The Happy Medium
They continue to watch the crystal ball. They see that where the light touches the darkness, the darkness vanishes. They watch as a star gives up its life in the battle against darkness. Mrs. Whatsit confesses that she was once a star, and had done the same thing.
Before they leave the Happy Medium, she shows the children, through her crystal ball, their mothers. First is Calvin's mother, an unkempt woman in a dirty kitchen who is whacking one of her children with a wooden spoon. Then they see Mrs. Murry, sitting on a high stool in her lab writing on a sheet of paper. Meg knows that her mother is writing to her husband. Meg is filled with a desire to do something to find her father.
They leave the Happy Medium and tesser to Camazotz, which is one of the dark planets. They stand on a hill, and everything appears very much like earth. Down the hill, there is a town. Mrs. Whatsit says that she must leave the three children on their own. She confirms that Meg's father is on Camazotz. Mrs. Whatsit gives each of them some help. She strengthens Charles Wallace's ability to communicate with all kinds of people. She gives Meg her faults, even though Meg protests that she always trying to get rid of them. For Calvin, Mrs. Who gives him a hint by quoting a passage from Shakespeare's The Tempest, about an imprisoned spirit. Mrs. Who gives Meg her glasses, telling her to use them only as a last resort. Mrs. Which then tells them to go down to the town, and not to allow themselves to be separated. Mrs. Whatsit tells Charles Wallace that he is in even more danger than the others, and he must beware of pride and arrogance.
Calvin, Meg and Charles Wallace go down to the town. They notice that all the houses look alike. Children are playing but they are all skipping rope and bouncing balls in exactly the same rhythm. Everything is identical. Then they see one boy who is not bouncing in rhythm. His mother emerges and looks shocked when she sees her boy. She grabs him and pulls him back into the house. The three children decide to investigate. They knock on the door of the house, wanting to return the ball. The woman denies that her boy dropped a ball, because all the children in their section are perfectly trained.
The children wonder why everyone seems so afraid. They move on beyond the houses to some apartment buildings. A boy delivering newspapers asks them what they are doing on the street. He talks about entrance papers and examiners and the Central Intelligence Center, which he says is located in the city. He boasts about how perfect the city is. He also says the city is home to IT, but does not explain what IT is.
The children continue to walk through the city. The people they observe seem peculiar, as if they are moving automatically.
In a section of office buildings, the children see the largest building they have ever seen. They realize it must be the Central Intelligence Center. They discuss what to do. Calvin says that if they go into the building they will be in terrible danger.
This chapter shows up close the kind of evil that has to be constantly fought. It is not the usual concept of evil. No one on Camazotz is being literally killed or tortured or imprisoned. The people claim to be happy, and the town the children find themselves in is very orderly. The great evil that must be fought is identified with conformity, lack of individuality, excessive bureaucracy, and central control. Since these qualities are common to communist societies, it is clear that there is a political dimension to the story, even though the evil is usually discussed as if it were a metaphysical principle, the dark element in dualistic Christian cosmology. It should be remembered that A Wrinkle in Time was first published in 1962, when the cold war between the West and the Soviet Union was at its height. The West embraced individualism and freedom, whereas the Soviet Union and its allies favored a society in which a central government planned and controlled all aspects of people's lives. Camazotz, to put it bluntly, is a planet on which the communists have won.