A Wrinkle in Time
by Madeleine L'Engle
A Wrinkle in Time Wisdom and Knowledge Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
"Who have our fighters been?" Calvin asked.
"Oh, you must know them, dear," Mrs. Whatsit said.
Mrs. Who's spectacles shone out at them triumphantly, "And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not."
"Jesus!" Charles Wallace said. "Why of course, Jesus!"
"Of course!" Mrs. Whatsit said. "Go on, Charles, love. There were others. All your great artists. They've been lights for us to see by."
"Leonardo da Vinci?" Calvin suggested tentatively. "And Michelangelo?"
"And Shakespeare," Charles Wallace called out, "and Bach! And Pasteur and Madame Curie and Einstein!"
Now Calvin's voice rang with confidence. "And Schweitzer and Gandhi and Buddha and Beethoven and Rembrandt and St. Francis!"
"Now you, Meg," Mrs. Whatsit ordered.
"Oh, Euclid, I suppose." Meg was in such an agony of impatience that her voice grated irritably. "And Copernicus." (5.114-123)
This presents a small-c catholic view of wisdom – the list of those fighting against the darkness includes not only philosophers and scientists, but also artists and human rights activists. This passage suggests that writing a symphony or sonnet can bring as much good to humanity as a scientific or mathematical discovery.
"If we needed passports or papers Mrs. Whatsit would have told us so," Charles Wallace said.
Calvin put his hands on his hips and looked down at Charles Wallace. "Now look here, old sport. I love those three old girls just as much as you do, but I'm not sure they know everything."
"They know a lot more than we do."
"Granted. But you know Mrs. Whatsit talked about having been a star. I wouldn't think that being a star would give her much practice in knowing about people. When she tried to be a person she came pretty close to goofing it up. There was never anybody on land or sea like Mrs. Whatsit the way she got herself up."
"She was just having fun," Charles said. "If she'd wanted to look like you or Meg I'm sure she could have."
Calvin shook his head. "I'm not so sure. And these people seem to be people, if you know what I mean. They aren't like us, I grant you that, there's something very off-beat about them. But they're lots more like ordinary people than the ones on Uriel." (6.154-159)
The novel frequently reminds us of the limitations of human knowledge, and especially of Meg's knowledge, but this suggests that "higher" beings have different knowledge, rather than simply more knowledge, and that humans know a thing or two about a thing or two that a star just wouldn't think of.
"We hold these truths to be self-evident!" she shouted, "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
As she cried out the words she felt a mind moving in on her own, felt IT seizing, squeezing her brain. Then she' realized that Charles Wallace was speaking, or being spoken through by IT.
"But that's exactly what we have on Camazotz. Complete equality. Everybody exactly alike."
For a moment her brain reeled with confusion. Then came a moment of blazing truth. "No!" she cried triumphantly. "Like and equal are not the same thing at all!"
"Good girl, Meg!" her father shouted at her.
But Charles Wallace continued as though there had been no interruption. "In Camazotz all are equal. In Camazotz everybody is the same as everybody else," but he gave her no argument, provided no answer, and she held on to her moment of revelation.
Like and equal are two entirely different things.
For the moment she had escaped from the power of IT. (9.137-144)
Why does this particular revelation get Meg out of IT's power? Is it just because she has an independent thought, and holds on to it even though IT opposes her? Or is the content of the thought also a factor? Why would being able to tell the difference between "like" and "equal" be especially threatening to IT?