Next, the children watch the battle between a star and the darkness in the ball of the Happy Medium. The star, in a great burst of light, gives its life to destroy the Darkness in a part of the galaxy. Mrs. Which reveals that that is what Mrs. Whatsit did: she was once a star, and gave her life in the battle against the Black Thing, and is a star no longer. All the children look at Mrs. Whatsit with a new sense of respect and love.
Similar to Christ's sacrifice, Mrs. Whatsit gave her own life as a star to destroy the Darkness.
As a parting gift, the Medium shows the children their mothers; this turns out to be not as happy a thing as she had thought, for when they see Calvin's mother, she is unkempt and beating one of Calvin's younger siblings, and Mrs. Murry is sitting in her lab, writing to Mr. Murry like she does every night, and eventually puts her face in her hands, showing the unhappiness that she doesn't allow to show in front of her children. As sad as this sight is, Meg is only inspired even more to fight the Black Thing and rescue her father.
Meg's deep love for her mother inspires her all the more to go forth on this quest to save her father from the Black Thing. She also appreciates her own mother all the more after seeing Calvin's dirty, not-so-kind mother (though one ought not to judge off appearances).
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 tesseract is painfully cold and dark as they must pass through the Darkness to get to the planet. On Camazotz, the children find themselves standing on a hill outside a town, which looks like any normal town on Earth.
Meg knows that they are passing through Evil to get to Camazotz because of how much more awful the tesseract feels: the painful feelings she describes are another way of knowing evil. Also, Camazotz literally sounds like a perverted Camelot, the legendary city of the King Arthur myth, as in Camazotz is the perfect city gone wrong.
Mrs. Whatsit tells the children that she cannot come with them in search of Mr. Murry; they are on their own here. However, she gives them 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, gives Calvin a quote from Shakespeare's The Tempest which begins, "For that he was a spirit too delicate / To act their earthy and abhorr'd commands…" To Charles, Mrs. Who gives a quote from Goethe, a reminder that he does not know everything. To Meg, she gives her glasses, to be used only in grave danger. Mrs. Which gives all three of them her command: to go down into the town and to stay together, no matter what. Then the Mrs. W's disappear, and the three children go down into the town.
Except for Mrs. Who's glasses, the gifts of the Mrs. W's to the children consist mostly of words and quotes, a testament to the power of words and especially great words written by great artists. The specific gifts themselves are also meaningful. The quote from The Tempest is about how the spirit Ariel refuses to follow the vicious commands of Caliban and his mother Sycorax, a quote that shows how an individual can resist the control of those attempting to wield power over him. The quote for Charles is a reminder that despite his special gifts he is not all powerful and should be careful—a quote he fails to heed when confronting the man with the red eyes. And Meg's gift is the gift of sight, of seeing clearly, something that Meg in her desire for quick easy answers doesn't always do.
As Meg, Charles, and Calvin walk through the neighborhood on the outskirts, they notice that every house is exactly the same. The children outside the houses play ball and jump rope in rhythm with the actions of all the others. Then all the mothers come out of their houses at the same time, clap their hands, and the children proceed inside. It's strangely robotic. There is one boy who remains, however, who wasn't bouncing his ball in rhythm with all the rest, and his mother upon seeing him rushes outside and brings him in. Picking up the ball that the boy has just dropped, Charles Wallace goes to knock on that family's door. The mother opens the door and seems very frightened, and tells him that all her papers are in order and that nothing should be wrong. The three children leave her and keep walking towards the center of town.
Everyone looks like normal human beings on Camazotz, but they sure don't act like normal beings. There is total conformity: everyone looks the same and acts the same. At first this seems odd, then a bit unnerving. But the mother's nervousness about the boy who doesn't conform shows that the conformity is enforced, and a failure to conform carries some kind of significant punishment. The woman seems afraid of any human interaction, as shown in her response to Charles Wallace. There is no actual humanity or connection here—conformity destroys it.
A paper boy on his bike passes them, throwing every newspaper exactly the 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 levels on the planet, that there has been no trouble there for centuries, and that is the location of CENTRAL Central Intelligence, where IT makes ITs home. The children have no idea what any of that means, but the boy directs the children towards the CENTRAL Central Intelligence center, and they head toward it.
Total conformity on Camazotz means total efficiency— it's worth noting that all of this sounds a bit like Communism, where everyone is the same and production (a word Karl Marx, founder of communism, like to use) is at optimum levels. This is also the introduction of IT, which is a menacing name for anything in its body-less non-human generality but also is a common acronym for "Information Technology," suggesting the novel may also see conformity as arising from technology, especially as its great "fighters against the dark" are artists and writers.
Eventually they come to an enormous building which must be the CENTRAL Central Intelligence. Adults are 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 they have minds, but their minds are all pulsing in the same way. He becomes frightened once he realizes he can't get through to them at all. After an argument about whether or not they ought to go in, especially if this is the place of danger where Mr. Murry is being kept, the three decide to go in together. Charles is worried that he won't recognize his father after not seeing him for a year, but Meg reassures him. Calvin says he's having another one of his intuitions, another compulsion (like the one he had when he first met them), that if they go inside the building they'll be in terrible danger. But they realize they have no choice.
It's just like Mrs. Murry said about Charles: the difference of these people is not physical, but in essence. The normal human means of understanding people doesn't work here, and neither does Charles' mental gift of understanding people. When everyone is the same, there is nothing to understand.