A Wrinkle In Time Summary

Madeleine L'Engle

A Wrinkle In Time

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A Wrinkle In Time Summary

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A Wrinkle in Time (1963), a science fantasy novel by American author Madeleine L’Engle, focuses on Meg Murry, a kind but awkward girl who is transported on an adventure through time and space along with her younger brother, Charles, and her friend Calvin. They go on a quest to rescue the Murrys’ brilliant scientist father from the evil forces holding him prisoner on another planet, and encounter cosmic forces that reveal the secrets of the universe to them. The first in a four-book series known as the Time Quartet, A Wrinkle in Time was influenced in its imagery and themes by the author’s devout Christianity. There is a pronounced theme of good versus evil and discussion of theology. The story also explores themes of conformity and rebelling against the status quo, as well as commenting on the nature of life, death, and the human existence. The winner of the 1963 Newbery Medal, A Wrinkle in Time is considered a modern classic and is still widely taught in schools today. It has received multiple film, television, and stage adaptations, with a major Disney adaptation by Ava DuVernay scheduled for release in 2018.

As A Wrinkle in Time begins, thirteen-year-old Meg Murry is a smart but emotionally immature and awkward student who has trouble at school. She lives with her scientist mother, her twin brothers, Sandy and Dennys, and her genius five-year-old brother, Charles Wallace. Charles Wallace has displayed some psychic abilities. Their father, also a scientist, has been missing on his travels for a while. One night, Meg descends from the attic to find Charles Wallace at the table. They are joined by their mother, and soon by their eccentric new neighbor, Mrs. Whatsit. While they talk, Mrs. Whatsit suddenly references something called a tesseract, which causes Meg’s mother to nearly faint.

Meg decides to research this word and finds out it is a mysterious concept her father was working on before his mysterious disappearance. The next morning, Meg and Charles meet up with Meg’s classmate Calvin O’Keefe. Calvin, though several years older and popular on campus, is friends with Meg. They decide to explore a creepy, old house near town that Charles knows is the home of Mrs. Whatsit. While exploring, they encounter Mrs. Who, a friend of Mrs. Whatsit, who promises to help the children rescue their father. It is clear that Meg and Calvin are becoming close. That evening, Charles Wallace tells his sister and friends that it is time to rescue their father. A third mysterious woman, Mrs. Which, materializes out of nowhere to take the children on their quest. The three women, known as the “Mrs. Ws,” are revealed to be supernatural beings in control of the tesseract, a fifth-dimensional power that can fold time and space.

Their first stop is the planet Uriel, a utopia filled with Centaur-like beings. The three mysterious women reveal that they are members of this species in disguise as humans, and in this world they all live in a heavenly state of light and love. They tell the children that the universe is under attack from an evil being called The Black Thing.They take the children to visit a medium, named “The Happy Medium,” who shows them that Earth is slowly being consumed by The Black Thing’s cloud of evil. Although good people on Earth are fighting against it, the battle is being lost. They are then transported to the dark planet Camazotz, which has surrendered to The Black Thing. The beings there exist under a hive mind and act mechanically. They encounter a mysterious man at the central headquarters who claims to know where their father is. He has psychic powers, and Charles Wallace allows the man to psychically take him over so he can share a mind with them. Charles, under the man’s control, leads the other children to the prison where Mr. Murry is being held because his mind was too strong to be taken over. The planet is being controlled by an evil, disembodied brain, only known as “It.” When they arrive at the brain’s headquarters, they are hit by a massive psychic feedback that nearly takes over their minds. Mr. Murry is able to use the tesseract to take Meg and Calvin away from the planet, but Charles Wallace, still under It’s control, is left behind.

Meg is furious at her father for leaving her brother behind, as they travel to other planets and face threats from the inhabitants, as well as the encroaching threat of the Black Thing. Eventually, Meg realizes that parents are not perfect and cannot help everything. The Mrs. Ws show up and tell Meg that she is the only one who can rescue Charles Wallace, asher bond with him is the strongest. Meg is sent back to Camazotz, where she is able to focus all the love she feels for Charles Wallace and break It’s hold over the young boy. With her brother free, Meg and Charles Wallace are tesseracted back to Earth by the Mrs. Ws. They are reunited with their mother and brothers, and Mrs. Whatsit tells the family that she and the other Mrs. Ws must go. The adventure is over for now, but many mysteries remain.

Madeleine L’Engle is best known for A Wrinkle in Time and its sequels, A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Many Waters, and the spin-off, An Acceptable Time. Additionally, she wrote more than a dozen unrelated novels, four books of poetry, and multiple non-fiction essays. Both a devout Christian who wrote for the Episcopalian Church, and a strong believer in science, she reflected these themes in her works. Her novels are deeply influential and considered classics in Young Adult literature, although they are often controversial due to their themes.