Study Guide

A Wrinkle in Time Chapter 4

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Chapter 4

The Black Thing

  • Something weird happens: Meg feels the world around her being extinguished like a television screen being turned off, and suddenly she's alone in nothingness, unable to move or speak.
  • The sense of Meg's body being present begins to return to her, but she's still trapped in nothingness.
  • She hears Charles Wallace's voice and soon sees him, but he doesn't see her, and she still can't move or speak.
  • Calvin turns up too, pushing his way into reality like pushing through a curtain, but he can't see Meg either.
  • Meg feels like someone shoves her, and she breaks forth into this new reality.
  • She looks around a sees a field on a beautiful spring day, even though it's autumn at home.
  • Mrs. Whatsit and Mrs. Who join them, caught up in a fit of giggles. The reason for their laughter becomes clear when Mrs. Which shimmers into existence – she's wearing a stereotypical Halloween witch costume (with body to match).
  • Charles Wallace is less amused, on Meg's behalf, and tries to get them to explain to Meg what's going on (it seems he already knows something about it).
  • Mrs. Whatsit tells them that they're on a different planet and that they got there by tessering.
  • Calvin says that that's impossible, but Meg trusts Mrs. Which.
  • Mrs. Which tells Mrs. Whatsit to explain, since she's younger and therefore better at "thee llanguage of worrds" (4.50).
  • Mrs. Whatsit explains that it is indeed something to do with the Murry children's father, but that he's not the only reason for their journey.
  • Mrs. Which tells Mrs. Whatsit to show them, and says that Mrs. Whatsit should change.
  • Mrs. Whatsit changes – into a winged creature like a centaur only prettier.
  • This new creature, who says they can still call her Mrs. Whatsit, invites Meg, Calvin, and Charles Wallace onto its back.
  • Together they take a scenic flight over the planet's gorgeous landscapes.
  • At one point they hear singing, and with much effort Charles Wallace and Mrs. Whatsit manage to translate the words for Calvin and Meg: it sounds like a hymn, and gives them both a feeling of intense joy.
  • They pause to pick some flowers and then fly upwards into the mountains.
  • The reason for the flowers soon becomes clear: they're so high up that the atmosphere is too thin to breath, and the flowers are the organic equivalent of oxygen masks.
  • They park at the top of the mountain and admire the huge, strange moon.
  • Then Mrs. Whatsit turns to face the other direction (taking the children, still on her back, with her), as the sun and moon set, bringing the world into darkness.
  • But there's something more than darkness: a shadow on the sky, a Black Thing that makes all three humans deeply uncomfortable.
  • Meg briefly lowers the flower and almost passes out, but fortunately collapses into the flower and revives herself.
  • They fly back to the field where they began and rejoin Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which.
  • Meg asks Mrs. Which if the Black Thing is what her father is fighting.

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