Meg’s Disillusionment of Her Parents
In the novel A Wrinkle in Time by L’Engle, protagonist Meg Murry has a complex relationship with her parents. Her father has been missing for years and rumors are circulating around town about a possible affair. Yet throughout it all, Meg maintains a hero worship for her father. In her mind, Mr. Murry is infallible; he is this perfect man in the memorialized picture that she loves. He will come back from whatever secret mission that he is on for the government, and when he does everything will be better (or at least that is what she keeps telling herself). Whenever someone brings up the topic, such as her nosey teacher, she gets extremely defensive. Even when Calvin, her new crush, attempts to bring it up, she immediately shuts down. Yet Calvin, in his frank but gentle way, pushes past Meg’s barriers to make her face some hard truths. At her emotional response, she tells Calvin that she “I should be like Mother. I should be able to control myself” (52). Like her perception of her dad, Meg believes her mother to be perfect. She is beautiful, smart, and always in control. Meg wishes desperately to be like her.
Meg placing her parents on a pedestal is not unreasonable. She does not fit in with any of her peers, but at home she feels loved. She has a close relationship with both parents. Before her father disappeared, he taught her math. He also had many unique nicknames for her. Her mother is accepting of Meg’s differences. While she loves and supports her, Mrs. Murry also pushes Meg to challenge herself. Without Mr. Murry home, Meg and her mother develop an even closer bond.
Meg’s view of her parents is very childlike. They are her “superheroes.” Yet throughout the book Meg grows in maturity. She begins to develop into the first stages of adulthood. As with any person, maturity comes with some harsh realities. Meg is forced to deal with the fact that her parents are not as perfect as she thought. With the help of Happy Medium, Meg is able to see her mother break down, showing Meg that Mrs. Murry is not as stoic as she seems. Mrs. Murry becomes not only her mother, but also a woman who very much misses her husband. Meg starts to realize that her mother is also her own complex individual, not just the role of mother. Her realization of her father’s fallibility is a much more difficult transition for Meg. She is at first extremely upset that she her father is “not omnipotent after all” (151). This disillusionment of her parents is an extremely important step for Meg. She realizes that her parents are just people. She learns that “there was nothing to guarantee that it would all come out right in the end” (165). While this dose of reality is harsh, it is necessary. Without it Meg would not be able to grow as a person and discover who she really is. She finally realizes why she is so upset her new realization; she tells her father, “I wanted you to do it all for me. I wanted everything to be all easy and simple” (191). Meg learns that she has to rely on herself. Life is not easy and she has to be strong enough to deal with it. If everything was done for her, Meg would never become a self-functioning person. She would never learn who she is or what her strengths are.
This need for children to learn for themselves reminded me of my last volunteer session at Tunbridge. The students were learning how to create paragraphs. Their teacher was showing them a systematic way to analyze a text and apply quotes. Yet, to the students’ dismay, he choose an example from a previous text instead of the text they had to work on. When the students complained, the teacher replied that if he had given them the example they wanted, everyone would copy that and would never work one out on their own. He said the only way to truly learn was to try for themselves. While this example is not life and death learning like Meg faces, the lesson is very similar. In life, one cannot rely on others to pave the way for them. One must learn how to rely on one’s self in life. Hopefully there will be guidance and help along the way, as the Mrs. W’s provided, but ultimately one must believe in their own abilities and strengths. There might be pitfalls along the way, but they are part of the journey of self-discovery.