In A Wrinkle in Time, what are the external and internal conflicts?

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sciftw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

An internal conflict that readers should recognize early on is Meg's self-confidence struggles. She is exceptionally bright; however, she doesn't fit in. She is an outcast and doesn't fit in with her peers. It wouldn't be an internal struggle if Meg was good with that; however, Meg is very much bothered by this. When readers are introduced to Meg, we get to see her telling her cat that she thinks she is an unintelligent, ugly "monster." These self-confidence conflicts eventually boil over and become external conflicts. Meg fights with others and challenges authority. Another conflict for Meg is her struggle with whether or not to trust Calvin O'Keefe. The main external conflict is the fight against IT and the forces of evil.

IT was the most horrible, the most repellent thing she had ever seen, far more nauseating then anything she had ever imagined with her conscious mind, or that had ever tormented her in her most terrible nightmares.

It is a dramatic fight, but Meg is ultimately victorious because she discovers that she has a weapon that IT does not have. Meg has love.

Love. That was what she had that IT did not have.

Michael Foster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The external conflict in its largest sense is evil. The black cloud that Meg, Calvin, and Charles Wallace see is evil itself, according to Mrs. Whatsit. This same cloud surrounds Earth, making it a “shadowed” planet. On Camazotz, the people have given in entirely to IT, which is the personification of the evil that is the cloud. This is what Meg and the others must fight to rescue Mr. Murry from imprisonment.

The internal conflict is facing the evil with the strength of love. Mrs. Whatsit tells Meg, before she goes back to Camazotz, that she gives her her faults, one of which is impatience. Meg must use that impatience to give her the strength to rescue Charles Wallace, who through his own pride has given in to IT, thinking that he could control the experience. Meg faces her internal conflict of doubt and succeeds in her quest.