A Wrinkle in Time

A Wrinkle in Time Summary and Analysis of Chapter 9: IT


Meg attempts to run to her father, but she runs into a transparent glass that she cannot pass through. Calving notes that it is like a peephole - they can see, but Meg’s father cannot see out. Charles Wallace, still under the influence of IT, makes a few snide remarks about their father’s appearance. Meg tries to tackle him again in order to break the hold of IT, but Charles Wallace has extraordinary strength and is able to rebuff her attempts.

Calvin attempts again to persuade Charles Wallace to ignore the hold that IT has on him. He concentrates on the boy, trying to speak to him with his mind. He tells Charles Wallace about the Shakespearean play The Tempest and notes that “it was the witch who put Ariel in the cloven pine” and then compares Charles Wallace to Ariel. Calvin’s work almost frees Charles Wallace, but in the end it fails.

Meg suddenly remembers that Mrs. Who had given her the spectacles, and she figures that this must be the last chance to use them and get to her father. She puts them on and is able to fling herself through the transparent glass and into the imprisoning column that holds her father.

She presses herself against her father and they embrace. Meg describes it as one of the best feelings she had ever had in her life. Her father is surprised that she is there, but when Meg tries to convince him to leave, she realizes that he can’t see anything. The inside of the column is dark and it is only because of the spectacles that Meg can see. She takes off the glasses and gives them to her father. He puts her on his back and they run through the transparent glass that separates them from Calvin and Charles Wallace.

On the other side of the glass, Mr. Murry tries to be consoling to Charles Wallace, but Charles Wallace begins to taunt the man. Meg tries to tell him that Charles Wallace is possessed by IT, but Mr. Murry has a hard time understanding. Charles Wallace ignores the commands of his father and then decides that he must lead them to see IT.

As they walk out of the CENTRAL Central Intelligence building, Meg feels despair. She had thought that by finding her father everything would turn out okay, but she now realizes she was mistaken. She wants to give up, but Calvin urges her to continue forward. They walk down a street and come to a domed building - the place where IT is housed. As they enter the building, Meg discovers exactly what IT is...a “dismembered brain.” Meg thinks that it is the most horrible and disgusting thing that she had ever seen.

The brain is giving of a pulsing rhythm that makes it hard for anyone to speak or to think for themselves. Meg realizes that through the rhythm she is being sucked into IT’s power and that if she continues to hear the rhythm, she will lose her own independent thought and become one of IT’s minions. She tries to recite nursery rhymes like Charles Wallace had in their encounter with the Man with the Red Eyes, and then tries to remember the Declaration of Independence. She recites the first lines - that “all men are created equal” and that they have “certain unalienable rights.” IT responds that on Camazotz, all men are equal because IT controls all their actions and thoughts so that everyone is exactly “alike.” Meg rejects this line of thinking, responding that “like and equal are not the same thing....”

Mr. Murry tries to help Meg reject the brain’s power. He tells her to recite the periodic table and to perform some math problems in her head, but all of it is no use. Meg feels herself being pushed under the power of the brain. Calvin tells Mr. Murry to “tesser” and so he grabs her and they disappear through time and space.


Meg’s reunion with her father suggests that the strength of familial love is the most powerful bond of all. To Meg, this kind of love gives her the best feelings of her life, and for a moment, being reunited with her father causes her to forget all of the bad things that have happened. But, this kind of love cannot conquer all evil, for L’Engle again places her characters in the tension of trouble. While familial love gives Meg a particular kind of strength, it is not the ultimate love of salvation.

Calvin’s recitation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest and Meg’s recitation of The Declaration of Independence, are symbols of the unique creative genius that L’Engle believes to be the antithesis of the evil represented by IT and the planet Camazotz. The Tempest also relates to the story as the play features a man and his daughter trapped together amidst a land of evil spirits. But it is Shakespeare’s and Jefferson’s creative genius that L’Engle sees as the true spirit of good that can defeat IT.

Mrs. Who’s spectacles also hold a particular literary symbolism. The spectacles represent clear thinking informed by observation of the world. Part of the reason that Mr. Murry cannot defeat IT while imprisoned in the transparent column is because he cannot see what is happening around him. By placing the spectacles on his eyes, he is able to better comprehend the world and can thus lead Meg to safety. L’Engle’s own philosophy of learning is similar. This is but one example in the book where observation of a situation leads to a better outcome. The spectacles, then, represent a way of learning and perceiving the world that does not simply rely on blind judgment.

Meg’s recitation of the Declaration of Independence is a form of literary comparison in which L’Engle relies on one piece of famous writing to illuminate a particular characteristic in her own writing. Meg recites the lines about all people being created equal. This, the book suggests, is the genius of the document - it allows individuals to gain maxim freedom and expression. IT tries to turn the argument around, suggesting that Camazotz is the ultimate expression of equality. But Meg argues back that being “alike” and being “equal” are not the same thing.

This can be read as a political commentary. The years in which L’Engle was writing the book were some of the most tense years in U.S. / Soviet relations. Camazotz can be seen as a play on Russian society in which everyone was expected to be “alike.” L’Engle’s commentary on communism, thus, asserts that the political system is a perversion of true equality because it suppresses the creative impulse. By using the founding document of U.S. democracy, L’Engle makes a bold statement for the legitimacy of that particular political system.