Study Guide

A Wrinkle in Time Chapter 6

By Madeleine L'Engle

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Chapter 6

The Happy Medium

  • On the Happy Medium's Crystal-Ball-o-Matic, the kids watch as a great burst of light knocks out part of the Black Thing.
  • Mrs. Whatsit explains: a star has given its life in battle with the Black Thing.
  • It comes out that Mrs. Whatsit used to be a star herself, but sacrificed herself in battle.
  • Meg realizes that Mrs. Whatsit's human form is only a small part of her total being, that there's more to her than Meg had ever guessed, or that her puny human understanding ever could know.
  • The Happy Medium is falling asleep, so the group tries to sneak out without disturbing her, but she wakes up and offers them some food.
  • Meg realizes that she's hungry, but Mrs. Whatsit turns down the offer. Charles Wallace whispers to Meg that he'll be sure to remind the Mrs. Ws that a person's got to eat.
  • The Medium wants to do something nice for the children after all the sad stuff she's shown them, so she offers to show them their mothers.
  • Mrs. Which thinks it's a mistake, but Mrs. Whatsit thinks it's OK and tells the Medium to go ahead.
  • They look at Calvin's mom first, who it turns out is a toothless, child-beating meanie.
  • Meg wordlessly takes Calvin's hand, marveling that she, class freak, is in the position of comforting one of the school's popular guys.
  • Next they flip to the Murrys' mom, who is writing something that Meg thinks is her nightly letter to their missing father.
  • Mrs. Murry puts her head down on her desk, succumbing to the unhappiness she never shows her kids.
  • Meg blazes out in anger that her mom has been hurt by this Black Thing, and tells the group to get a move on already.
  • The kids kiss the Happy Medium goodbye, and Mrs. Whatsit tells her that they're going to a place called Camazotz.
  • The Happy Medium falls asleep, and the group tessers through the Black Thing to Camazotz, landing on a hill outside a city in what feels like autumn.
  • Mrs. Whatsit tells the kids that she and the other two stars (the Mrs. Ws) can't come with them, but that they will be nearby.
  • Mrs. Whatsit tells Meg that her father is in Camazotz, but that she can't give Meg any more information than that – the kids will have to figure it out for themselves.
  • Charles Wallace asks why Mrs. Whatsit is afraid for them now when she wasn't afraid to sacrifice herself when she was a star. Mrs. Whatsit tells Charles Wallace that she was afraid.
  • Mrs. Whatsit channels the Wizard of Oz and gives each of the kids "a little talisman" (6.82): Meg gets her faults, saying that they'll be useful on Camazotz; Charles Wallace gets his childhood ability to bounce back; and Calvin gets a power boost on his natural gift of communication.
  • Mrs. Who gives Calvin a hint: it's a quotation from Shakespeare's The Tempest. She also quotes Goethe to remind know-it-all Charles Wallace that he does not, in fact, know everything. Then Mrs. Who leaves her glasses with Meg, telling her not to use them until she has to.
  • Mrs. Which gives them their marching orders: go into the town, stick together, and stay strong.
  • Mrs. Whatsit tells Charles Wallace to take care of Meg, and he gets a little annoyed that Mrs. Whatsit thinks she has to tell him that.
  • Mrs. Whatsit tells Charles Wallace that he's in the most danger because of what he is, and that he better be careful about letting his pride and arrogance carry him away.
  • Mrs. Whatsit disappears (the other stars have already faded away), and the kids set off down the hill to the town.
  • The town itself is like a poorly-designed Sims game: every house is exactly the same, down to the number of flowers in the front yard.
  • Each house has children playing in front of it, but their ball-bouncing and jump-roping are all to the same exact rhythm.
  • At the same exact moment, a similarly-dressed mother comes to the front door of each house and claps, and the children all go inside.
  • One kid missed the memo, however, and is still outside playing with his ball, with no rhythm at all.
  • His mother runs out, sees that her kid is the only one left outside, freaks out, and pulls him indoors, causing him to drop his ball.
  • Charles Wallace picks up the ball, which looks perfectly normal.
  • They go ring the doorbell to see if they can get any useful information, but the mother flatly refuses to admit that her child would do anything so nonconformist as drop his ball. She says she doesn't have to let them in if they don't have any papers.
  • Charles Wallace holds out the ball so the boy can see it, and the kid grabs it from him. The mother slams the door.
  • Charles Wallace wonders what the mother and boy so afraid of.
  • They keep walking, and the identical suburban houses give way to identical urban apartment buildings.
  • They see a teenage boy on a powered bicycle delivering newspapers with astonishing accuracy: each one lands in exactly the same place in the target doorway.
  • The delivery boy stops and asks them what they're doing there, but assumes they must be officially sanctioned if they're there at all.
  • The boy also assumes that they're examiners, and praises the city as having the best everything on the planet, including CENTRAL Central Intelligence (whatever that is) where IT lives (whatever that is) by quoting from the Manual (whatever that is).
  • They keep walking and come across more people, all walking like robots and paying no attention to the newcomers.
  • They see a large building, and Charles says it must be the CENTRAL Central Intelligence building, and that they should go in.
  • Meg objects, but gives in to Charles Wallace's insistence.
  • Calvin says that judging from what the woman told them, they should have papers.
  • Charles Wallace says that if that were so, Mrs. Whatsit would have told them.
  • Calvin replies that a star might not understand human ways. He points out Mrs. Whatsit's interesting fashion choices as evidence. And the people on Camazotz, however strange, do seem to be people.
  • Charles Wallace uses his spider sense to feel out the population around them and says that the people are definitely not robots, but all he can sense is a kind of pulsing.
  • The crowd of people going into the CCI building thins suddenly.
  • Charles Wallace is worried he won't recognize their father if they do find him, but Meg reassures him he will.
  • Calvin says he has a bad feeling about this, that going into the CCI building will bring them into terrible danger.

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