“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” –Fred Rogers
This quote is not in the book, but from real life. Isn’t it encouraging, though, when faced with troubles in the world, to see that there is good countering it? As the children are sent to fight evil in order to rescue Mr. Murry, they are also encouraged by the knowledge that others have fought and are fighting this same evil.
Last week we had a lot of questions. In this section, we get some answers:
Tesseract: In The Avengers the tesseract is a device which allows one to travel instantly through space. In real life, as far as I understand, it’s a 4-dimensional geometrical shape. In A Wrinkle in Time tesseract is traveling in the 5th dimension. I appreciated the visual aid in chapter 5 showing how the shortest distance between 2 points is not a straight line but a wrinkle. I can understand that, even though I can’t visualize the 5th dimension.
We also find out that, not only did they tesser/wrinkle through space, but also through time, so that the children will arrive home 5 minutes before they left, thus the title of the book. Apparently, “it’s very easy to do if you just know how.”
The Black Thing: Or the Dark Thing, or simply the Thing. It is pure evil, the powers of darkness. Not only are stars shadowed by it, but our planet as well. Some planets have given in to it entirely, and it is on one of these that they will find Mr. Murry. On that subject, Mrs. Whatsit says, “For his children he may be able to do what he cannot do for himself.” What can a father do for his children that he cannot do for himself?
The Mrs. W’s: Mrs. Whatsit used to be a star, who gave her star life in the fight against the Thing. We aren’t told where Mrs. Who or Mrs. Which came from, only that they are much older than Mrs. Whatsit, which could imply that they were previously stars as well.
The Thing is not new, and throughout human history, it has been fought. Mrs. Who quotes John 1:5: Jesus fights this evil, as light shining in darkness. Then they name others who joined the fight on our planet: artists, scientists, composers, mathematicians, even Buddha.
This has caused some controversy. A Wrinkle in Time is one of the most frequently banned books in the United States for having such weighty subject matter and for this mixing of Christianity with science and philosophy. When it was first written, Christian parents did not want their children exposed to the secular references. If you watched the 2018 film version of A Wrinkle in Time, you saw that the Christian references have been removed for modern audiences. Why is this such a problem? Can the quest for what is true and good be considered a fight against evil if it neither begins nor ends with faith in Christ? Is all truth God’s truth?
Finally, almost halfway through the book, they arrive on Camazotz, which is where they are told they will find Mr. Murry. The Mrs. W’s cannot go with them, but they give them all gifts. We will get into these more as we talk about strengths and weaknesses in the conclusion, but here is a summary of the gifts:
- Calvin: strengthened ability to communicate (from Mrs. Whatsit), a quote from The Tempest (Mrs. Who)
- Charles: resiliency of childhood (Mrs. Whatsit), a reminder that he doesn’t know everything (Mrs. Who), a warning against going off alone, pride, and arrogance (Mrs. Which)
- Meg: her faults (Mrs. Whatsit), glasses to use “as a last resort” (Mrs. Who)
- All: instruction to not let themselves be separated (Mrs. Which)
Camazotz is eerie. The capital city is “perfect,” which is why IT is there. IT talks to them, via a man with red eyes, then through Charles Wallace, explaining what makes Camazotz ideal. In his own words:
“For you, as well as for the rest of all the happy, useful people on this planet, I, in my own strength, am willing to assume all the pain, all the responsibility, all the burdens of thought and decision…I am peace and utter rest. I am freedom from all responsibility. To come in to me is the last difficult decision you need ever make…We let no one suffer. It is so much kinder simply to annihilate anyone who is ill. Nobody has weeks and weeks of runny noses and sore throats. Rather than endure such discomfort they are simply put to sleep…On Camazotz we are all happy because we are all alike. Differences create problems…Nobody suffers here…Nobody is ever unhappy.”
What is the deal on Camazotz? What are your thoughts on IT’s philosophy of sameness and annihilation of suffering and responsibility?
P.S. Tune in next week for the thrilling conclusion, as we discuss Chapters 9-12.