A Wrinkle in Time
by Madeleine L'Engle
A Wrinkle in Time Chapter 7 Summary
The Man with Red Eyes
- Calvin wants to go in first, but Charles Wallace and Meg insist that they follow Mrs. Whatsit's directions and stick together.
- They all hold hands, with Meg in the middle, and enter the building.
- Inside is an entrance hall made of green marble that makes everyone look like they just got off a roller coaster.
- They ask one of the men there how to see whoever's in charge, and he tells them to give their papers to the machine.
- Charles Wallace keeps asking questions, and the man says he's going to report them, since he doesn't want to be reprocessed again, let alone be sent to IT.
- He submits some papers, and suddenly the wall in front of the children disappears and they find themselves in a room of giant 1970s-style computers, complete with blinking lights and punchcards.
- They walk forward through a long, long passageway between the machines.
- When they approach the end of the room, Charles Wallace freaks out, saying that he can feel something trying to get at him.
- Calvin says they should go back, but Charles Wallace says they can't make decisions based on fear.
- At the end of the room they see a platform with a man on it who seems to be the Black Thing personified: Darth Vader without the breathing problem.
- His voice, however, is gentle – until Meg realizes that he speaking directly into their brains without even bothering to move his lips.
- The man seems not to have expected Calvin, so Charles Wallace says Calvin just came along for the ride.
- Meg notices that the man's eyes are reddish, and that there's a light above his head that's pulsing with an even rhythm.
- Charles Wallace shuts his eyes and tells the others to do the same, but the man says that won't save them.
- Charles Wallace uncharacteristically threatens to kick the man if he tries anything.
- The man tells them that they shouldn't bother to fight, because it's so much nicer to give in. He'll make all the decisions for them so that they can be happy and carefree.
- The man says that they should recite the multiplication table together, and starts in, but the kids resist: Charles Wallace recites nursery rhymes, Calvin chimes in with the Gettysburg address, and Meg finally halts the math lesson by screaming out, "Father!"
- The man starts laughing and says that they've passed the first test.
- Meg asks the man to tell them where her father is. The man retorts that that Mr. Murry abandoning his family wasn't a very fatherly thing to do.
- The man says that they needn't bother to talk because he can read their minds perfectly well, but Charles Wallace insists on keeping at least their side of the communications out loud, especially since he doesn't trust the red-eyed man.
- The man asks what reason he's given them to distrust him. Charles Wallace responds simply by hitting him.
- The man's minions come out of the shadows, but Meg and Calvin pull Charles Wallace back before the minions get to him.
- The man asks why Charles Wallace did that, and Charles Wallace says it's because he's not really him: he can tell that something else is speaking through the man.
- The man says that Charles Wallace can find out who he is by looking deep into his eyes, and Charles Wallace does.
- Meg watches as Charles Wallace's pupils disappear and his eyes become completely blue, and he starts to walk towards the man. Meg tackles her little brother, bringing him back to his senses through knocking his head on the marble floor.
- The man is ticked off by this, and Meg responds with the same bad attitude she shows her school principal when he gets on her case.
- Meg complains that if they're going to be tormented, it could at least happen on a full stomach. The red-eyed man says that his planet's synthetic food is nutritionally superior to the food on Earth, though the taste requires mind control to appreciate.
- The man asks if he and Charles should try their little experiment again. Meg offers herself or Calvin in Charles's place, but the man says their puny brains are too simple to take it.
- The minions bring out a turkey dinner, which seems pretty good to Meg and Calvin through Charles Wallace can neither smell nor taste it.
- The man explains the reason for the difference: he can sneak into Meg and Calvin's minds just enough to infuse them with turkey flavor, but he can't get into Charles's mind even that much.
- The man tells Charles Wallace that if he lets the man into his brain, he could get out again if he wanted to (but he won't want to). He continues on to say that if Charles lets him in, he promises to tell him where his father is.
- Charles Wallace tells Meg and Calvin that he has to do it; Meg objects, but Calvin agrees with Charles.
- Charles Wallace looks into the man's eyes; again his own eyes dissolve into a uniform blue, and suddenly he's saying in a flat voice that the turkey dinner is the best thing he's ever eaten and that Meg is being "belligerent and uncooperative" (7.167) for throwing his plate on the floor.
- Meg yells at Calvin that Charles Wallace is gone.
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