A Wrinkle in Time

Question 8.

8. What are the most important lessons that Meg learns over the course of the novel? Why?

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The closing chapter of the book is a meditation on the largest theme running through the novel: love. Previous chapters have focused on the love shared between families and the way in which love strengthens the characters to meet their respective destinies. There is also a hint of romantic love that gives Meg strength, though other L’Engle novels deal more with this specific kind of love. This chapter focuses on sacrificial love and the qualities of salvation inherent in that kind.

Meg fights the instinct to save Charles Wallace, but as soon as she relents she understands the power of her own gesture. Her gift of sacrificial love is the only thing that can save Charles Wallace. Mr. Murry’s love would not be strong enough, nor would Calvin’s love. It is only because Meg has invested so much of herself in the boy that she is able to save him. L’Engle suggests that it is this kind of love that - sacrificial love for one’s neighbor - that is the true power of salvation in the world. In order to discover true love, however, Meg has to overcome her own feelings of anger, disappointment, and ego.

The title of the chapter - The Foolish and the Weak - also is an allusion to a passage of the Bible. Once again, in reference to the writings of the apostle Paul, the chapter alludes to the way in which Meg’s own strength and courage are not enough to save her brother. God’s love is stronger than any selfish emotion, and it is this kind of love that Meg must rely on to save her family. In this way, Meg symbolizes the weak and foolish of the world that God uses to defeat evil.

This love contrasts sharply with the emotion of hate, symbolized by IT. Every time that Meg feels hatred, whether for IT or for Calvin or for her father, she is weakened. It is her hatred that allows IT to grab control of her mind. In the end, it is her greatest difference - the ability to love unconditionally against the forces of hate - that allows her to succeed and defeat IT. The closing scene of the book in which the family reunites is a reminder of the strong bonds of love that L’Engle believes can help renew, heal, and elevate humanity.