A Swiftly Tilting Planet

by Madeleine L'Engle

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1. L'Engle characterizes herself as a Christian writer, yet her book does not talk about the Bible or about the teachings of Christianity. What are her values? In what ways does she let you know that? In what ways do these same values correspond to those espoused by Christianity?

2. To most readers, Mrs. O'Keefe is not a very "interesting" person. She is quiet and easily distressed, yet she holds the key to the mystery. In what important ways is she related to all of the characters with whom Charles Wallace has come in contact as he traveled through time? Why is it finally her responsibility to provide the means by which "Mad Dog" Branzillo can be stopped?

3. How does L'Engle make use of Welsh mythology to underpin her story? Find out more about the Welsh and their mythology and show how she has incorporated this material into A Swiftly Tilting Planet.

4. L'Engle seems to have done a lot of research into the movement of certain Welsh people to Vespugia in Patagonia. Discover what actually happened and describe in what ways she has used historical events as the inspiration for those in her story.

5. The Salem witch trials play an important part in A Swiftly Tilting Planet. Research the actual events that took place. Discuss the point L'Engle wished to make by using this real historical event as the foundation of the key chapters in her book.

6. Perhaps one way of explaining L'Engle's view of history is that it repeats itself until people learn the lesson it has to teach them. What series of events seem to keep repeating themselves as Charles Wallace travels through time? What is the lesson that people have not yet learned?

7. Based on your reading of the book, is Matthew Maddox "mad"? Why or why not? On what grounds is he considered insane?

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