A Wrinkle In Time: Novel Summary: Chapter 2
Meg awakes in the morning, and thinks the previous night must have been a dream. In the kitchen over breakfast, her mother tells her it was not a dream. She knows what a tesseract is, but there is no time to explain it to Meg before Meg goes to school.
That day at school, Meg performs poorly, and is sent to the principal, Mr. Jenkins. The principal tells her she has the wrong attitude and needs to learn to apply herself. He asks whether Meg has had any news of her father. Meg is unwilling to give him any information. It turns out that her father is a physicist, and it is almost a year since they had a letter from him. Mr. Jenkins tells her she should face facts. He assumes that her father will never return.
After school, Charles Wallace takes Meg to see Mrs. Whatsit. On the way, they meet a boy named Calvin O'Keefe, who is two years older than Meg. When they question him, Calvin says he comes to the woods to get away from his family. As the children talk, Calvin discovers that Charles Wallace is not the dumb moron others had led him to expect. It also transpires that Calvin is on his way to the haunted house. He just had a feeling that he ought to go there.
The three of them go into the old house, where they meet Mrs. Who, one of Mrs. Whatsit's two friends. She is sewing a sheet, and Charles rebukes her for having taken it from Mrs. Buncombe. Mrs. Who tells them that Meg's father needs their help, but the time for it is not yet ripe. As they leave the house, Meg tells Charles Wallace that she does not understand. He promises to explain after they have all had something to eat.
Developing the theme of nonverbal communication hinted at in chapter 1, Charles tries to explain how he seems to be able to read people's minds. He says it is a "sort of language, like sometimes if I concentrate very hard I can understand the wind talking with the trees." Charles is the character who early on in the story prepares the reader for the unusual world that the children are shortly to experience. He is the link between the ordinary and the extraordinary.
Calvin is the opposite of Meg. He is successful and popular in school, and intelligent in a more conventional way than Charles Wallace. However, the fact that Calvin acts on his intuition rather than his rational intelligence in deciding to go to the haunted house is an illustration of what the novel abundantly shows: there are many kinds of intelligence, not only the type that is approved in schools, and which Meg is so conscious of lacking (see for example her boredom with what she is expected to learn in her social studies class). The relationship between Meg and Calvin also provides some gentle romantic interest for the story, although this is never allowed to take center stage.
The three ladies are carefully distinguished from each other. Mrs. Whatsit is friendly and eccentric. Mrs. Which, although she is also friendly, is more learned and philosophical. She is always quoting the observations of great writers.