from Evening Song by Willa Cather
Meg Murry does not know how far, but she knows it is very, very far.
Her father, a brilliant physicist doing top secret work for the government, disappeared years ago. Perhaps he is on some other star. Perhaps he has died. Perhaps the rumors are true and he ran off with someone, though Meg doesn’t believe it. Nothing adds up. And Meg is used to things adding up.
She’s a mathematical genius. She can convert ordinary fractions to infinite periodic decimal fractions in her head (whatever that means — it’s in chapter 3). But what else would you expect from someone whose nickname, Meg, is short for megaparsec?
But Meg is no superhero, despite her math skills. She’s a bright girl with glasses and braces who feels like a mistake. She is Every Girl, every listless star.
Meg raised her head, and moonlight shone on her tearstained face; without the glasses her eyes were unexpectedly beautiful. ‘If Charles Wallace is a sport, I think I’m a biological mistake.’ Moonlight flashed against her braces as she spoke.”
This is where the adventure begins, at Meg’s lowest point. The question isn’t how far to Father but how far to Meg.
One of the things I’ve always loved about Meg is that she seems to have complete access to all her passionate feelings and all her mathematical genius at once. She doesn’t just get angry — she gets into fights at school. She doesn’t just feel sad — she cries so much that it’s “too much.” She does math that I can’t begin to understand. All of that together makes her not only who she is but ultimately, the only person who can save the day.
As the story unfolds she’ll need the help of her little brother, Charles Wallace, and her friend, Calvin, along with three mysterious visitors: Mrs Whatsit, Mrs Who, and Mrs Which. They will travel beyond their own light. They will all fight in one way or another. But Meg will be the star.
For Discussion or Journaling
1. This story lies somewhere between fantasy and science fiction. What can we learn about our reality from taking a journey into an alternate one?
2. Of the three main characters who go on this adventure — Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin — who do you relate to the most? (If you most relate to one of the Mrs’s, then we need to sit down over a cup of cocoa.)
3. Although she is not part of the adventure, Mrs. Murry, Meg’s mother, is the steady presence at the beginning and end of the story. We’re told in these chapters she writes to her husband every night. Write a letter to someone who isn’t here.
We’re discussing Madeleine L’Engle’s classic A Wrinkle in Time this month.
We’re also using the poem Evening Song by Willa Cather as a guide. Join us as we tesser through this Newbery-winning classic. Next week we’ll read chapters 5-8.
Catch up on other A Wrinkle in Time posts.
“Megan Willome’s The Joy of Poetry is not a long book, but it took me longer to read than I expected, because I kept stopping to savor poems and passages, to make note of books mentioned, and to compare Willome’s journey into poetry to my own. The book is many things. An unpretentious, funny, and poignant memoir. A defense of poetry, a response to literature that has touched her life, and a manual on how to write poetry. It’s also the story of a daughter who loses her mother to cancer. The author links these things into a narrative much like that of a novel. I loved this book. As soon as I finished, I began reading it again.”
—David Lee Garrison, author of Playing Bach in the D. C. Metro