A Wrinkle in Time
by Madeleine L'Engle
A Wrinkle in Time Language and Communication Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
[Charles Wallace] "School awful again today?" he asked after a while.
[Meg] "Yes. I got sent to Mr. Jenkins. He made snide remarks about Father."
Charles Wallace nodded sagely. "I know."
"How do you know?"
Charles Wallace shook his head. "I can't quite explain. You tell me, that's all."
"But I never say anything. You just seem to know."
"Everything about you tells me," Charles said. [...]
"You mean you read our minds?"
Charles Wallace looked troubled. "I don't think it's that. It's being able to understand a sort of language, like sometimes if I concentrate very hard I can understand the wind talking with the trees. You tell me, you see, sort of inad— inadvertently. That's a good word, isn't it? I got Mother to look it up in the dictionary for me this morning." (2.71-81)
For Charles Wallace, language is more than words, and people can communicate without consciously intending to do so. It's almost like Charles Wallace has a sixth sense – which on the one hand is comforting to Meg, because he understands what's wrong with her, but on the other hand is a little creepy – what if she wants to keep her troubles to herself?
"Mrs. Who, I wish you'd stop quoting!" Charles Wallace sounded very annoyed.
Mrs. Whatsit adjusted her stole. "But she finds it so difficult to verbalize, Charles dear. It helps her if she can quote instead of working out words of her own." (4.28-29)
Language here is something to borrow. It's as if once something has been verbalized, it's out there ready for anyone to use. How does Mrs. Who's quoting of others compare to IT's speaking its words through other people?
"She keeps thinking she can explain things in words," Mrs. Who said. "Qui plus salt, plus se tait. French, you know. The more a man knows, the less he talks."
"But she has to use words for Meg and Calvin," Charles reminded Mrs. Who. "If you brought them along, they have a right to know what's going on." (4.47-48)
This suggests a paradox: the only things worth knowing are the ones that can't be put into words, but those are also the only things worth trying to explain.