A Wrinkle as Time
Madeleine L'Engle
Contributed by Ariane Heyne
Chapter 9

Meg jumps forward to meet her father but she cannot enter the column and her father cannot see or hear her. In anger, she throws herself at Charles, but he punches her in the stomach. Calvin nearly frees the real Charles by reciting the lines from Shakespeare's The Tempest, which Mrs. Who gave him, but Charles ultimately remains spellbound. Meg remembers Mrs. Who's spectacles. She puts them on and throws herself at the column. She successfully gets through to her father and stands by his side. Mr. Murry is overjoyed at his daughter's arrival, though he cannot see her until he puts on Mrs. Who's spectacles. By putting on the spectacles and carrying Meg in his arms, Mr Murry is able to escape from the captivity with her. When they come out, Charles is rude to his father but Meg tells father that this is not the real Charles. Charles tells them that he must take them immediately to IT. Mr. Murry is scared and insists that Meg will not be able to fight with him. However, they have no choice and are forced to follow the youngest Murry child. Charles takes them out of the CENTRAL Central Intelligence Building and into a strange, domelike building with a violet glow. Meg feels a steady pulsing that seems to force the beating of her heart to conform to its rhythm. The building has nothing but the feel of the pulse and a round central dais containing a large living brain. Mr. Murry warns Calvin and Meg that they must not give in to IT's rhythmic control. Meg tries to shout out the Declaration of Independence, the periodic table, and the irrational square roots, still her mind begins to slip into IT's control. Seeing that Meg is about to be lost to IT, Calvin commands everyone to tesser. Mr. Murry grabs her wrist and Meg feels herself torn apart in the whirlwind of tessering.


To fight IT, Meg and Calvin recall the same creative geniuses who Mrs. Whatsit initially told them had dedicated their lives to waging war with the Dark Thing. That is why Calvin quotes Shakespeare and Meg recites Jefferson's Declaration of Independence to resist the rhythmic of IT's pulsing power. Meg chose the Declaration of Independence because this document protests the principles of conformity and uniformity characterised by monarchy or, here, life on Camazotz. On the planet Camazotz, inhabitants do not have individual rights because they are all exactly the same. No one has the freedom of self-determination or the inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness because all their pursuits are guided by a cold, disembodied brain.

When the Declaration of Independence fails to have the desired effect, Meg starts reciting the irrational square roots. She cannot recite the rational roots of perfect squares such as 1, 4, and 16, because these will easily lapse into IT's evil rhythm. Only the irrational roots, with their long, awkward, non-repeating decimal values, stand a chance against IT. The choice of irrational square roots is significant in resisting IT. Meg fights the tyranny of a rational brain devoid of the irrational qualities -- the passions, emotions, and foibles -- that make us human. By representing IT with a disembodied brain, L'Engle comments on the dangers of intellect without emotion. Such pure rationality stifles individuality. Without emotions, people are mechanical, robot-like creatures identical to one another. We can think creatively and develop as unique individuals only when we can feel love and pain. Trying to fight IT with his exceptional intelligence, Charles fails to withstand the evil force, his intellect alone is not sufficient. Charles's downfall is due to his failure to follow the advice of the Mrs. W's. Mrs. Whatsit cautioned him to be beware of pride and arrogance, but Charles thought that he could resist IT single-handedly. Mrs. Who warned him to remember that he does not know everything, but Charles nonetheless engaged with the Man with the Red Eyes when he lauded his neuropsychological complexity. Mrs. Which advised all the children to stay together at all times, but Charles insisted on going off with the Man in the CENTRAL Central Intelligence Building. Charles's defeat demonstrates that intelligence and intellect alone cannot resist the tyranny of uniformity.

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