IT and Absolute Zero

Check out the trailer for the movie:

Be sure to get your tickets in advance so that we can all see the movie together.  Go to Cinemark website and order tickets for the 2:10 movie at Franklin Park on March 11th.  Don’t forget we will be heading to Monroe Street to have lunch and conversation before we head to the movie.

This weeks chapters are super scary!  We see Charles Wallace taken over by IT and Meg paralyzed from the tesser that her dad is new at trying.


Calvin tries to pull Charles Wallace back from the brink of submitting fully to IT.  To do so, Calvin quotes from Shakespeare’s play The Tempest, a passage the Mrs. Who gave him as her parting gift when she left them on Camazotz. The passage is directly relevant to the situation that the characters are in.  It’s about Ariel refusing to obey the commands of his master, and Calvin hopes that Ariel’s courage will inspire Charles Wallace.

On a broader level, though, the Shakespeare passage almost succeeds in bringing Charles Wallace back fro IT not simply because of its literal content, but because it is a work of art.  L’Engle has repeatedly emphasized that art strikes out against conformity, because in order to create art the artist has to fully embrace his or her individuality.  Art is an enemy to Camazotz because it celebrates individuality and encourages critical thought.

Meg starts reciting the Declaration of Independence in order to fight off IT.  She believes that this document can be an effective weapon against IT because it is the foundational document of a society built on individuality and freedom of expression.  When she says that “all men are created equal.” though, IT tries to manipulate those words by twisting them to support IT’s point of view.

However, when he tells Meg that everyone on Camazotz is equal because they are exactly alike, Meg recognizes that this is nonsense, and she tells him that “like and equal are not the same.”  This is important growth in Meg’s character at the beginning of the book, Meg would have liked to be like everyone else.  However, now that she has seen Camazotz, she understands that her values need to change to embrace nonconformity.


Absolute Zero

At this point in the book, Meg, Calvin, and Mr. Murry have tessered away from Camazotz and materialized on another planet.  When Meg realizes that Charles Wallace is not with them she loses her temper at her father, whom she blames for everything that has gone wrong.  Though Meg has come very far in understanding the importance of nonconformity and accepting (even embracing) her own eccentricities, she is still failing at the most important thing, love.

Love, of self (which means being true to individuality) and love for others are the two most important forces for good in the world.  Meg is doing better at the former than the latter in this passage – she’s still not able to empathize with her father, forgive his shortcomings, and love him for exactly who he is.  This failure of love is described as being “in the power of the Black Thing,” which shows that the author equates evil not simply with bad intentions, but even with the failure to love fully.  Do you love yourself?  Where do you hold back love?

When Mr. Murry says, “We were sent here for something. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose,” this is one of the most explicit appeals to Christianity in the book.  At this point, Meg, Calvin, and Mr. Murry have tessered away from Camazotz.  They were forced to leave Charles Wallace behind, and this passage is Mr. Murry’s response to Meg’s misdirected fury.  Mr. Murry does not instruct Meg to love him more or forgive his shortcomings, but rather to love God in general.  This is reminiscent of the statement that Meg, when she was furious with her father, was in the grip of The Black Thing.

In the book, good/evil and love/hate are abstract forces with concrete implications.  Being filled with love for God spills over and is shown in loving the individual people in you life.  In the book, being filled with love for God is also how you fight The Black Thing, which manifests in everyday life as meanness and bitterness.  This chapter really shows the idea of opposing forces for good and evil the individuals can choose between.  Being loving to others, then, serves a higher purpose.  What are The Black Thing in your life?  What practices do you have that break through?

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