What happens in A Wrinkle in Time?

Meg Murry is a bright teenager struggling through high school when she and her brother Charles Wallace embark on a fantastic adventure to save their father, a renowned scientist imprisoned on the planet of Camazotz.

  • Charles Wallace has special mental abilities, and he and Meg share a connection that allows them to communicate nonverbally. This skill proves to be an asset on their journey.

  • Meg, Charles Wallace, and their new friend Calvin O'Keefe meet three guides: Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which. With the help of these guides, the children travel to the planet Camazotz, where Dr. Murry is held captive by a disembodied brain called IT.

  • Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin fight IT. In spite of Charles Wallace's special abilities, the children fail. Meg later returns to fight IT alone, using the power of love to defeat IT's evil mind control.

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Summary

(Masterpieces of American Literature)

A Wrinkle in Time was L’Engle’s third novel to be published. The novel opens with Meg Murry, a girl just entering high school, the middle child and only daughter, going downstairs in a storm to find her little brother, Charles Wallace, waiting for her. The reference is made to the ability of Charles Wallace to know her thoughts, which readers later discover is the ability to kythe, or communicate thought from mind to mind without speaking. This is the first indication of the special abilities Charles Wallace possesses and develops throughout the trilogy.

During this storm, the children’s first guide appears at the Murrys’ door dressed as an old homeless woman might and calling herself Mrs. Whatsit. She informs the family that the tesseract is real. The tesseract is the physics formula explaining time travel which Mr. Murry was exploring at the time of his disappearance.

When Meg and Charles Wallace later go to visit Mrs. Whatsit, they encounter Calvin, a fellow student with Meg, who tells them he also followed a compulsion that led him to come to Mrs. Whatsit’s house at the same time. They enter the house, where they meet for the first time their other guide, Mrs. Who. She tells the kids to leave and that she and her cohorts will fetch them when the time comes.

Meg spends the next few chapters attempting to come to grips with herself and her unhappy situation at school, in which her teachers think she is not intelligent and she is not doing well. She also struggles with her own security because she compares her plainness to the beauty of her mother and other peers. She encompasses the common insecurities of the adolescent girl. However, she is aware that Charles Wallace is special and that she has a special connection to him.

Then, on a walk in the garden, they encounter the two guides and a new one, who appears only as an ephemeral shape of a person, Mrs. Which. The guides proceed to attempt to explain tessering (or time travel), and they take the children to a pleasing planet from which they come and teach them about the evil forces they refer to as the Black Thing, which is a sort of cloud covering many planets. At this point in the novel the dichotomy sets the evil as a cloud that surrounds a planet and thus infiltrates the minds of its people, dictating their actions. The planet they see, they are informed, is the planet on which their father is located. Thus the quest is developed.

The three guides give each child a gift and send them tessering to the planet. The discovery begins for the three children as they attempt to understand the odd planet, where everyone acts, speaks, and dresses alike. Guided by the impulse of Charles Wallace, they children enter the CENTRAL Central Intelligence Agency.

Charles Wallace believes that he can gain the information from the being by agreeing to go into his thoughts, which results in Charles Wallace becoming controlled because of his pride in his kything abilities. Thus, they have failed their first test, and Charles Wallace’s overconfidence in his own power of intelligence causes him to be lost to the evil. He...

(The entire section is 1,457 words.)