The Virtual Literary World Tour arrives in the US in a place called Dystopia. I wrote yesterday’s blog post in preparation for today’s. I have read just under 25 children’s and young adults’ book for the Virtual Literary World Tour, and I can honestly say that it has been an enriching experience. Next week we will start the official country Tour, and the starting point is in Canada where I reside. If you have been reading this blog for a while, you will know why I am doing the Virtual Literary World Tour, but why should you really care about books by authors from around the world? You should care because you will not only learn about other peoples and cultures, but you will also broaden your world experience and awareness. This will become clear as we journey on the Tour together.
This week, we have stopped in a little place in the US called Dystopia. Dystopian literature is very popular today, and today we are looking at A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, and tomorrow The Giver quartet. In case you haven’t noticed it yet, the majority of the books that I have mentioned on the unofficial leg of the tour, including the books this week, are children’s books, so the rest of the tour is primarily devoted to books written with adults in mind.
Big Lessons from A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle
- You can achieve far more than you think: Meg Murry was reluctant to embark on the heroine’s journey to release her father, not because she didn’t love him, but she didn’t believe that she had the capacity to do so.
- A small group of committed people can make a difference: Meg, her brother Charles Wallace and schoolmate Calvin O’Keefe, with the assistance of Mrs Whatsit, Mrs Who and Mr Which, were able to release Mr Murry, a government scientist being held on the planet Comazotz. Margaret Mead’s quote comes to mind. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
- You don’t know everything: This advice was given to Charles Wallace Murry – the five year old genius – before he travelled to Comazotz with the other two children to release his father. He didn’t heed the advice and IT the large brain took over his mind. This may seem like an extreme example, but the day we start thinking that we know everything, is the day that we are doomed.
- You have superpowers: We have latent superpowers that we are unaware of, but we can call on them when we are in a tight spot. Don’t be afraid to act when you find yourself in a tight corner, you’ll be amazed by what you can accomplish.
Summary of Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle is a science fantasy novel first published in 1962. The story revolves around Margaret Murry (Meg) who is 13 years old and has brilliant parents, but doesn’t apply herself in school so she is in danger of failing. Meg wears glasses and braces and others view her as somewhat of a misfit. Meg gets along very well with her five yearold brother Charles Wallace Murry, a super-genius, who has the ability to see inside people’s minds. She has also has 10 year old twin brothers, Sandy and Dennys, who are very athletic.
Her father, a government physicist, has been missing for over a year. It is a rumored that he left his beautiful wife, who is also a scientist, and their four children for another woman. Meg’s father vanished while working on a project called tesseract, which is going from the fourth dimension to the fifth.
Mrs Whatsit, Mrs Who, and Mrs Which live in an abandoned house nearby. While Meg and Charles are going to meet Mrs Whatsit, they encounter 14 year old Calvin O’Keefe, who attends Meg’s school and is a couple of years older than her. Calvin gets what he calls compulsions to do certain things, and he usually goes with the feeling and that’s why he meets Charles and Meg – he was led to that spot. The trio with the dog, Fortinbra, continues on to Mrs Whatsit. They learn that Mr Murry needs their assistance, but the time is not quite right for them to rescue him.
A short time thereafter, Meg, Charles and Calvin tesser (travel) through time and space to Uriel, the third planet of the star Malak in the spiral nebula Messier 101. They land in a field and are momentarily separated while traveling. They find each other, and Mrs Whatsit, Mrs Who, and Mrs Which appear as well. Mrs Whatis is transformed into a beautiful creature with wings made of rainbows. The three children climb on her back, and they fly off to the dark planet of Camazotz where Mr Murry is being held. Comazotz is dominated by the “Black Thing.”
Before Mrs Whatsit leaves the children, the only assistance she can give them is a talisman. “Calvin, your great gift is your ability to communicate with all kinds of people. So, for you, I will strengthen your gift. Meg, I give you your faults…I think you’ll find them handy on Comazotz. Charles Wallace, to you I can give only resilience of your childhood…”
She advises Calvin to listen well, and to Charles, she tells him that he doesn’t know everything, and to Meg she gives her glasses and instructs her to only use them when absolutely necessary. Meg places the glasses into the breast pocket of her blazer. On Comazotz, they notice that the inhabitants behave like they are machines. There is a sameness about the place – everyone rides their bikes in exactly the same manner, they toss a ball the exact way. They appear to be controlled.
The children enter CENTRAL Central Intelligence, which is the planet’s headquarters. They encounter a man with red eyes who has the power to hypnotize them if they look into his eyes. He tries to trick them, but the children heed Mrs Whatsit’s advice and use their gifts. Charles decides to go into the man’s mind to try to locate their father and he is taken over by the mind, and turns against Mrs Whatsit, Mrs Who, and Mrs Which.
Comazotz is controlled by a brain called IT with powerful telepathic powers. Charles who is now under the influence of IT takes Calvin and Meg to where his father is being held. Meg is able to get to her father using the special glasses she received from Mrs Whatsit. Mr Murry is finally released. Charles takes them to IT and to escape the being’s telepathic powers, Mr Murry tessers Meg, Calvin and himself off Comazotz through The Black Thing, but Charles is left behind. The experience nearly kills Meg, and they land on a neighboring planet, Ixchel. Meg is frozen and paralyzed. The planet is inhabited by large, sightless “beasts” with four arms and more than five fingers to each waving tentacles. The beasts prove to be wise and gentle, and one of them nurses Meg back to health. Meg names her Aunt Beast.
When Meg’s health returns, they summon the trio of Whatsit, Who, and Which. When they arrive, they task Meg with rescuing Charles Wallace from IT. They cannot physically assist in rescuing Charles from IT, but what they can do is to each bestow upon her a gift. Mrs Whatsit gives Meg her love. Mrs Who tells her to listen and cites a biblical passage. Mrs Which travels with Meg and once again they have to pass through the “Black Thing”. Once again Meg enters the CENTRAL Central Intelligence building. The showdown begins, and by this time IT’s hold on Charles Wallace is even stronger.
Charles Wallace and IT try to play with her mind, but Meg remembers the gift of love, so she starts to project feelings of love toward her little brother until she breaks the hold that IT has on him, and they are able to escape. They return home and only a short time has elapsed since they had left. There is much celebrating when the family is reunited.
You may be thinking that A Wrinkle in Time (Madeleine L’Engle’s Time Quintet) by Madeleine L’Engle is a children’s book and cannot see how it applies directly to your life, but if you read the book thoughtfully, you will find relevant pieces of information that you can use. Jason Falls’ post “The Trick is Applying General Knowledge to Specific Needs supports my thinking on this.” Please add your thoughts in the comment box below. Book links are affiliate links.
When we start to travel from country to country on the Virtual Literary World Tour, book summaries will only be a paragraph in length.