Aunt Beast in A Wrinkle in Time

Instructor: Kelly Beaty

Kelly has taught fifth grade language arts and adult ESL. She has a master's degree in education and a graduate certificate in TESOL.

Aunt Beast is one of many unusual creatures in 'A Wrinkle in Time.' Its appearance and perspective on life differ greatly from that of humans. In this lesson, you will learn about Aunt Beast's role in the story as well as what Meg, Mr. Murry, and Calvin learn from this creature.

Truly Seeing

Think about your best friend. How would you describe him or her without mention of anything physical? Perhaps she makes you laugh. Maybe he always does the right thing. You always feel at peace around her. . .

These descriptions speak of timeless qualities, as opposed to references to the physical realm. The 'beasts' in A Wrinkle in Time experience the world on this timeless level: in part because they cannot see; in part because they see much more deeply than those of us with eyes.

What is a 'Beast'?

Aunt Beast is part of a species that Mr. Murry, Meg, and Calvin refer to as beasts because they do not resemble anything familiar to people from Earth. They encounter this unusual species on Ixchel, a peaceful planet they accidentally land on while trying to escape from Camazotz. When three odd-looking creatures approach, they are too exhausted to even be afraid.

The beasts are tall and walk upright. Their faces have slits where the eyes, nose, and mouth ought to be. From four arms extend tentacles rather than fingers. Soft gray fur covers their bodies. Their speech is understandable, but it comes through the tentacles instead of the mouth slit.

An internet search for images of Aunt Beast yields multiple interpretations of this character. Some resemble a sasquatch, while others look more like a squid. Height, furriness, tentacles, and facial features have been interpreted in countless ways. This demonstrates the power of literature to stimulate our imaginations.

Naming Aunt Beast

Meg was seriously injured during space travel. When the beasts discover Meg's precarious condition, one of them tells Mr. Murry, 'This child is in danger. You must trust us.' Mr. Murry and Calvin realize that Meg's only hope is to allow the beasts to care for her.

As this beast holds Meg, she feels repulsed by the looks of the creature; however, with the first touch of a tentacle, her pain lessens and she feels warmth coming from its furry body. She falls asleep in the comfort of its arms and wakes up feeling better, even though she is in a dark and unfamiliar place.

Meg is grateful to this loving creature for restoring her health, but she has no idea what to call it. (Even gender is not identifiable among the beasts.) When she asks, the beast tells her to think about all of the words for people she knows on Earth… mother, father, friend, acquaintance, teacher . . . AUNT! The word that sticks is aunt, Aunt Beast to be specific. Aunt Beast willingly accepts its title, knowing the limits of the English language.

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