A Wrinkle in Time

Pdf fan Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)

Charles Wallace Murry Character Analysis

Meg's gifted five-year-old brother, Charles Wallace's talents extend from advanced factual and scientific knowledge to an unusual ability to penetrate and understand the minds of others. His assurance of his abilities proves to be his vulnerability as he believes he can mentally fight IT, and ends up being absorbed into IT, until Meg's love brings him back.

Charles Wallace Murry Quotes in A Wrinkle in Time

The A Wrinkle in Time quotes below are all either spoken by Charles Wallace Murry or refer to Charles Wallace Murry. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Nonconformity Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Square Fish edition of A Wrinkle in Time published in 2007.
Chapter 1 Quotes

How did Charles Wallace always know about her? How could he always tell? He never knew—or seemed to care—what Dennys or Sandy were thinking. It was his mother's mind, and Meg's that he probed with frightening accuracy.

Related Characters: Meg Murry (speaker), Charles Wallace Murry, Sandy and Dennys Murry
Page Number: 13
Explanation and Analysis:

One of the major concerns of A Wrinkle in Time is with powers beyond rational knowledge. This quote establishes Meg's character as someone who is perturbed when confronted with phenomena that she doesn't understand. Meg's preference for the comprehensible (as opposed to mystery) tempts her to jump to easy conclusions based on appearances, which is something Charles Wallace is less prone to. As shown in this quote, this is part of Charles Wallace's gif: understanding things about people that they aren't explicitly communicating, or knowing essential truths about other people that aren't readily apparent. Charles Wallace's gift is also important because it is not rationally explained. He has powers that nobody can exactly account for or duplicate. This is one of many nods in this book to the importance of forces beyond rationality.  

It is significant that Charles Wallace focuses his gift on characters who are the least "normal" (i.e. those who don't conform to the "rules" or expectations of society). Sandy and Dennys represent people who fit in socially, and Charles Wallace prefers to spend his energy on those who don't. As the book ultimately shows, this is because those who are able to express their individuality are those who have power. The only people who can fight evil are those who understand and respect themselves enough to not automatically conform to their surroundings. 

A+

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other A Wrinkle in Time quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!
Chapter 2 Quotes

"…I'm a sport."
At that Charles Wallace grinned widely. "So ‘m I."
"I don't mean like in baseball," Calvin said.
"Neither do I."
"I mean like in biology," Calvin said suspiciously.
"A change in gene," Charles Wallace quoted, "resulting in the appearance in the offspring of a character which is not present in the parents but which is potentially transmissible to the its offspring."

Related Characters: Charles Wallace Murry (speaker), Calvin O'Keefe (speaker)
Page Number: 38
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, we see the effects of the kind of appearance-based stereotyping that the book is committed to debunking. Calvin, who knows that everyone just sees him as an athletic popular kid who lacks anything interesting beyond those qualities, does not believe that Charles Wallace truly understands who he is. For this reason, Calvin is suspicious and over-explains what he means when he says he's a sport (he's actually using a technical term from biology). This shows how restrictive Calvin's popularity and public image has been to his inner life and individuality. Charles Wallace, on the other hand, is displaying his mysterious gift for understanding people – he seems to see straight past Calvin's appearance and reputation to his essence. He never seems to doubt that Calvin is the person he is claiming to be. 

This passage also directly addresses the question of difference. All three of these characters are seen as eccentric or different in some way, and here Charles Wallace and Calvin are acknowledging it for the first time in a way that seems positive (as opposed to the way Meg thinks about her differences as negative).

Chapter 3 Quotes

"But Charles Wallace doesn't look different from anybody else."
"No, Meg, but people are more than just the way they look. Charles Wallace's difference isn't physical. It's in essence."

Related Characters: Meg Murry (speaker), Mrs. Murry (speaker), Charles Wallace Murry
Page Number: 54
Explanation and Analysis:

This is another example of Meg's tendency to place too much importance on superficial appearance. Even her own brother, whom she loves deeply, is in some way unseen by her because of it – Meg doesn't understand his "essence" because she can't look past his appearance. Meg's mother, on the other hand, does understand that Charles Wallace is different, and she is able to love him for it. She recognizes that his individuality is a gift and that it has given him powers of understanding that cannot be explained.

This chapter has made it clear that Meg is uniquely adept at math. She wants the world to behave like a math problem in which you follow rules to solve a puzzle and arrive at a single right answer. That Meg's mother, a brilliant scientist, is here suggesting that things might not be that simple is important. Meg needs to hear this from many credible sources throughout the book before she can truly embrace this way of thinking.

Chapter 5 Quotes

"Who have our fighters been?" Calvin asked.
"Oh, you must know them, dear," Mrs. Whatsit said.
Mrs. Who's spectacles shone out at them triumphantly, "And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not."
"Jesus!" Charles Wallace said. "Why of course, Jesus!"
"Of course!" Mrs. Whatsit said. "Go on, Charles, love. There were others. All your great artists. They've been lights for us to see by."

Related Characters: Charles Wallace Murry (speaker), Calvin O'Keefe (speaker), Mrs. Whatsit (speaker), Mrs. Who (speaker)
Page Number: 100
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Mrs. Whatsit sheds some light on what the real forces for good in the world are. As expected, the people she names are all ones who have prioritized their individuality and brought their unique visions to the world. She names Jesus and a few artists/writers – these were all people who had the courage to have radical ideas. It's also important that each of these people grappled in their work with ideas that weren't quite comprehensible. This is what artists do, they try to make sense of the world through creating art rather than by trying to control the world or analyze it. In other words, artists tend not to have illusions of being in control of the world around them. As we've already seen, this book does not look favorably on those who are arrogant enough to believe that they understand everything and are therefore powerful. 

This section also clarifies the author's thoughts on the relevance of Christianity. While she certainly believes that Jesus is an exemplary force for good, she puts him alongside secular heroes like Shakespeare and Euclid. This shows that Christianity is, for this author, an important force in the world, but one that operates in conjunction with all different kinds of ideas. It is one way of capturing a positive way to live in the world, but not the only way.

Chapter 7 Quotes

Now the red eyes and the light above seemed to bore into Charles, and again the pupils of the little boy's eyes contracted. When the final point of black was lost in blue he turned away from the red eyes, looked at Meg, and smiled sweetly, but the smile was not Charles Wallace's smile.

Related Characters: The Man with the Red Eyes (speaker), Charles Wallace Murry
Page Number: 146
Explanation and Analysis:

This is one of the most concrete examples in the book of the disconnection between appearance and reality. This scene, in which Charles Wallace's body is physically present but his personality is gone shows that Charles Wallace's essence is something that is entirely separate from how he appears. To confront this version of Charles Wallace is a challenge to these characters because it seems to them to be Charles Wallace, but they have to remember that this version of him is not who he truly is. 

This scene also shows the unreliability of language. The possessed Charles Wallace tries to rationally convince Meg and Calvin that they need to conform to Camazotz. While the argument seems reasonable and is coming from someone who looks like a trusted person (Charles Wallace), it is crucial that the characters remember that there is a truth that this version of Charles Wallace is obscuring. They cannot listen to his words no matter how compelling they seem.

Chapter 8 Quotes

"Nobody suffers here," Charles intoned. "Nobody is ever unhappy."
"But nobody's ever happy, either," Meg said earnestly. "Maybe if you aren't unhappy sometimes you don't know how to be happy."

Related Characters: Charles Wallace Murry (speaker), IT (speaker), Meg Murry
Page Number: 157
Explanation and Analysis:

Here, Charles Wallace's body (though not him as a person, as his essence is different than his appearance) is trying to talk Meg and Calvin into submitting to the conformity of Camazotz. He does this by offering the kind of easy happiness that The Man with the Red Eyes offered. This is a moment in which Meg is beginning to realize that the kinds of easy solutions that she craves are not always the correct ones (in contrast to math, which she is so good at).

She begins to understand that happiness and unhappiness are linked – you can't have one without the other because they exist in relation to one another. In a way, this is another case of deceptive appearances. The Man with the Red Eyes promises that everyone is happy on Camazotz and there is no suffering or pain. However, even if people on Camazotz were always happy, that happiness would lose its meaning in the absence of all different kinds of emotions. In other words, just like it's important to have many different kinds of people in the world, it is also important to have many different emotions.

Chapter 9 Quotes

Breathing quickly with excitement, Calvin continued to pin Charles Wallace with his stare. "You're like Ariel in the cloven pine, Charles. And I can let you out. Look at me, Charles. Come back to us."

Related Characters: Calvin O'Keefe (speaker), Charles Wallace Murry
Page Number: 163
Explanation and Analysis:

In this scene, Calvin is trying to pull Charles Wallace back from the brink of submitting fully to IT. To do so, Calvin quotes from Shakespeare's play The Tempest, a passage that Mrs. Who gave him as her parting gift when she left them on Camazotz. The passage is directly relevant to the situation that the characters are in. It's about Ariel refusing to obey the commands of his master, and Calvin hopes that Ariel's courage will inspire Charles Wallace.

On a broader level, though, the Shakespeare passage almost succeeds in bringing Charles Wallace back from IT not simply because of its literal content, but because it is a work of art. L'Engle has repeatedly emphasized that art strikes out against conformity, because in order to create art the artist has to fully embrace his or her individuality. Art is an enemy on Camazotz because it celebrates individuality and encourages critical thought.

"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!"

Related Characters: Meg Murry (speaker), Charles Wallace Murry (speaker), IT (speaker)
Page Number: 177
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Meg is reciting the Declaration of Independence in order to fight off IT. She believes that this document can be an effective weapon against IT because it is the foundational document of a society built on individuality and freedom of expression. When she says that "all men are created equal," though, IT tries to manipulate those words by twisting them to support IT's point of view.

However, when he tells Meg that everyone on Camazotz is equal because they are exactly alike, Meg recognizes that this is nonsense, and she tells him that "like and equal are not the same." This is important growth in Meg's character – at the beginning of the book, Meg would have liked to be like everyone else. However, now that she has seen the dystopian society on Camazotz, she understands that her values need to change to embrace nonconformity.

Chapter 12 Quotes

Charles. Charles, I love you. My baby brother who always takes care of me. Come back to me, Charles Wallace, come away from IT, come back, come home. I love you, Charles. Oh, Charles Wallace, I love you.

Related Characters: Meg Murry (speaker), Charles Wallace Murry, IT
Page Number: 229
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Meg is alone on Camazotz fighting IT to save Charles Wallace. It is here that she finally realizes the power and importance of love. In previous attempts to save Charles Wallace, the characters focused on individuality, reciting the Declaration of Independence, for instance, in order to set him free. While these attempts nearly worked, none was powerful enough to combat IT. In this final attempt, Meg realizes that the only force powerful enough to combat IT is love, since love is something that IT lacks entirely. Meg realizes that she must abandon all commitment to rationality and focus simply on loving her brother, which she does successfully.

This is the ultimate vindication of the power of love, as L'Engle posits that love is literally the only force in the universe that can combat evil. The arc of the book suggests that the embrace of love comes in several forms – first is love of the self, which includes accepting one's own nonconformity, and second is turning that love outward to others. As the book's characters demonstrate, this kind of love is contagious, in that it teaches the recipients of love to love themselves and others in turn. 

Get the entire A Wrinkle in Time LitChart as a printable PDF.
A wrinkle in time.pdf.medium

Charles Wallace Murry Character Timeline in A Wrinkle in Time

The timeline below shows where the character Charles Wallace Murry appears in A Wrinkle in Time. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Nonconformity Theme Icon
...down to the kitchen in search of hot cocoa, where she finds her five-year-old brother, Charles Wallace, waiting for her. (full context)
Nonconformity Theme Icon
Deceptive Appearances Theme Icon
Charles Wallace is another cause of Meg's concern. He's unusually intelligent (not surprising, as both their... (full context)
Nonconformity Theme Icon
The Value of Love Theme Icon
Anticipating her thoughts, Charles has already put some hot milk on the stove for Meg. As they chat and... (full context)
Deceptive Appearances Theme Icon
Language and Knowing Theme Icon
...bringing back in an old woman covered in an absurd amount of brightly colored clothing. Charles seems to know her and calls her Mrs. Whatsit. Meg is very suspicious of her,... (full context)
Deceptive Appearances Theme Icon
Language and Knowing Theme Icon
...constable's wife's sheets, and furthermore, that there is such a thing as a "tesseract". While Charles and Meg have no idea what this means, Mrs. Murry turns white and murmurs to... (full context)
Chapter 2
Nonconformity Theme Icon
The Value of Love Theme Icon
Language and Knowing Theme Icon
When she returns home, Meg finds Charles waiting for her with a snack, Fortinbras on a leash, and a plan to go... (full context)
Nonconformity Theme Icon
Deceptive Appearances Theme Icon
Language and Knowing Theme Icon
As they near Mrs. Whatsit's house, Meg and Charles are surprised to run into a boy from Meg's school: Calvin O'Keefe. Meg only knows... (full context)
Nonconformity Theme Icon
Deceptive Appearances Theme Icon
Language and Knowing Theme Icon
...house. Mrs. Who often expresses herself by quoting great authors, frequently in different languages. When Charles asks Mrs. Who if she knows Calvin, she says, "He wasn't my idea, Charlsie, but... (full context)
Language and Knowing Theme Icon
As the three of them return to the Murrys house, Meg is thoroughly confused. Charles doesn't know quite what's going on yet but says that he's sure Mrs. Whatsit and... (full context)
Chapter 3
Nonconformity Theme Icon
Deceptive Appearances Theme Icon
Language and Knowing Theme Icon
After dinner, Calvin goes upstairs to read Charles a book before goes to bed (Charles requests the Book of Genesis), and Meg tentatively... (full context)
Deceptive Appearances Theme Icon
At that moment, Charles Wallace steps out of the shadows and apologizes for interrupting, but tells them that the... (full context)
Chapter 4
Language and Knowing Theme Icon
A moment ago, Meg was standing with Calvin and Charles in the backyard of their house. Now, all of sudden, she is whipped into nothingness.... (full context)
Chapter 5
Language and Knowing Theme Icon
...spots in space and time together and cross over from one to the other. When Charles and Calvin understand her explanation but Meg doesn't, Charles gives Meg a more mathematical explanation,... (full context)
Christian References Theme Icon
...universe, and some of the best fighters for the good have come from Earth. When Charles asks who, Mrs. Who smilingly quotes from the Gospel of John, "And the light shineth... (full context)
Chapter 6
Language and Knowing Theme Icon
...three "gifts": to Calvin, his unusual ability to communicate, to Meg, her faults, and to Charles, his childhood. Mrs. Who, who, like Mrs. Which, wasn't able to materialize fully on Camazotz,... (full context)
Nonconformity Theme Icon
Deceptive Appearances Theme Icon
Language and Knowing Theme Icon
As Meg, Charles, and Calvin walk through the neighborhood on the outskirts, they notice that every house is... (full context)
Nonconformity Theme Icon
...same way, and he suspiciously stops them and asks them what they're doing out. When Charles asks him about this city, the boy tells him that it has the highest production... (full context)
Deceptive Appearances Theme Icon
Language and Knowing Theme Icon
...going in and out in a mechanical manner, paying no attention to the children. As Charles tries to mentally probe them a bit, he becomes sure that they're not robots because... (full context)
Chapter 7
Nonconformity Theme Icon
Meg, Charles, and Calvin enter the building. Inside, they ask a man how to see whoever's in... (full context)
Language and Knowing Theme Icon
As soon as they are near him, Charles begins to feel something trying to take over his mind, but he is able to... (full context)
Nonconformity Theme Icon
Language and Knowing Theme Icon
The man with red eyes seems to have been expecting Meg and Charles, but not Calvin (who is apparently an unpleasant surprise). Still, he doesn't seem too bothered,... (full context)
The Value of Love Theme Icon
The man with red eyes seems to be most focused on Charles Wallace, and he invites Charles to mentally probe him to find out who he is.... (full context)
Deceptive Appearances Theme Icon
To prove that Charles must be permitted to complete this in order to advance to the next level, the... (full context)
Chapter 8
Deceptive Appearances Theme Icon
...Meg demands of the man with the red eyes what has happened to the real Charles Wallace, the man innocently protests that he's right there before her. This new Charles speaks... (full context)
Language and Knowing Theme Icon
The man with red eyes asks Charles to bring Meg and Calvin to Mr. Murry, and strangely, Charles now knows his way... (full context)
Nonconformity Theme Icon
Charles then lectures them that rather than search for Mr. Murry, Calvin and Meg should give... (full context)
Nonconformity Theme Icon
They exit the elevator, and Charles shows them the little boy they saw earlier (who dropped his ball) being tortured so... (full context)
Chapter 9
Language and Knowing Theme Icon
...it was transparent. Mr. Murry can't seem to hear or see her through the barrier. Charles sniggers, as he isn't going to allow them in, and advises them to give into... (full context)
Language and Knowing Theme Icon
Outside, the Charles Wallace under the control of IT awaits, displeased. Meg briefly introduces her father to Calvin.... (full context)
Nonconformity Theme Icon
Language and Knowing Theme Icon
Charles leads Meg, his father, and Calvin out of the CENTRAL Central Intelligence building, through nighttime... (full context)
Nonconformity Theme Icon
Language and Knowing Theme Icon
...Declaration of Independence. But when she says "that all men are created equal", IT, using Charles as mouthpiece, tells her that on Camazotz everyone is equal, everyone is alike. In a... (full context)
Chapter 10
The Value of Love Theme Icon
Christian References Theme Icon
...that they are on a dull gray plain bordered by dull gray trees, and that Charles Wallace isn't with them. She instantly becomes very upset with her father for leaving her... (full context)
Chapter 11
The Value of Love Theme Icon
Christian References Theme Icon
Their discussion turns to Charles Wallace, and as soon as Meg begins blaming her father for abandoning him, the beast... (full context)
Chapter 12
The Value of Love Theme Icon
...Murry tells them that he is going to try to return to Camazotz to get Charles back, but Mrs. Which tells him that were he to go he would not be... (full context)
The Value of Love Theme Icon
Meg realizes that she is the one who must rescue Charles. She feels terrified and overwhelmed, bursts into tears, and cries out, "All right, I'll go,... (full context)
Nonconformity Theme Icon
The Value of Love Theme Icon
...Happy Medium have both seen that for Meg to go alone is the only way Charles may be saved, though they don't know what will happen…but they do believe she will... (full context)
The Value of Love Theme Icon
...take over her lungs and heart…but she fights. Even more painful is the sight of Charles, whose blue eyes are still slowly twirling and who is crouching, slack-jawed by IT. When... (full context)
The Value of Love Theme Icon
Meg stands there, gazing at Charles, and loving him. She focuses not on IT, but on her own brother who she... (full context)