Monday, April 7, 2014

Breaking Modernity

A major theme in A Wrinkle in Time is the power of love. I immediately picked up on this theme since we are reading it in such close proximity with The Color Purple. Both books present readers with female protagonists who live on the fringe of society. Both of these characters lack a true father figure and feel as if they will never fit into their surroundings. However, both are ultimately saved through the power of love. When Meg is finally able to defeat IT, it is because she realizes the one thing she has that he does not is love. She realizes, “She had Mrs. Whatsit’s love, and her father’s, and her mother’s, and the real Charles Wallace’s love, and the twins’, and Aunt Beast’s. And she had love for them.” (L’Engle 199). Meg realizes that her one extraordinary power is her uncanny ability to love those in her own life. As we saw in The Color Purple, by loving someone, we grant them an identity. In that novel, Celie feels as if she is worthless and simply an object to be used by men. However, as she grows in her relationship with Shug and learns to love she begins to see that she truly does have worth and power as an individual. The act of loving and being loved in return both grants others an identity while confirming your own.
    The main conflict in this novel is the cliché conflict of good vs. evil. However, even though this novel is a children’s book, L’Engle is making serious adult claims about the nature of love in the modern world. On the planet where IT rules, there are strict rules and everything operates as if it has been coded into a computer. L’Engle could be commenting on the obsession with technology our culture has. This obsession has further developed in our own time and has even subdivided into smaller categories. Nowadays, we are dependent on things such as social media and cell phones that fulfill no physical or emotional needs that we as humans need to fulfill. We become like the people on Camazotz because we are so immersed in the technology of our time. L’Engle is suggesting that we need to break free from this obsession and focus on human interactions rather than technology. Notice that the various gifts that the Mrs. W’s gives are not superpowers or high tech gadgets; they are emotional powers that expand each characters’ ability to interact with other people. Ultimately the power of love is what saves Meg and her family. She breaks Charles from the monotony of IT (possibly symbolic of modernity) by declaring him an individual with her love.

            An obvious form of love in our community at Loyola and in Baltimore is the presence of service. There is no greater form of love than to offer ourselves up to the needs of others without looking for any personal gain. Whether we work at Habitat for Humanity, the Refugee Youth Project, or Acts for Youth, we are giving of ourselves as individuals to help other individuals. Our society has a tendency to overlook the less fortunate as we constantly are striving towards new goals or markers of success. By serving our community, we break this train of ignorance. The act of service is directly parallel to Meg’s use of love to defeat IT. L’Engle is calling us as readers to step out from the norm in attempt to fix a society that she sees has skewed values. The “Dark Thing,” as Meg calls us could be read as a symbol for modern materialism. We are always looking to buy the newest things or have the latest technology but L’Engle is showing us that the interaction between humans is far more worthwhile. At one point in the novel, the Mrs. W’s mentions all of the great humans who have joined in the fight against the Dark Thing. They mention figures such as Jesus, Einstein, and Gandhi. While this obviously where some of the controversy lies, there is a reason L’Engle chooses these figures. All three men preached warnings about becoming obsessed with things of no value. They told us to focus instead on loving one another. Einstein even said it himself, “I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.” 

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