A Wrinkle in Time

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Tesseract Symbol Icon
In geometry, a tesseract means the fifth dimension. In the world of A Wrinkle in Time, a tesseract is that as well, but also an exciting and dangerous way to travel through space and time, as the Mrs. W's and the children do. Mrs. Whatsit attempts to explain it exactly to Meg, Charles, and Calvin in Chapter 5, but a tesseract is essentially a shortcut between two points in space and time: a "wrinkle" in time. Mr. Murry and the U.S. government were experimenting around with tesseracts, and he was accidentally whisked off to the dark planet Camazotz; it is by tessering that the more skilled Mrs. W's take the children around the universe. When Mrs. Whatsit casually mentions a tesseract at the beginning of the story to Mrs. Murry, who turns white, she marks the beginning of the adventure to save Mr. Murry.

Tesseract Quotes in A Wrinkle in Time

The A Wrinkle in Time quotes below all refer to the symbol of Tesseract. 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

"The tesseract—" Mrs. Murry whispered. "What did she mean? How could she have known?"

Related Characters: Mrs. Murry (speaker)
Related Symbols: Tesseract
Page Number: 27
Explanation and Analysis:

This is yet another instance of communication that goes beyond reason. Nobody in Meg's family can explain who this woman is or why she knows anything about the tesseract, which clearly has extreme significance for Mrs. Murry. This scene is another indication that the book will concern itself with the power of knowledge that is not easily explained. It's important to note, too, that Meg is skeptical of Mrs. Whatsit because of her appearance. Meg's concern with what Mrs. Whatsit looks like – her concern about how Mrs. Whatsit doesn't conform – blinds her to the importance of Mrs. Whatsit's presence or knowledge.

This quote is also important because it introduces the tesseract, which is a potent symbol in the book, as well as an engine of its sci-fi plot. While the reader does not yet know what the tesseract is, it is later revealed that the tesseract is a technology that scientists (believing too much in their own ability to reason through any problem) accidentally misused. This has placed the earth (and Mr. Murry) in grave danger, which thematizes the danger of placing too much faith in reason and giving too little respect to the unknown and unknowable.

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Tesseract Symbol Timeline in A Wrinkle in Time

The timeline below shows where the symbol Tesseract appears in A Wrinkle in Time. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Deceptive Appearances Theme Icon
Language and Knowing Theme Icon
...stole the 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... (full context)
Chapter 3
Nonconformity Theme Icon
Deceptive Appearances Theme Icon
Language and Knowing Theme Icon
...says yes, because she misses their father so much, and Mrs. Whatsit's mention of the tesseract has aggravated it. When Meg presses for a further explanation, her mother tells her that... (full context)
Chapter 4
Deceptive Appearances Theme Icon
Language and Knowing Theme Icon
...They're currently standing on a planet outside Earth's galaxy, and they got there by a tesseract, which is a way to travel instantaneously through space and time. (full context)
Chapter 5
Language and Knowing Theme Icon
...and is behind the dark shadow. And they are going to get to him by tessering. Mrs. Whatsit then explains to Meg what a tesseract is: it's like a wrinkle in... (full context)
Nonconformity Theme Icon
Deceptive Appearances Theme Icon
Then the group once more tessers. This time, it's an even more painful experience, since the Mrs. W's accidentally take them... (full context)
Chapter 6
Language and Knowing Theme Icon
The three Mrs. W's and the three children then leave the Happy Medium, and tesser to Camazotz, the dark planet on which Mr. Murry is held captive. This time, the... (full context)
Chapter 9
Nonconformity Theme Icon
Language and Knowing Theme Icon
...rhythm, but IT is becoming too much for her. Calvin shouts for Mr. Murry to tesser them away, Mr. Murry grabs their wrists and does so. The tessering is so painful... (full context)
Chapter 10
Language and Knowing Theme Icon
...how he ended up on Camazotz. It turns out it was never his intention to tesser to Camazotz—along with some other scientists he was trying to tesser to Mars, but he... (full context)
The Value of Love Theme Icon
Christian References Theme Icon
...to her that if they'd tried to rip Charles from the clutches of IT by tessering with him, it might have destroyed his mind. Her main disappointment is in her father:... (full context)
Chapter 11
Deceptive Appearances Theme Icon
...they are also fighters against the Black Thing. They reveal that it is, in fact, tessering through the Black Thing that has caused Meg's injuries. Despite herself, Meg feels calm and... (full context)
Chapter 12
The Value of Love Theme Icon
Language and Knowing Theme Icon
Christian References Theme Icon
...wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men." Mrs. Which then tessers with Meg to Camazotz, leaving her on the same spot outside the town at which... (full context)
The Value of Love Theme Icon
...into her arms, sobbing her name, and, after the abrupt and cold feeling of a tesseract, they find themselves back home in the Murry's backyard, along with Calvin and Mr. Murry!... (full context)