Thursday, August 5, 2010

Wrinkle In Time

One of the best known books for children or young adults is A Wrinkle In Time by Madeline L’Engle. What is not as well known, is it’s part of a trilogy.  The other two books are A Swiftly Tilting Planet, and A Wind In The Door. 
These books inhabit the borderline between SF and Fantasy in my opinion.  There is speculative science here, often involving tesseracts, but fantasy too.  Witches and Unicorns in particular. 
But, these books are a great example of a misfit family once again. Although the children are the most misfit, the parents, especially the mother, are former misfits.  Maybe even currently since they do not really fit into their rural, backwards community. 
Once again we have the theme of misfits becoming heroes.  But there is a lot more going on here, especially as regards the battle between good and evil.  L’Engle is a great writer of children’s books in my, and many others, opinion, and she surpasses herself in these books. 
For even though many consider the books, especially the first, books for girls, I think they are just as good for boys, and for adults. 
Many see the battle in A Wrinkle In Time as one between conformity and freedom.  Or between authorianism (communism in particular) and freedom and democracy.  Also as a parable of the fear of technology and its effects on being human.  Of being controlled by our technology. 
In the more famous book, which was fairly recently made into a TV movie, Meg and Charles Wallace, along with neighbor/boyfriend Calvin must travel to the stars to save Meg and Charles Wallace’s father who is a prisoner of the dark.  An evil force that has taken over many planets in the galaxy and is working its way to control of Earth.  They are aided by the witches- Mrs.. Who, Mrs.. Which, and Mrs... Whatsit.  Along with other creatures. 
This is again a fight between good and evil waged by children.  They young ones are the heroes here which is what makes this book so popular.  The evil is almost faceless.  Just a computer IT that controls a planet.  Makes everyone on it conform rigidly.  Even the children must all bounce their balls at the same time in the same rhythm .
 A Wind In The Door is more about Charles Wallace and his inability to adapt to school, along with his illness which is also a metaphor for the illness in the Galaxy and Earth.  Here Meg Charles Wallace and Clavin are aided by a Cherubim in their fight against the Echtroi. I found this book particularly interesting since I remember my own struggles at school.  It is very hard to fit in when you are smarter than most every body else and not smart enough, at least at first, to keep them from knowing it. 
This ties in so well to my overall theme.  Why does society tolerate this sort of behavior towards its best and brightest children.  If we are going to progress, even survive as a civilized people in a difficult, complex and dangerous world we need to encourage the smart young ones that are here.  They will be the way we survive and prosper.  It has always been this way, and yet the majority still will not accept them, and in fact constantly harasses and persecutes them. 
The third book A Swiftly Tilting Planet, involves the family in yet another end the world crisis, this time a mad nuclear weapons wielding dictator.  And Calvin O'Keefe's mother, not the brightest among us, is one of the keys to the solution. But, as I keep saying.  This blog, at the moment anyway, is about misfits.  Not the specific books, as much as I love them.
I am speaking from a personal point of view.  To one degree or another, I have been through this sort of thing.  (Although I have not saved the galaxy recently) Misfits, the smart, talented, and creative are often subjected, especially while young, to this treatment.  And they react in various ways.  Some get tougher and excel. Some get twisted.  Some give up and learn how to hide, to appear normal, and the world is a lesser place for that.
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