughter Zillah to go to Vespugia so that she and Bran can be married. Mr. Murry does not see the connection, so she points out the “coincidence”: she had a letter from a Maddox in Vespugia when Mad Dog Branzillo was threatening global annihilation. Mrs. O’Keefe wants to speak to “Chuck” (Charles Wallace), but Mr. Murry explains that he is out taking a walk. Mrs. O’Keefe says that she will stay until he gets back. Meg wonders how the girl Beezie turned into Mrs. O’Keefe.
Beezie questions why her father had to die. It is discovered that Mr. Maddox had been more heavily in debt than anyone knew, which explains why he sold the valuable Matthew Maddox book. In the attic, Beezie and Chuck find a box of old letters and a journal which is by Zillah, Bran Maddox’s love. Bran had been wounded in the Civil War, and Zillah doubts that they will ever be married. Duthbert Mortmain has begun to court Beezie and Chuck’s mother. Out of financial desperation, Mrs. Maddox marries him and lets him run the family store. Soon, Mortmain’s temper becomes apparent. Mrs. Maddox appears one morning with a black eye. Mortmain begins to pinch Beezie in a provocative way, first on the arm and then on the bottom. When Beezie’s grandmother warns him to leave the girl alone, Mortmain moves to strike her, but Chuck thrusts himself between them, taking the full force of the blow. He is knocked into the china cabinet, and in pain, cries out that Gedder pushed him, begging Zillah not to let him marry Gwen.
(The entire section is 448 words.)
Chapter 10 Summary
Charles Wallace, from his place Within Chuck, sees nothing but experiences a torrent of smells. He feels the pain from Chuck’s head and then sees a fight between Gwydyr and Madoc at the edge of a lake. He sees a unicorn lower its blazing horn to touch Chuck’s head and pour light into it.
Charles Wallace hears a voice, similar to Gaudior’s but not exactly, calling to him. He still cannot see anything, not even darkness. Meg, in her room, has tears in her eyes, but she does not know why. She sees Gaudior, also weeping, proclaiming that this was a victory for the Echthroi. Meg thinks of Mrs. O’Keefe downstairs and believes that the change from Beezie to what Mrs. O’Keefe has become is an evil victory indeed.
Charles Wallace listens to the voice calling him. The voice explains that Charles Wallace does not have to stay Within Chuck since he now has brain damage, which will limit Charles Wallace’s ability to influence the Might-Have-Been. Charles Wallace asks what will happen to him if he leaves Chuck. The voice explains that he will be sent Within someone else who will better able to help him accomplish his mission. This sounds suspicious to Charles Wallace, and he asks whose voice it is. It explains that it is the unicorn that hatched from the egg when he and Gaudior returned to the unicorn’s home. Charles Wallace is still hesitant and the voice urges him to leave Chuck as time is of the essence. The voice explains that Charles Wallace was chosen because of his high I.Q. and he is the only one who can control the Might-Have-Been. Charles Wallace vomits, but he does not know if he himself is doing this or it is Chuck who is throwing up. He begins to realize that the voice is an Echthroi and he chooses to stay within Chuck. Meg applauds his correct choice.
Chuck eventually regains consciousness to discover that his grandmother is dead. Because of his brain injury, he does not return to school but helps out in the store. He also finds more of the letters from his Maddox ancestors. He feels that Matthew must send Zillah to Vespugia in order to prevent future evil. He learns that his mother is pregnant with Duthbert’s baby. Chuck is upset by this, saying that Gedder and Madoc cannot have descendants in common. Duthbert tells his wife that Chuck is unreliable to be around the forthcoming baby and should be sent to an institution. When something starts to go wrong with Chuck’s eyes, he tells Beezie that...
(The entire section is 480 words.)
Chapter 11 Summary
Charles Wallace comes back into the light. Gaudior explains that Duthbert Mortmain had Chuck institutionalized. They take off once again, landing in a city square surrounded by tall, windowless buildings. Two men with guns come toward them, and Gaudior takes off before they can shoot. He tells Charles Wallace that that was a Projection. Meg in her bedroom continues to kythe through Charles Wallace and sees a young man and a woman on the star-watching rock. From their clothes, she can tell that it is around 1865.
Charles Wallace experiences deep pain this time as he goes Within Matthew Maddox, who has been crippled from a horse-riding accident. He looks at Zillah and thanks her for coming to talk with him. He explains that he had the family's hired hand, Jack O’Keefe, bring him to the star-watching rock. He tells her that he has sensed that something has happened to Bran, who is fighting in the Civil War. After Matthew’s accident, it was Bran who brought him back to an active life. Bran and Zillah had fallen in love, and Matthew had to struggle to let her go. He is now making his own life through writing.
A week later, Mr. Maddox receives official notice that Bran had been shot in the leg and was being sent home. Mr. Maddox says that Bran will help him in the store, which will be renamed Maddox and Son. While Matthew has been left out of these plans, he is at peace with it, as he is not drawn to the life of a storekeeper. When Bran returns, he has changed. Matthew says that Bran’s soul is sick. Matthew also tells Zillah that his sister, Gwen, and the hired man, Jack, might be drawn together, which will not be acceptable to Mr. Maddox.
At dinner one night, Mr. Maddox tells Bran that Matthew and Zillah want him to take Welsh lessons with them. Bran declines, saying that he is not ready. Later, Bran tells Matthew that he is going to Vespugia to join the Welsh colony there. He tells his parents and his father accepts the idea. Zillah wants to go with Bran as his wife, but her father, Dr. Llawcae, refuses. It is Gwen, not Zillah, who eventually goes with Bran. Two brothers, Rich and Gedder, fall for Gwen, and she plays one off the other. One day on a cliff, the two brothers fight over Gwen, and Gedder falls over the edge and dies. Gwen, overcome with guilt and grief, wants to go back to America. Matthew gives Zillah money and a ticket to South America, and she sets sail to join Bran. Her father is furious and...
(The entire section is 536 words.)
Chapter 12 Summary
Meg, Sandy, Dennys, and Mrs. O’Keefe run across the lawn toward the star-watching rock. Meg has to pull her mother-in-law over the wall and down the path. They find Charles Wallace there, his eyes closed and his skin as white as death. Meg cries to Mrs. O’Keefe, calling her by her childhood name of Beezie, and tells her to recite Patrick’s Rune. Mrs. O’Keefe breathlessly begins, joining herself to her grandmother and Chuck. Dennys bends over Charles Wallace and feels that he has no pulse. Meg joins with Mrs. O’Keefe in chanting the rune.
Charles Wallace sees the light returning slowly and the pain disappearing. He is on the star-watching rock with Gaudior bending over him. The unicorn explains that Charles Wallace barely escaped from Matthew before he died. Charles Wallace stands up, noting how strange it feels to be able to use his legs again after being so long in the crippled Matthew. Charles Wallace climbs on Gaudior’s back and they travel back through the galaxies, each person whom Charles Wallace had gone with seemingly traveling with them.
As Gaudior and Charles Wallace return to the present, Meg, the twins, and Mrs. O’Keefe see a flash of light. Meg hears Charles Wallace saying good-bye to someone called “Gaudior,” but she is unable to remember who that is. Sandy asks if anyone else saw the lightning, but Dennys says that it is too cold for lightning. He is amazed to see Charles Wallace standing up, after having felt his dead wrist without a pulse. They return to the house to warm up.
Meg remembers some things, but finds it ridiculous that she seemed to be remembering a unicorn. She asks her mother to show Charles Wallace the letter that Mrs. O’Keefe had brought. It is from Bran to Gwen and Rich, who are married with a daughter named Zillah. Rich has taken over the store after Mr. Maddox’s death. Zillah and Bran are married with a boy named Matthew, who is called by the local natives “Branzillo.” The Murrys think it is odd that Mrs. O’Keefe should be related to Mad Dog Branzillo. Charles Wallace asks Mrs. O’Keefe what happened to Chuck. She says that he died in the institution. The baby that her mother bore to Duthbert grew up and landed in the penitentiary. The phone rings, and it is the President. Mr. Murry says that El Zarco (the Blue-eyed One) is setting up a Congress to develop peace plans. Meg is confused, asking about Branzillo’s threat of war. Mr. Murry says that...
(The entire section is 500 words.)