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A Wrinkle in Time

A Wrinkle in Time

by Madeleine L'Engle

Language and Communication Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #7

Charles Wallace stared after him. "What is it?" he asked Meg and Charles. "There was something funny about the way he talked, as though—well, as though he weren't really doing the talking. Know what I mean?" (6.140)

Camazotz links speech with identity – the people on that planet don't have independent selves, so they don't have independent speech. One wonders whether IT controls all of them directly, or whether they're like robots, trotting out their limited speech patterns in response to stimuli.

Quote #8

"And by the way, my children," he continued blandly, "you don't need to vocalize verbally with me, you know. I can understand you quite as well as you can understand me.

Charles Wallace put his hands on his hips defiantly. "The spoken word is one of the triumphs of man," he proclaimed, "and I intend to continue using it, particularly with people I don't trust." (7.91-92)

As with Charles Wallace's reading of Meg's mind earlier, communication that bypasses the spoken word raises issues of privacy and independence. Charles Wallace's insistence on speaking out loud even though he doesn't have to is an assertion of his independence from the man with the red eyes.

Quote #9

"Well, we can't see without it," Meg said, realizing that she was completely unable to explain vision and light and dark. How can you explain sight on a world where no one has ever seen and where there is no need of eyes? "Well, on this planet," she fumbled, "you have a sun, don't you?"

"A most wonderful sun, from which comes our warmth, and the rays which give us our flowers, our food, our music, and all the things which make life and growth."

"Well," Meg said, "when we are turned toward the sun—our earth, our planet, I mean, toward our sun—we receive its light. And when we're turned away from it, it is night. And if we want to see we have to use artificial lights."

"Artificial lights," the beast sighed. "How very complicated life on your planet must be. Later on you must try to explain some more to me." (11.53-56)

Meg's experience trying to explain light to Aunt Beast suggests that language is founded on shared knowledge – if someone literally doesn't see the world the same way as you, it's very difficult to find the words that will make them understand your meaning.

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