At a glance:
- Author: Madeleine L'Engle
- First Published: 1962
- Type of Work: Fantasy/moral tale/science fiction
- Genres: Long fiction, Fable, Bildungsroman, Science fiction, Adventure, Fantasy
- Subjects: 1950's, Maturation or coming of age, Freedom, Values, Children, Family or family life, United States or Americans, Power, personal or social, Adolescence, Teenagers, Supernatural, Extrasensory perception or powers, Future, Other worlds, Space flight or travel, Brothers and sisters, Individuality, Emotions, Brothers, Time travel, Good and evil, Conformity, Planets, Space and time, Technology, Battles
- Locales: Space, Northeast (U.S.), Camazotz (fictive), Uriel (fictive)
Although Madeleine L’Engle is a devout Christian she antagonized evangelical Christians with her children’s novel A Wrinkle in Time. Her detractors challenged the inclusion of her book in public schools primarily because its women characters—Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which—use magical powers to take twelve-year-old Meg and her brother Charles on a space trip through the fifth dimension. Objecting parents and pastors have claimed that characters are really witches practicing black magic under the guise of “New Age” religion, based on Hindu and Buddhist cultures. They have objected to children being indoctrinated with Eastern religions and mystical practices and to L’Engle’s use of crystal balls, psychic healing, astral travel, and telepathy. Citizens for Excellence in Education in Waterloo, Iowa, for example, accused L’Engle of fostering occult practices, employing satanic suggestions, sadism, and—worst of all—by associating Jesus Christ with other great personages, implying that Christ was not divine. Most efforts to ban A Wrinkle in Time failed, however. L’Engle received strong support from her readers for her Newbery Award-winning novel and its themes of the power of love, respect for others, and the need for individuality.
Friedan, Betty. The Feminine Mystique. New York: W. W. Norton, 1963. Explains that the frustration felt by many women of the 1950’s derived from their lack of personal fulfillment. With her combination of science and motherhood, Mrs. Murry represents the “new” woman Friedan is urging others to become.
Harvey, Brett. The Fifties: A Women’s Oral History. New York: HarperCollins, 1993. Discusses the family of the 1950’s, supporting theories and general observations with concrete examples from case studies. It was a decade of great conformity, which may explain why people outside the Murry family often regarded the “strange” children with hostility.
Huck, Charlotte S., Susan Helper, and Janet Hickman. Children’s Literature in the Elementary School. 5th ed. Fort Worth, Tex.: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich College Publishers, 1989. Contains discussions of A Wrinkle in Time, including the attempts to ban the work. The authors argue that L’Engle is a Christian writer.
Lukens, Rebecca J. A Critical Handbook of Children’s Literature. 4th ed. Glenview, Ill.: Scott, Foresman, 1992. Details the characteristics of children’s fiction and the components of plot, style, and characterization. Lukens distinguishes between strict science fiction and fantasy, explaining that the former concentrates on technology while the latter emphasizes the human element in a scientific world.
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- What is the black thing in "A Wrinkle in Time"?
- A Wrinkle in Time Ending What do you think of the ending of the book? Are you surprised?
- Why must Meg go alone to Camazotz? How is her relationship with Charles Wallace important to her ability to free him?
- What is the theme of "A Wrinkle in Time"?
- What happens to Meg in the beginning of Chapter 4?