I remember reading A Wrinkle in Time as a kid and loving every single word. However, I didn’t actually remember the book.
After the recent teaser trailer came out for the movie, I decided I would read A Wrinkle in Time again. It’s always been one of those books I want to read but never stepped up to do it.
So I read the book again as an adult and wildly surprised by how complex this story was.
It was a dark and stormy night; Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger.
“Wild nights are my glory,” the unearthly stranger told them. “I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me be on my way. Speaking of way, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract”.
Meg’s father had been experimenting with this fifth dimension of time travel when he mysteriously disappeared. Now the time has come for Meg, her friend Calvin, and Charles Wallace to rescue him. But can they outwit the forces of evil they will encounter on their heart-stopping journey through space?
In the book, there’s a scene where the kids are met with a man with red eyes. He has this power to make the citizen of Camazotz all the same. People were robots without the gears. They were puppets without the strings. They were unthinking yet they were still citizens.
I’m honestly impressed by this novel. I’ve re-read novels I remember loving when I was a kid and for me, it was all about the nostalgia. I loved the little trip back in time.
But what I didn’t imagine was that this novel would mean so much more than a re-read of a classic. I find myself thinking much deeper into the underlying story and analyzing the text as if it were some required reading in a philosophy class.
According to Ann Quinlan’s introduction to the book, Madeleine L’Engle used Camazotz, the planet that the children travel to find their father, as a metaphor of what’s to come if society were to adapt communism. Everyone was equal, but all controlled by some higher power. Back in the seventies when this novel was first published, the threat of communism in America was very real. We were in the midst of the Cold War sitting on the edges of our seat waiting for someone to cast the first stone into a full on war.
There’s nothing scarier to an artist, a writer, a musician, and a dreamer than the threat that they have to stop what they love because the government tells them to.
Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin face this threat in the form of a blackness. It spreads across every world. People have been fighting the black thing for ages. Leonardo Da’Vinci, Jesus, Shakespeare, Bach, Einstein. What do all these people have in common? They questioned the social norm. They follow their passion and not the accepted. What happens when a couple of kids are put into this position?
When faced against IT and the blackness, you see them sing nursery rhymes and recite the Gettysburg address to fight IT’s mind control. They push themselves to the limit to avoid being controlled by someone else. Perhaps it’s because they’re children and are more free willed than an adult.
I found what Madeleine L’Engle was trying to express here interesting. She’s showing us that the weak-minded can easily fall prey to the idea of this mind control. However, people tend to break free and are subject to re-calibration. It’s to show us that while we may be simple-minded, there is always free will and free will always pulls us away from the social norm.
All of this wrapped into 250 pages written for kids! This book was like a mom who expertly hides veggies in mac and cheese. You never know you’re getting the good stuff because it’s wrapped up in what seems like a fun adventure book about a couple of kids looking for their dad.
I know I did a lot of talking about the deeper discussion, but I will admit that the ending was a little anti-climatic and a little predictable. I suppose when you’re a kid you hope that the love of your brother or sister can save you from anything.