A Wrinkle In Time

When Kailana said she would host a read along for the Time Quartet, I couldn’t refuse. Never mind that I’ve read them over and over and over since 1973; every single time I read Madeleine I gain a new perspective.

I used to think that A Wrinkle in Time was “only” about love. It is a huge lesson in love. By realizing her love for her brother, Charles Wallace, Meg realizes she has something which can wrest him away from the power of IT. In fact, it is the only thing she can use that has any power. It was an important lesson for me at 11 years of age, sitting in my sixth grade English class, and one I’ve needed remediation in several times since: hate cannot win in the face of love.

But, there’s so much more. This time around I saw Madeleine was writing about more than hate; in particular, I saw her address conformity. There is a certain evil in the expectation, or even desire, that we should all be the same. When we have given up our identity, our own special uniqueness, we might as well have given up our souls.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident!” she shouted, “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

As she cried out the words she felt a mind moving in on her own, felt IT seizing, squeezing her brain. Then she realized that Charles Wallace was speaking, or being spoken through by IT.

“But that’s exactly what we have on Camazotz. Complete equality. Everybody exactly alike.”

For a moment her brain reeled with confusion. Then came a moment of blazing truth. “No!” she cried triumphantly. “Like and equal are not the same thing at all!”

“Good girl, Meg!” her father shouted at her.

But Charles Wallce continued as though there had been no interruption. “In Camazotz all are equal. In Camazotz everybody is the same as everybody else,” but he gave her no argument, provided no answer, and she held on to her moment of revelation.

Like and equal are two entirely different things. (p.160)

Hate and love are two entirely different things; like and equal are two entirely diffferent things; control and freedom are two entirely different things. Thank you, Madeleine, for reminding me that we are all fearfully and wonderfully made.

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23 thoughts on “A Wrinkle In Time”

  1. Bellezza ~ I love Madeleine L'Engle and have read and re-read The Irrational Season. I read A Wrinkle in Time only last year, on the recommendation of Arti at Ripple Effects. I was aware of the focus on the relative powers of love and hatred at the time. I don't remember marking at all the exploration of like/equal, or control/freedom. This is the perfect time for me to re-read the book through these new lenses. In a lovely bit of synchronicity, I've just posted the story of what happens when a perfectly unremarkable person decides to take seriously the possibility that "like" and "equal" aren't necessarily synonymous 😉

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  2. This probably isn't the popular opinion, but I re-read this book recently for the Shelf Discovery Challenge, and I just didn't get it. Well, that's not true, I got it. I just didn't like it. It took me forever to read it, even though the book is short. Go figure! You make it sound so good!

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  3. Yes, that moment of revelation struck me when I read it too. I didn't remember it for my review sadly, but I remember things, YES, that is such an important thing to remember. People can be different but still be equal. In fact, that's what we all are and we need to find the balance to celebrate both the diversity and the equality.

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  4. I vaguely remember reading A Wrinkle in Time when I was a youngster, but I don't think I "got" it at that point. It strikes me now as one of those books steeped in ideological lessons, not all of which are simple. As a result, I think I'd appreciate it much more as an adult than I did in my childhood.

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  5. Isn't it funny how children's books, the really good ones anyway, are better for adults? I find I gain so much more from L'Engle, C.S. Lewis, E.B. White and A.A. Milne as an adult, but I'm still glad I was exposd to those writers as a child. I wonder who's writing the substantial stuff for kids today…

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  6. I remember your post in which you said you didn't really like this book. There have been times when I've read a book everyone's raved about (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) and I've been, "What? I don't like this book very much at all!" That's why we make such a wonderful community of readers. There may be a time when you'll pick it up again and find it wonderful. Or, not. 😉

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  7. Susan, there's time to join in the Readalong for L'Engle. Check out my Challenges 2010 in the sidebar, or the link I left to Kailana's blog. I'd love to have you join us! You don't need to start with Wrinkle, you can just pick up A Swiftly Tilting Planet for February.

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  8. That's a very good question. Who is writing the substantial stuff these days? I've got an almost 6 year old who is getting closer to these kinds of books (I'm reading him "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" at the moment) and I need to know what to look for.

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  9. I love this book so much. I only read it a couple of years ago- some how I managed to avoid it for my entire childhood. My loss! It's such a wonderful read and I know the kid I was would have loved it as much as the adult I am now. great review.

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  10. Marie, I wouldn't have known about it in my childhood had my Language Arts teacher not required us to read it. (Thank God for teachers!) It was my first foray into fantasy, if you don't count Narnia, and it will always hold such a special place in my heart. From here, I read all of Madeleine L'Engle' works, and her inight into Christianity is invaluable to me. I'm so glad that you love it as I do.

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  11. I'm keeping my eyes out, Kerry, for the extraordinary authors for children today. When I find one, I'll be sure to post about it! So many of them seem focused on plot, which is certainly a worthy endeavor, rather than 'lessons' which are a piece I'm always looking for even in my adult reading.

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  12. Oh she was such a wonderful woman wish such wonderful insights!! I love this book so much!! And guess what?? I finished my Japanese book in time for the end of the challenge 😀 I just had to tell you that!! My review is scheduled to go up on Jan 27th. I finally read Confessions of a Mask by Mishima and it was incredible!

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  13. Oooh, Chris, this is your second (or third?) Mishima that I know about, and I can't wait to read your review! I'm so glad that you finished in time, although of course for you, I'd have given an extension. I've gotta say I'm a little sad that the end of the JLC3 is here because it's been so great this time around. That, and I recieved Out in the mail today; I'd so wanted to read that before January 30. Well, I guess it'll have to be for the JCL4. Can't wait to see your thoughts on Mishima!

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  14. That is such a good point about conformity! I decided to skip the read-along this month because it hasn't been very long since I read this, but now I wish I hadn't. I think I'll learn something new from this book every time as well.

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  15. Nymeth, I know that you and I (and Chris) have especially loved this book. If you have time, join in for the rest of the Time Quartet. I'm not sure if you've read the other three, well, actually four if you count An Acceptable Time, but I'd love to hear your thoughts on the whole series. Madeleine is so wonderful.

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  16. I read A Wrinkle in Time first in fourth grade and fell in love with L'Engle. I've reread it several more times since, along with the others in the series and still find it so touching and refreshing. Differences make life so interesting and yes, many times difficult. There are so many wonderful themes in that book. I need to teach it in my comp class. That would be a nice addition. Thanks for reminding me.

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