IT 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.

Madeleine L'Engle's sci-fi/fantasy book 'A Wrinkle in Time' includes vivid examples of both goodness and evil. One of the most frightening examples of evil is a character called IT. This lesson will focus on the role of IT in the story.

Groupthink

There is something frightening about mind control, and the entertainment industry capitalizes on this fear. The Borg in Star Trek, The Matrix, The Hunger Games, The Giver, The Divergent Trilogy, and The Stepford Wives all feature the loss of individuality and freedom. I bet you could come up with your own list of examples.

A disturbing form of mind control shows up in A Wrinkle in Time, and the power behind it is known as IT.

What is IT?

Physically, IT is nothing more than a brain minus a body, but ITs power is hard to resist.

In Chapter 9, Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin get to meet IT in person. They have traveled to the planet Camazotz to rescue Mr. Murry, Meg's and Charles Wallace's father. Their journey brings them face-to-'face' with IT: 'A living brain. A brain that pulsed and quivered, that seized and commanded . . . IT was the most horrible, the most repellent thing she (Meg) had ever seen....'

brain

IT speaks, not through a mouth, but through pulsing vibrations of thought. The rhythm has a hypnotic effect on people, and once IT gets a person's attention, ITs reasoning begins:

'For why should you wish to fight someone who is here only to save you pain and trouble? ... I, in my own strength, am willing to assume all the pain, all the responsibility, all the burdens of thought and decision.'

'I am peace and utter rest.... To come in to me is the last difficult decision you need ever make.'

'. . .That's exactly what we have on Camazotz. Complete equality. Everybody exactly alike.'

IT is a powerfully evil force. People lose their own creativity and goodness when they give over control to IT.

Full of IT

On the planet Camazotz, IT is the one who decides where you live, where you work, and how you behave. You become part of a collective consciousness, and any deviation from your prescribed role leads to harsh punishment.

Under IT's spell, people resemble robots both in what they say and in what they do. When Charles Wallace first observes the people of Camazotz, he wonders whether they are humans or robots. As it turns out, the inhabitants of this planet are human, but they are definitely not individuals.

Their houses are identical, right down to the flowers lining the front walkway. They move and speak as if they are following an internal rhythm. The children even bounce balls and skip rope in unison. When their mothers call them home (at the same time every day), they abruptly put away their toys and go home.

Mr. Murry has resisted the rhythm and reasoning of IT for a long time; for this reason he has been imprisoned for an equally long time. Those who live on Camazotz must submit to IT unless they want to be imprisoned and/or tortured.

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