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Course Hero. "A Wrinkle in Time Study Guide." January 8, 2018. Accessed January 17, 2019.


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A Wrinkle in Time | Quotes


Just because we don't understand doesn't mean that the explanation doesn't exist.

Mrs. Murry, Chapter 3

Mrs. Murry possesses the logical, rational view of a scientist. She believes everything has an explanation, but admits the explanation may be beyond her understanding. This statement reveals a laudable combination of curiosity and humility. Meg learns to apply this exploratory spirit to her own investigations of the universe with Mrs Whatsit, Mrs Who, and Mrs Which.


Explanations are not easy ... about things for which your civilization still has no words.

Mrs Whatsit, Chapter 5

Mrs Whatsit struggles to explain tessering to Meg. She points out the failure of human communication to identify and explain certain concepts. Readers are challenged to think outside the parameters of language when they picture the tesseract. They also imagine a world beyond three dimensions. By bringing up concepts Meg and the reader cannot fully understand, the book encourages exploration. It allows readers to think about an experience different from their own.


A straight line is not the shortest distance between two points.

Charles Wallace, Chapter 5

As a mathematician, Meg has learned to find results through shortcuts or unexpected ways. She understands how rules can change as needed to produce a more efficient result.

Greek mathematician Euclid pioneered a form of geometry called "plane geometry," using figures in two dimensions. On paper a straight line is the shortest way to get from Point A to Point B. But in the fifth dimension, distance isn't so simple. To understand traveling in space-time, Meg has to think outside established concepts like Euclid's straight line. On her journey through space, she learns that the rules of math can be different from what she was taught. She sees the world in a new way.


There's very little difference in the size of the tiniest microbe and the greatest galaxy.

Mrs Whatsit, Chapter 5

The children have just learned the universe is battling the Black Thing. They know the stakes are high, and they have seen the Black Thing's power. As humans confronted with the sheer scale of the universe, they are tempted to feel helpless, but Mrs Whatsit reminds them that size doesn't determine influence or strength. Tiny microbes, for instance, can be incredibly powerful. Besides, some extraordinary fighters have come from the comparatively small planet Earth.

When the children gain this perspective, they are filled with awe and confidence, not fear.


All your great artists. They've been lights for us to see by.

Mrs Whatsit, Chapter 5

Light represents good, clarity, and knowledge. The characters identify art as an essential weapon against evil, and the book praises scientific discovery and innovation.

L'Engle comments here on the important role of art, literature, and music in human development. Art expands human understanding, and truly great art has a universal appeal. Mrs Whatsit implies that the painters, musicians, and writers Calvin and Charles Wallace name made an impression beyond planet Earth. "Us" includes the whole universe.


The complete, the true Mrs Whatsit ... was beyond human understanding.

Narrator, Chapter 6

Meg has just learned Mrs Whatsit used to be a star. She has seen Mrs Whatsit take on two different forms, that of a human and that of a celestial creature. Now Meg realizes how expansive and flexible identity can be. The question of what category Mrs Whatsit fits into becomes irrelevant. Meg is confronted with an identity she cannot understand, and she meets it with curiosity and wonder.

Mrs Whatsit's appearance also doesn't show her true nature. As human characters learn, everyone can be more complicated and nuanced than their appearance reveals.


I am peace and utter rest. I am freedom from all responsibility.

Man with red eyes, Chapter 7

IT is speaking through the man with red eyes. He is offering Camazotz's human visitors the tempting proposition of "freedom," where someone else will make all their decisions for them.

Meg, Calvin, and Charles Wallace have already struggled with responsibilities and the unknown. L'Engle shows how totalitarianism can offer the false promise of "peace and utter rest," and how this promise can be seductive.


Differences create problems.

Charles Wallace, Chapter 8

IT speaks through Charles Wallace, explaining how society runs smoothly if everyone is identical. Both Meg and Calvin can attest to the problems of being different, as they both feel lonely and isolated.

Meg's teachers and her brothers Sandy and Dennys wish she were more like everyone else, but Camazotz shows how people can lose everything without individuality. The people of Camazotz have no goals, dreams, or true joy and happiness. Calvin, who tries to fit in at school, declares "I like being different" for the first time.


Maybe if you aren't unhappy sometimes you don't know how to be happy.

Meg, Chapter 8

The society Camazotz presents is one in which no one feels disappointment, loss, or any change in circumstance. Meg—who despised her strong emotions in earlier chapters—sees the importance of emotions now. She learns there is a purpose to unhappiness and pain. This realization will help her cope with the emotional task of saving her family.


Like and equal are two entirely different things.

Narrator, Chapter 9

When Meg says, "All men are created equal," IT—speaking through Charles Wallace—says Camazotz has equality. Everyone on the planet is alike. Meg has a revelation spurred by a language she is comfortable with—the language of math. Likeness or similarity is different from equality.

In human terms, equality provides everyone the same opportunities, while allowing them freedom to pursue individual lives. If everyone is exactly alike, freedom and choice are lost.


We know nothing ... We're children playing with dynamite.

Mr. Murry, Chapter 10

Mr. Murry's experiment with traveling to the fifth dimension has gone wrong. The study of physics—which he calls "a frightening as well as an exciting thing"—taught him how little he knows. This quote shows how humans should approach science and technology with humility and respect.

Mr. Murry, like his son Charles Wallace, has overestimated his own ability to confront forces larger than himself.


We do not know what things look like ... We know what things are like.

Aunt Beast, Chapter 11

Meg cannot imagine how the beasts experience their world without sight. And Aunt Beast cannot imagine relying on physical appearances to understand or experience anything.

The beasts cannot see the stars, for instance, but they know the stars' true nature. This quote points out the crucial difference between appearance and identity. It reminds Meg there is always more to learn about the world.


The things which are seen are temporal ... the things which are not seen are eternal.

Aunt Beast, Chapter 11

Aunt Beast's words here are based on a verse from the second book of Corinthians in the Bible. L'Engle uses the quote to emphasize the importance of intangible qualities.

Aunt Beast cites "love" and "good" as forces helping their planet in the fight against evil. Qualities like love may not be as obvious as visible qualities, like light, but they are stronger. Invisible qualities, or "things that are not seen"—like Meg's stubbornness, Charles Wallace's unique essence, or the family's love—will ultimately save them.


You're given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself.

Mrs Whatsit, Chapter 12

People cannot live a full life on the controlled, regulated planet Camazotz. They also cannot use their freedom irresponsibly without consequences. Here Calvin wonders if the Happy Medium can predict the future. Mrs Whatsit explains how he and the other characters can take control of their own futures.

Life has "a strict form"—certain responsibilities and a limited number of years. But within this form people can create their own lives. This empowering statement leads Meg to her final challenge.


Love. That was what she had that IT did not have.

Narrator, Chapter 12

Meg has spent much of the book thinking about what she lacks. She doesn't feel accomplished, attractive, or adequate. But she has learned her faults of anger and impatience can be strengths when used in the right way.

Now she faces IT, a force with seemingly unlimited power and intelligence. She cannot outsmart or resist IT. Instead, she draws on a simpler, more primal force—her love for her brother.

This is the moment when Meg's journey comes full circle. She knows how lucky she is to be loved. She expresses her emotions freely, and they become an asset, not a drawback. Meg ultimately saves the younger brother who has always taken care of her.

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