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

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Chapter 12
Summary

Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which appear on Ixchel in response to Meg's calls. However, they reveal that they are helpless to save Charles. Mr. Murry requests them to help him in tessering so that he can try to retrieve Charles from Camazotz, but Mrs. Which clearly says he will not be successful. Calvin asks to be sent after Charles, but he, too, is refused. After a long silence, Meg realizes that everyone wants her to go back to Camazotz and rescue her brother. Scared and overwhelmed by the responsibility, Meg cries out that she cannot go back. Gradually, she realizes that she is the one who is most likely to get through to him as she is the closest to him. Mr Murry and Calvin do not want her to go but Mrs. W's convince them that it is for the best. Meg says goodbye to her father, Calvin, and Aunt Beast, and also apologizes to her father for her emotional outbursts. Mrs. Which tells Meg that she will tesser with her through the Black Thing so that Meg arrives at Camazotz safely.

Once again, each of Mrs. W's presents Meg with a gift: Mrs. Whatsit bolsters the force of her innate love. Mrs. Who gives her a blessing from the New Testament. Mrs. Which strengthens in her the one thing that she has but IT does not have. However, Meg must find this thing for herself. Meg arrives safely on Camazotz after tessering with Mrs. Which and heads directly to the domelike building where IT is waiting for her. Inside, Charles is crouching behind the dais containing the disembodied brain. His eyes roll and a tic in his forehead pulses to IT's revolting rhythm. Meg tries to think hard about Mrs. Which's gift. But Charles mockingly says that she has nothing that IT does not also have. Meg thinks that her weapon cannot be her ability to resist, her anger, or her hatred, for IT has all of these things. Charles suggests to Meg that Mrs. Whatsit hates her, and at that moment, Meg realizes the one thing that she has that IT does not have is: love. She cannot possibly love IT but she can love Charles. She calls out to him with all the force of her love. And, he runs into her arms, both the children tesser together through the darkness. When they come out from the darkness, they find they have rejoined Calvin and Mr. Murry in the twins' vegetable garden back on Earth! After a happy family reunion, the three Mrs. W's appear. Mrs. Whatsit apologizes for not saying goodbye as Mrs. W's are now busy with a new mission. She starts to describe the mission but a strong gust of wind surrounds them, and before Mrs. Whatsit can complete her sentence, the three celestial bodies are gone.

Analysis

All the gifts that Meg receives in this chapter allude to Christian theology. Mrs. Whatsit and Mrs. Which strengthen Meg with both their love and her own love. Mrs. Which gives her an excerpt from St. Paul's Epistle to the Corinthians. This Biblical passage offers empowerment to the foolish and the weak and charges human beings to fulfill their calling despite their sense of inadequacy. Mrs. Which's gift to Meg is an enabler of sorts, helping her gain the power of free choice.

Throughout the novel, characters make small but important decisions that affect the entire universe such as Charles Wallace's decision to visit Mrs. Whatsit, the children's decision to make the journey, and Meg's return trip to Camazotz. By giving her characters the freedom of choice, L'Engle rejects the element of determinism. For her, life is like a sonnet -- organized and structured but not pre-determined. "You're given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself. What you say is completely up to you," Mrs. Whatsit tells Calvin. When Meg returns to Camazotz, she writes another line in the sonnet of her life. Meg returns to earth as a changed person, even though no chronological time has elapsed. She is now confident in herself and knows that she does not need to conform to make positive contributions to the world. Meg concludes that the power of selfless love can set her free just as it freed Charles from the clutches of IT. Thus, her cosmic quest to stop the Dark Thing's conquest of the universe is also a deeply personal quest. Having completed it successfully, Meg is now aware of her own abilities and is ready to make her own contribution to the world.

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