(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

Meg Murry, Charles Wallace Murry, and Calvin O’Keefe are in a battle of good versus evil. The three find themselves aided by mysterious beings, who are helping them in a battle against the forces of evil, represented by the Black Thing and the Echthroi. Meg and Charles Wallace’s twin brothers, Sandy and Dennys, soon have an adventure of their own.

A Wrinkle in Time. A stranger named Mrs. Whatsit, one of the Mrs. W’s—Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Which, and Mrs. Who—arrives one night at the Murrys’ door during a storm and informs Kate Murry, a microbiologist, of the existence of something called a tesseract, a method for moving through time and space. As so happened, scientist Alex Murry—husband and father—had been experimenting with time travel for the government when he had disappeared some time ago.

Meg is fourteen years old and considers herself to be awkward, gangly, and an ugly duckling. She has a bad temper that is made worse when the inhabitants of her small town talk about her father or about her five-year-old brother, Charles Wallace, who exhibits some savant abilities. Charles Wallace had not started to speak until he was four years old, but when he did first talk, he did so in complete sentences. Most of the townspeople do not know this, as he rarely speaks in public.

When Meg and Charles Wallace visit Mrs. Whatsit the next day, they are met by Calvin, a brilliant teenager who goes to school with Meg. He is extremely popular at school, but he is neglected by his own family.

The Mrs. W’s inform the Murry family and Calvin a few days later that it is time for them to rescue Alex Murry. They tesser to the planet where the Happy Medium lives, and she shows them the Black Thing, which has taken over planets and shadows Earth, held back only by brilliant artists, scientists, philosophers, and religious leaders like Leonardo da Vinci, William Shakespeare, and Jesus of Nazareth. Then they are shown Camazotz, a planet overtaken by the Black Thing. Camazotz is where Alex is being held captive.

The Mrs. W’s transport the searchers to Camazotz but cannot go farther, sending Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin into the town. Mrs. Whatsit reminds them of their strengths and weaknesses, and Mrs. Who gives Meg her glasses.

The four searchers go into town, where they see everyone behaving exactly the same. All the children are bouncing balls the same way at the same time. A boy delivering newspapers sends the searchers to Central Intelligence to confront IT, a great pulsating brain that refers to itself as the Happiest Sadist. Everything on Camazotz resonates to the pulsating IT.

Charles Wallace’s pride is his downfall, as he believes he can resist IT when IT approaches in the form of a man with red eyes. Charles Wallace lets the man with red eyes into his mind, giving it the opportunity to take him over. IT uses Charles Wallace to lead Meg and Calvin to Alex, who is imprisoned in a glass column. Meg uses Mrs. Who’s glasses to enter the column and pull her father out. They are then led to IT, which nearly takes over Meg. Alex tessers Calvin, Meg, and himself from Camazotz, but he has to leave his son Charles Wallace behind in the grasp of IT.

The three tesser through the Black Thing, which freezes Meg from head to toe. Creatures on the planet, including one she refers to as Aunt Beast, care for her. The creatures also are fighting the Black Thing, but they cannot help to rescue Charles Wallace from IT. Meg, angry with her father for leaving her brother behind, cannot figure out what to do until the Mrs. W’s arrive.

Meg alone must face IT again, and only with the knowledge supplied by Mrs. Which, giving Meg something that IT does not have. Meg soon realizes that IT can feel hate but not love. Meg’s love for her brother frees him from IT’s...

(The entire section is 1577 words.)


(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

Hammond, Wayne G. “Seraphim, Cherubim, and Virtual Unicorns: Order and Being in Madeleine L’Engle’s Time Quartet.” Mythlore 20, no. 4 (Winter, 1995): 41-45. A brief discussion of the angels and other creatures of The Time Quartet and their use as both tangible and virtual beings in a differently ordered universe.

L’Engle, Madeleine. “An Interview with Madeleine L’Engle.” Interview by James S. Jacobs and Jay Fox. Literature and Belief 7 (1987): 1-16. In this revealing interview, Jacobs and Fox discuss writing and personal beliefs with L’Engle and how she interweaves the two in her creations.

_______. The Rock That Is Higher: Story as Truth. Colorado Springs, Colo.: Shaw Books, 2002. L’Engle explains her own methods of telling stories and discusses how she brings Christian thought into her fantastic tales.

Oziewicz, Marek. One Earth, One People: The Mythopoeic Fantasy of Ursula K. Le Guin, Lloyd Alexander, Madeleine L’Engle, and Orson Scott Card. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2008. Argues that the works of fantasy authors, including L’Engle, have socially transformative powers, giving expression to a worldview based on the supernatural or spiritual.

Rosenberg, Aaron. Madeleine L’Engle. New York: Rosen Press, 2005. Rosenberg gives a good overview of L’Engle’s life and writings, including the work and ideas that went into the novels of The Time Quartet.

Schneebaum, Katherine. “Finding a Happy Medium: The Design for Womanhood in A Wrinkle in Time.” The Lion and the Unicorn: A Critical Journal of Children’s Literature 14, no. 2 (December, 1990): 30-36. Schneebaum discusses the female characters and models in A Wrinkle in Time and how L’Engle strikes a balance between traditional and nontraditional female roles.

Shaw, Luci, ed. The Swiftly Tilting Worlds of Madeleine L’Engle: Essays in Her Honor. Colorado Springs, Colo.: Shaw Books, 2000. The essays in this book cover a variety of issues in L’Engle’s books. Published in honor of her eightieth birthday.