A Wrinkle in Time

AUTHOR: Madeleine L'Engle


A Wrinkle in Time: Summary, Plot, Characters, Literary Analysis & More

“A Wrinkle in Time” is a science fiction novel by Madeleine L’Engle, first published in 1962.

The novel stands as one of L’Engle’s most celebrated achievements, captivating both critical acclaim and a wide readership.

“A Wrinkle in Time” follows the journey of Meg Murry, her younger brother Charles Wallace, and their friend Calvin O’Keefe as they traverse time and space to save Charles Wallace from an insidious evil force.

The story delves into themes of bravery, personal insecurities, and the battle between light and darkness, all set against a backdrop of astonishing worlds and mysterious creatures.

Read on for a comprehensive “A Wrinkle in Time” summary, including the plot, key themes, genres, and literary devices.

'A Wrinkle in Time' weaves science, family, and courage into an enchanting literary tapestry.

The Plot

In “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeleine L’Engle, the plot unfolds with a captivating urgency.

Meg Murry, aided by her friend Calvin O’Keefe, embarks on a perilous journey to rescue her younger brother Charles Wallace.

Aided by Charles Wallace’s extraordinary abilities, they traverse through time and space, confronting dark forces and traversing unfamiliar worlds. Charles Wallace takes Meg under his guidance, leading her through the intricate folds of the universe.

Their courageous pursuit focuses on freeing Charles Wallace from the clutches of an ominous evil, resulting in a thrilling interplay of determination and love.


Join us as we delve into the depths of these characters, both protagonists and antagonists, who navigate the complexities of love, courage, and the eternal battle between light and darkness.

Meg Murry

The protagonist of “A Wrinkle in Time” is a young girl who embarks on a cosmic adventure to rescue her younger brother, Charles Wallace.

Battling personal insecurities, Meg’s bravery and love for her family shine as she journeys through time and space.

Younger Brother Charles Wallace

Meg’s younger brother, Charles Wallace, possesses an extraordinary intellect and insight.

He takes a pivotal role in the story, leading Meg and others through the intricacies of the universe as they strive to save him from an evil force’s grasp.

Calvin O’Keefe

Calvin O’Keefe, Meg’s friend, joins the quest with his own unique gifts.

His friendship and connection with Meg deepen, offering unwavering support as they navigate the challenges of their interdimensional journey.

Mrs. Murry

Mrs. Murry, Meg and Charles Wallace’s mother, is a gifted scientist who plays a vital role in the story. Her intellect and love for her family drive the narrative as she collaborates to save her missing husband.

Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which

These enigmatic and powerful celestial beings guide Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin on their journey.

They offer wisdom, magical assistance, and encouragement, helping the children confront the great evil that threatens the universe.


The malevolent force known as IT is the antagonist of the story.

It controls Charles Wallace and seeks to envelop the universe in darkness. The battle against IT forms the core of the characters’ struggle for freedom and light.

Key Themes

“A Wrinkle in Time” delves into themes of courage, love, and the battle between good and evil. Meg’s quest to free Charles Wallace showcases her inner strength and determination, while her realization of her own worth underscores the theme of self-discovery.

The concept of home and belonging is symbolized by the Murry house, and the friendships formed with characters like Calvin O’Keefe emphasize the importance of companionship in overcoming challenges.

The Theme of Courage

Throughout the novel, characters are repeatedly called upon to display courage in the face of daunting challenges.

Meg Murry, the protagonist, is an ordinary girl who embarks on a perilous journey through time and space to rescue her father from the clutches of darkness.

She must confront her own insecurities and self-doubt while facing malevolent forces. Meg’s courage is not defined by physical strength but by her determination and willingness to take risks for the sake of her family and the greater good.

This theme encourages readers to find courage within themselves, even when faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

The Theme of Love

Love is a powerful force in “A Wrinkle in Time.”

The bond between Meg and her family, particularly her love for her younger brother Charles Wallace, serves as a driving force throughout the story.

It is their love for one another that motivates them to undertake the dangerous quest.

Additionally, the concept of unconditional love and the idea that love can conquer darkness and evil is a central theme.

This is evident in the character of Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which, who guide and support Meg on her journey.

Love is portrayed as a force that transcends time and space, uniting individuals and providing strength in the face of adversity.

The Battle Between Good and Evil

The “Dark Thing” represents the embodiment of evil, and the characters must confront it in their quest to save Meg’s father and restore balance to the universe.

The novel explores the idea that evil can manifest in many forms, from conformity and authoritarianism to the suppression of individuality and free will.

It emphasizes the importance of resisting these negative forces and standing up for what is right.

The characters’ journey reflects the age-old struggle between light and darkness, with the message that goodness and love can ultimately prevail.

Genres in A Wrinkle in Time

This novel is a blend of science fiction, fantasy, and adventure genres. The narrative effortlessly intertwines scientific concepts with fantastical elements, such as time travel and cosmic beings.

This fusion creates a unique backdrop for the characters’ journey, contributing to the story’s intrigue and engagement.

The adventure genre propels the characters through perilous situations, while the fantasy and science fiction elements transport readers to uncharted realms.


Language used in A Wrinkle in Time

Madeleine L’Engle’s language in “A Wrinkle in Time” is a masterful blend of evocative descriptions and relatable dialogue.

As Charles leads Meg through unknown dimensions and Meg realizes her own potential, L’Engle’s prose conjures vivid imagery that immerses readers in the story’s emotional landscape.

The Murry house and meetings with Calvin O’Keefe are depicted with rich detail, creating an atmosphere that resonates with both the familiar and the extraordinary.

Science Fiction

The concept of time travel is central to “A Journey Through Time,” making it a quintessential example of science fiction.

The book introduces the idea that time is not a linear progression but rather a complex web that characters can navigate, which aligns with the speculative nature of science fiction.

The characters in “Dark” use the book’s information to unlock the secrets of time travel and its effects, merging science and speculation in a thought-provoking manner.


While “A Journey Through Time” explores scientific concepts like time travel, it also possesses fantasy elements due to the mystical and otherworldly nature of its contents.

The book’s mythology, symbols, and ancient prophecies contribute to a fantastical ambiance.

The intertwining of science fiction and fantasy elements adds depth to the story’s exploration of time manipulation and its consequences.


The book propels characters on an adventurous quest to understand and control the intricacies of time travel.

It guides characters to uncover hidden truths, solve mysteries, and ultimately change the course of events.

The adventurous pursuit of knowledge and the risks characters take to alter their fates align with the adventure genre’s emphasis on exploration, challenges, and personal growth.

Literary devices in A Wrinkle in Time

In “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeleine L’Engle, the narrative is enriched by a tapestry of literary devices that enhance its depth and impact.

As characters like Meg meet Calvin O’Keefe, L’Engle employs symbolism to convey deeper meanings.

The characterization of Calvin, combined with elements like time travel and cosmic beings, reflects allegorical undertones.

L’Engle’s adept use of dialogue and descriptive language further immerses readers into the story’s fantastical world, adding layers of intrigue and emotion to this captivating science fiction tale.


Madeleine L’Engle paints a scene with a “dark and stormy evening,” infusing it with an atmosphere of foreboding.

The description of Aunt Beast, with her nurturing presence, is likened to a maternal embrace, deepening readers’ empathy. L’Engle also compares the gray planet to a desolate canvas, intensifying the sense of isolation.

These similes heighten the reader’s engagement by appealing to their senses and emotions, fostering a profound connection to the story’s world.


The search for Meg’s missing father can be seen as a metaphor for the journey to self-discovery.

The diverse celestial beings, including the enigmatic Aunt Beast, serve as metaphors for the complexities of human emotions and relationships.

The twin brothers’ vegetable garden serves as a metaphor for growth and interconnectedness.

These metaphors imbue the narrative with deeper significance, allowing readers to explore universal themes and emotions beyond the surface of the story.


The concept of tessering, represented by Meg’s journey to planet Ixchel, functions as an analogy for navigating the complexities of life’s challenges.

The Murry tessers can be likened to metaphorical doors of change, encouraging readers to see unfamiliar experiences as opportunities for growth and understanding.


From the stormy night that envelops Meg’s school to the atmospheric descriptions of Mrs. Who’s quotations, vivid imagery creates sensory experiences that immerse readers in the story’s unfolding.

The portrayal of the Murry house, the three Mrs., and the dark shadow all contribute to an immersive atmosphere, while the furry beasts on the dark planet evoke both curiosity and apprehension.


The three celestial friends, Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which, symbolize the guiding forces of wisdom, love, and courage.

Hoping to find Mr. Murry, the Murry family’s quest serves as a symbol of unyielding familial love and unity against adversity.

Murry’s house represents both the anchor of safety and the springboard into unknown dimensions, reflecting the dichotomy of comfort and curiosity that shapes the characters’ journey.


The “giant disembodied brain” symbolizing IT is a chilling personification of oppressive control, while the “great evil called” echoes the sense of an imminent, malevolent presence.

The “haunted house” symbolizes the weight of the Murry family’s missing father and serves as a metaphor for their yearning and longing, making the setting a living entity reflecting their emotions.


When Mrs. Whatsit reads Meg’s thoughts, it magnifies the supernatural nature of the characters. The description of a “popular boy” transforms into an exaggerated embodiment of the high school hierarchy.

The “giant disembodied brain” becomes a hyperbolic manifestation of the story’s antagonist. These hyperboles create a sense of wonder and heighten the otherworldly atmosphere, anchoring readers in a universe where possibilities are limitless.


The ironic presence of a “foggy planet” as a juxtaposition against Meg’s hometown creates an unexpected contrast, symbolizing the murkiness of her personal struggles.

The notion of an “elementary school” underpins the irony of children embarking on an interdimensional quest.

The “happy medium” serves as an ironic commentary on the complexities of life, while Charles’s deliberations and the connection between Meg and Charles Wallace embody situational and dramatic irony.


Meg and Calvin have blossoming relationship and that relationship is marked by their deep connection as kindred spirits, stands in contrast to the challenges they face on their cosmic journey.

The giant cloud, a symbol of the unfamiliar, is juxtaposed against Meg’s introspective thoughts and Charles’s contemplations, inviting readers to contemplate the intersection of the ordinary and the extraordinary.

These juxtapositions magnify the intricacies of the characters’ experiences, creating a rich tapestry of emotions and insights.


While “A Wrinkle in Time” is rich in imaginative elements, puns are not overtly prevalent.

However, the playful interaction between Meg’s return to the “whole planet” and the unexpected encounters with peculiar beings, like the “robot-like creature,” subtly adds a layer of humor and intrigue.

These puns contribute to the whimsical tone of the narrative, occasionally offering double meanings that enhance the readers’ engagement and enjoyment.


L’Engle strategically employs repetition in “A Wrinkle in Time” to underscore pivotal moments. As Meg realizes her potential, the repetition of her inner struggles reflects her emotional journey.

The persistent motif of hoping to find Mr. Murry accentuates the Murry family’s unwavering determination. This repetition amplifies the themes of resilience and familial bond, heightening emotional resonance.

The Use of Dialogue

Dialogue in the novel becomes a mirror of characters’ traits and narrative tension. Meg’s conversations with Charles Wallace reveal his extraordinary intellect.

The exchanges between Meg and Calvin expose their evolving relationship.

The encounters with the haunted house and the happy medium unfold through dialogue, enhancing the story’s atmosphere and forwarding its themes.

Rhetorical Devices

In the novel rhetorical devices effectively shape the narrative’s persuasive impact. The phrase “whom Charles considers a kindred spirit” employs parallelism, subtly reinforcing the deep connection between characters.

Rhetorical questions also play a role in building tension and engagement, urging readers to ponder the characters’ motivations and the unfolding plot.

These devices contribute to the story’s persuasive power, compelling readers to invest emotionally and intellectually in the characters’ journeys and the overarching themes.

A Wrinkle in Time: FAQs

This section offers concise answers to common questions about the novel’s plot, characters, themes, and author, providing readers with insightful clarifications and deeper understanding.

What is the main Message of “A Wrinkle in Time”?

The main message of the book is the power of love, the importance of individuality, and the timeless struggle between good and evil. It encourages readers to embrace their uniqueness and to believe in the strength of love and family bonds.

What is the “Dark Thing” in “A Wrinkle in Time”?

The “Dark Thing” represents a mysterious and malevolent force in the universe, symbolizing evil and the challenges the characters must confront.

What Grade Level for “A Wrinkle in Time”?

“A Wrinkle in Time” is typically recommended for upper elementary grades (4th-6th grade) and middle school (7th-8th grade) readers. However, it can be enjoyed by readers of all ages, and it often finds a place in high school literature curricula.

Is “A Wrinkle in Time” about autism?

No, “A Wrinkle in Time” is not primarily about autism. While one of the characters, Charles Wallace, exhibits unique qualities and high intelligence, the book is not explicitly about autism. Instead, it explores themes of individuality, love, and the battle between good and evil. Charles Wallace’s character is depicted as exceptionally gifted rather than specifically autistic.

Summing up: A Wrinkle in Time: Summary, Plot & More

As you can see from this “A Wrinkle in Time” summary, this work resonates as a captivating fusion of science fiction and fantasy, where a spellbinding plot summary leads readers through time and space.

Through its intricate web of characters, themes, and literary devices, the story unfolds with emotional depth and thought-provoking resonance. L’Engle’s masterful storytelling envelops readers in a world where cosmic quests mirror inner journeys, inviting them to explore courage, love, and the battle between light and darkness.

With its enduring appeal to both young and mature audiences, “A Wrinkle in Time” stands as a testament to the timeless power of imagination and the human spirit.

Other Notable Works by Madeleine L’Engle

If you are interested in “A Wrinkle in Time”, you may be interested in other works by Madeleine L’Engle including:

  • A Wind in the Door“: Embark on another enthralling journey with Meg Murry as she delves into the mysteries of the universe once again, exploring the delicate balance between life and the forces that shape it
  • A Swiftly Tilting Planet“: Join Charles Wallace and Meg on an extraordinary adventure that spans time, where they must work together to prevent an impending catastrophe that threatens to alter the course of history.
  • Many Waters“: Discover a unique twist as the Murry twins, Sandy and Dennys, accidentally find themselves transported to a pre-flood world, encountering mythical creatures and navigating the complexities of love and sacrifice.
  • An Acceptable Time“: Venture into the world of Polly O’Keefe, Meg and Calvin’s daughter, as she unravels the mysteries of time travel, confronting the ethical dilemmas that arise when tampering with history.
  • The Austin Family Chronicles” series: Immerse yourself in the heartwarming tales of the Austin family, including titles like “Meet the Austins,” “The Moon by Night,” and “The Young Unicorns,” where themes of family, friendship, and personal growth are beautifully explored.

These works, like “A Wrinkle in Time,” showcase Madeleine L’Engle’s prowess in crafting captivating narratives that blend science fiction, fantasy, and profound human emotions, inviting readers of all ages to embark on extraordinary journeys of imagination and introspection.

This work showcases Madeleine L'Engle's prowess in crafting captivating narratives that blend science fiction, fantasy, and profound human emotions.