A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle is a classic novel about time travel, courage, the power of love, and the triumph of good over evil. Here is a study guide to the main characters of this book. Students can use these sketches to study for quizzes or get ideas for essay topics. For classroom activities related to the book, please read "Example Activities for A Wrinkle in Time."
The children’s father, Dr. Murry, has mysteriously disappeared. Mrs. Murry insists he will return, but nothing has been heard of him for
over a year. He is an astrophysicist working on top-secret projects.
Margaret “Meg” Murry is the protagonist who is continually in trouble at school. Short-tempered, easily frustrated, and lacking patience, she wants to be a part of the gang but does not fit in. Her strength is in her love – familial and romantic – and she is the oldest in the family. Her 10-year old twin brothers are well-adjusted, but her five-year old brother is considered retarded by the town people.
She needs everything to fit neatly into place and make sense, and is frustrated by events she cannot understand. She describes herself as: “A delinquent, that’s what I am, she thought grimly.”
Charles Wallace is Meg’s brother – mind reading, and wise beyond his years – he trusts in his intellect. The town views him as an idiot savant, but he considers himself a “sport:” – “an organism that shows a marked change from the normal type or parent stock.” He makes friends with three extraterrestrials who help find and rescue Mr. Murry. “It was his mother’s mind, and Meg’s, that he probed with frightening accuracy.”
Calvin O’Keefe is the Murry’s neighbor: good-looking, popular at school, and good athlete, but unhappy in his dysfunctional family. At 14, he is older than Meg. His compulsions are really telepathic powers. He loves his mother even though she is indifferent toward him. He has ten siblings: “They all have runny noses. I’m third from the top of eleven kids. I’m a sport.”
The villain of the story is a disembodied brain operating on pure logic with no compassion. It controls the inhabitants of Camazotz with its mind, and is part of the Black Thing’s dark evilness.
Celestial Extraterrestrials Trio
There are three mysterious characters called the Mrs. Ws who mentor the Murry children in their rescue efforts, but are unable to accompany them to Camazotz or intervene with help.
- Mrs. Whatsit is the youngest of the beings; a star who sacrificed herself in the fight against the Black Thing. She materializes as a weirdly dressed old woman.
- Mrs. Who speaks in quotations as she has trouble expressing herself in English. She wears huge glasses when in her corporeal body.
- Mrs. Which is the oldest of the group of guardian angels and she speaks with elongated consonants. Unlike the other two, she rarely materializes but when corporeal appears in traditional witches garb.
Aunt Beast is Meg’s extraterrestrial nurse.
The Happy Medium is a fortune teller complete with crystal ball who prefers gazing on pleasant scenes. Her name is a play on words as various characters tell Meg she needs “a happy medium.”
The Man with the Red Eyes is described as the Prime Coordinator. In truth, It uses him as a telepathic puppet to make people do what It wants. His name is never revealed.
Mrs. Murry is the mother of the children. Extremely attractive, she is a scientist with doctorates in biology and bacteriology. Although she is a Nobel prize winner, she is portrayed as cooking meals over a Bunsen burner in her lab.
Sandy and Dennys, the twin brothers of Meg and Charles Wallace, are considered the normal children in the family. They don’t understand Meg’s aggressiveness and tell her: “Let us do the fighting when it’s necessary.”
Mr. Jenkins is the unsympathetic school principal who treats Megs harshly. He says: “Do you enjoy being the most belligerent, uncooperative child in school?”
Study Guide Extension and Reading List
These brief character sketches from the A Wrinkle in Time give just a hint of the well-developed and intriguing characters created by Madeleine L’Engle. To learn more about them and discover if Mr. Murry ever makes it back home, why not get a copy of the book and find out for yourself? For activities based on this child's novel, please read "Wrinkle in Time Activities."
For those who wish to read about other adventures of the Murry family, here is a recommended reading list for novels by Madeleine L'Engle:
A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L'Engle, [Yearling, 1973]
A Guide for Using A Wrinkle in Time in the Classroom, Patty Carratello and John Carratello, [Teacher Created Resources, 2004]
A Wind in the Door, Madeleine L'Engle, [Square Fish, 2007]
A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Madeleine L'Engle, [Square Fish, 2007]
An Acceptable Time, Madeleine L'Engle, [Square Fish, 2007}
Definition of sport, Free online dictionary
A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L'Engle, [Ariel Books, 1962]