A Wrinkle in Time

A Wrinkle in Time Summary and Analysis of Chapter 11: Aunt Beast


Mr. Murry tries to fight the beasts that have grabbed Meg in their tentacles, but they tell him that she has suffered some grave damage by going through the Black Thing and that they must take her away and try to save her life. Calvin tells them that they are from earth, a “shadowed planet” and that they are here trying to fight the Black Thing. Meg tries to resist the beasts just as she had IT, but soon she begins to feel the warmth of the beasts and realizes that it was a “sense of security that was deeper than anything she had known since the days when she lay in her mother’s arms....” Soon, she falls asleep.

When she awakens she finds herself in a room where something “warm and pungent” was being rubbed into her body. She knows that her father had not saved her; the beasts had. The beasts tell her to lie still and to become “an infant again” in order to break the spell of the Black Thing.

When she asks why it is dark in the room, she and the beasts begin a conversation on what it means to see. Since the beasts have no eyes, they don’t understand the concept of light or what things look like. Meg realizes that these beasts have senses much deeper than sight and they tell her that they understand the nature of stars - “their music...and dance” - much better than she does by looking at them. The beast agrees that earth must be a very strange planet.

Meg explains that light is like the sun - when you are turned towards it you can see and when you are turned away you cannot because it is dark. She wants to know what her father and Calvin are doing about Charles Wallace and the beast tells her that they are helping them figure out a plan right now. They tell her that they are not going to abandon Charles Wallace but that they cannot rush back to a dark planet like Camazotz without being in danger.

The beast tells Meg to communicate with it through her mind, and so Meg communicates the idea of an “aunt beast,” a title that it feels appropriate. Aunt Beast than sings to her in a musical language that is more beautiful and uplifting than anything that Meg had ever heard before. By looking around Meg realizes that the planet had no need for color or light - that it was the beasts inner goodness that illuminated the planet in a different way than light rdid. Aunt Beast tells Meg that they are constantly fighting the Dark Thing and that they are “called according to His purpose, and whom He calls, them He also justifies.” The “He” in the quote is goodness and light and love.

Aunt Beast brings Meg to her father and Calvin and they sit to eat a meal. Meg again feels the sting of disappointment and anger swell up inside of her when she is with her family again. She cannot help but blame both her father and Calvin for getting them into this mess and for not being able to save Charles Wallace. Calvin tells Meg to try to explain who the three ladies are. She attempts to communicate with her mind - using math concepts or what they look like, but the beasts can’t quite understand. Calvin interupts and says that they are “Guardian angels” and “Messengers of God,” and though the beasts almost understand they simply cannot grasp the simple language of the earthlings. Just as they are about to give up, a voice enters the hall yelling - “WWEEE ARRE HHERRE!”


The juxtaposition of the three protagonists with the beasts and their world is a reflection by L’Engle on the nature of a “shadowed planet." In the cosmology that L’Engle posits here, earth is not simply a good or evil place. Instead, it is a part of the nuanced moral landscape that Meg increasingly finds herself struggling with. Understanding the world in these terms allows L’Engle to explore the Christian framework with more depth.

Meg’s brief explanation of light and the sun is an example of this. In this framework, the sun represents God, or the goodness in the universe that God is the symbol of. Meg explains that when one looks toward the sun, one can see, but when one is turned away from the sun, one cannot see. This symbolizes L’Engle’s understanding of an individual’s right relationship with God. When one seeks to put oneself within the “light” of God, one can understand the choices of right and wrong and make the right decisions. When one is not in the “light” of God, one cannot see properly to make such critical choices.

This also contrasts with L’Engle’s earlier meditation on “seeing” when Meg was first saving her father. In that instance, “seeing” was understood as the ability of the individual to see and comprehend the world around them. This was represented by the glasses that Meg and her father wore to save themselves from IT. In this instance, however, L’Engle contrasts this with the ability to see the inner parts of a person and the world - things such as emotions and spirituality. In L’Engle’s worldview, this is just as important as understanding the outer parts of the world.

The planet of Ixchel represents the need for individuals to see the inner beauty of things, not just the outer beauty of the world. The planet, being devoid of most light, of course, does not provide a facile sense of beauty or wonder. But it is the beasts' inner goodness that suffuses the planet with light.

The beasts refer to a biblical passage, again from the Book of Romans, that illuminates their mode of living: “We are called according to His purpose....” The beasts do not attempt to understand the world according to its outer beauty and dimensions, but instead rely on the inner goodness of the universe - what some might call God. This completes L’Engle’s cosmology for the book, one based on both outer beauty and inner goodness.

Meg’s healing from the damage of the Dark Thing also highlights once again the symbolism of childhood as the ideal state of innocence. L’Engle portrays childhood as the essence of creativity and thus, when Meg’s body needs to heal - to recreate itself - Aunt Beast tells her to become a child again. This is also a part of the Christian framework of the novel and alludes to a passage in the Gospel of Mark in which Jesus tells his followers to have faith like children so that they can regain the innocence necessary to become children of God.