A Wrinkle in Time


Madeleine L'Engle

Teachers and parents! Our Teacher Edition on A Wrinkle in Time makes teaching easy.

A Wrinkle in Time: Chapter 8 Summary & Analysis

When 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 in a voice that is his own yet not his own. As he sits down and eats turkey dinner, he tells Meg and Calvin that they were wrong, that the Mrs. W's were their real enemies the whole time. He is colder, crueler, and stronger, and tells them to give in as well, because it's the only way to be happy and to have order.
Though he looks like the real Charles Wallace, the Charles sitting before Meg and Calvin is as fake as the turkey dinner he's eating: his essence has changed. He sees order and sameness as the recipe for happiness, as if happiness comes from lack of surprise. In uniformity there is strength, but the enforcement of uniformity is something cruel and cold.
Deceptive Appearances Theme Icon
The man with red eyes asks Charles to bring Meg and Calvin to Mr. Murry, and strangely, Charles now knows his way around the building. The three leave the man with the red eyes, with Charles leading the way down a corridor. Calvin, with his gift of communication, tries to mentally get in to the real Charles (again through eye contact) and almost succeeds until Charles wrenches himself away at the last second.
Calvin's unusual gift for communication nearly knocks IT out of Charles…and he does this simply by staring intently into Charles' eyes, communicating with the real Charles in a way we can't understand.
Language and Knowing Theme Icon
Charles then lectures them that rather than search for Mr. Murry, Calvin and Meg should give in to IT. He notes how happy everyone is on Camazotz: how no one ever suffers because they kill anyone who is ill, and how everyone is happy because everyone is alike. They enter an elevator, and when Charles makes the point that Meg is unhappy in school because she's different, both Meg and Calvin protest that they'd rather be different than be like everyone else, even if that's hard. When Charles states that all suffering and unhappiness is eliminated on Camazotz, Meg replies, "Maybe if you aren't unhappy sometimes you don't know how to be happy." As they rise up many floors, Charles keeps mentioning IT, who he says is the boss and the one mind that thinks for all the individuals of Camazotz so that individuality no longer exists.
The uniformity enforced on Camazotz is ruthless. It solves the problem of illness by killing the sick person. It essentially strangles all difference as the way to create order. And it sees this order as happiness. But in the monstrousness of Camazotz both Calvin and Meg begin to learn that their differences and even their unhappiness aren't bad things. Though being different is hard, those differences are what make each of them who they are, and that happiness can only exist if its opposite, its diametrically different emotion of unhappiness didn't exist.
Nonconformity Theme Icon
They exit the elevator, and Charles shows them the little boy they saw earlier (who dropped his ball) being tortured so as to know how to play ball in rhythm with everyone else. He's in a cell, whose walls are pulsing, and as he bounces his ball in rhythm with the pulsing of the walls, he screams in pain each time the ball bounces. It's a horrific sight. Finally Charles takes them to a cell, within which is a round, transparent column, within which is…Meg and Charles' father, Mr. Murry.
This is what conformity looks like: Torture. Torture can strip away the differences in an individual, make that individual not want to be different and give in to uniformity because difference results in pain. The "reprocessing" mentioned earlier is just a euphemism for this kind of torture.
Nonconformity Theme Icon
Get the entire A Wrinkle in Time LitChart as a printable PDF.
A Wrinkle in Time PDF