A Wrinkle as Time
Madeleine L'Engle
Contributed by Ariane Heyne
Chapter 10
Summary

When Meg regains consciousness, she feels bitterly cold and is unable to move her body or speak. She hears Calvin and her father discussing her condition but has no way of communicating with them. Meg hears Calvin ask her father about his journey to Camazotz. Mr. Murry explains that he never intended to go to this planet; he was part of a team of scientists trying to tesser to Mars. Mr. Murry says that he was aware that he could not have been on Camazotz for longer than two years, but time seems to flow differently on this planet. He admits to Calvin that he was about to give up all hope and surrender to IT when the children arrived to rescue him.

Meg desperately tries to make a sound to let her father and Calvin know that she can hear them. Finally, she succeeds in making a small croaking noise, slowly regaining the ability to speak. She enquires about Charles and is furious to know that the group left Camazotz without him. She is angry at her father for doing this and failing to deliver them all to safety. Mr. Murry explains to his daughter that he is only a fallible human being, and no miracle-worker. He, however, expresses the belief that "all things work together for good for them that love God." Mr. Murry presses Meg's fingers and she cries out in pain. He tells her that pain is a good sign; it means she is regaining sensation. Suddenly, three strange creatures advance toward them, each with four arms. They have tentacles in instead of hair, and soft indentations in place of eyes. Calvin introduces himself to the creatures and explains Meg's precarious condition. At first Meg is scared, but when one of the creatures touches her with its wavy tentacle, warmth spreads through her body. The creature picks her up and tells Mr. Murry that it is taking Meg with it.

Analysis

The title of this chapter 'absolute zero' is a scientific term for the temperature
(-273 degrees Celsius) at which all molecular motion ceases. Meg experiences such low temperature when she tessers with her father through the Black Thing. When she wakes up, she is feeling bitter cold, so much so that she cannot feel her own body. Meg's faint pulse is barely detectable to Mr. Murry and Calvin. It is in striking contrast to the dominant and unavoidable pulse of IT's rhythmic brain. When Meg wakes up, she feels as if she was in a coma, she struggles to recover her senses. Her struggle to communicate with her father is similar to Calvin's struggle to communicate with the possessed Charles and Meg's own attempt to get through to her father in the glass column. When Meg's father presses her finger she winces in pain, he tells Meg that the pain is actually good, for it means that the sensation has come back again. Meg imbibed the emotional equivalent of this physical lesson on Camazotz. On Camazotz, the inhabitants are never unhappy because they are unable to feel any emotions at all. Pain and sorrow are natural and necessary conditions to feel happy. In this chapter, L'Engle shows that evil is not merely external, as Meg would like to believe. Meg unfairly blames her father for failing to rescue Charles, although she fails to realize that her self-righteous accusation is characterised by the same evil exuded by IT. As L'Engle notes, "she (Meg) did not realize that she was as much in the power of the Black Thing as Charles." Meg will later on realize that she is often threatened by internal evils just like the one possessing Charles externally. Meg is angry at her father because she cannot accept him to be a fallible human being like herself. She expects him to be superhuman and to be able to solve all their problems. Meg, like all children, is going through the difficult experience of realising that her parents do not know everything. Only when she grows out of this naivety will she fully mature and be able to realize her own unique abilities and potential. Ultimately, Meg herself, and not Mr. Murry, will save Charles.

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