Monday, April 7, 2014

True but not factual

Madeleine L’Engle’s, A Wrinkle in Time is the timeless tale of true love conquering evil. It is a young adult novel that takes place in some sort of sci-fi-fantasty realm. In an interview held by the Scholastic Corportation, L’Engle said, “I don't think my books tell a lesson, but they do tell a story. We do live in a world where there is darkness and light, and the sooner kids know that, the better. They need to know that we have a choice, and we do have the option to choose good.” 

I could not help but think that L’Engle has either subtly or purposefully infused her writing with her Christian identity. The purpose of science is to explain the unexplainable—to procure truth. Meg has founded her worldly knowledge on facts: “‘How do you know?’ Meg demanded, ‘How do you know I’m not dumb? Isn’t it just because you love me?’ ‘I love you, but that’s not what tells me. Mother and I’ve given you a number of tests, you know’” (11). Meg is influenced by her parent’s scientific methods—a desire to provide evidence for truth. This is how she values herself, on what can be determined by numbers and tests. Meg seems to put science on a pedestal and disregards the unconditional love and affection bestowed on her by her parents. She rather be considered smart because this is what is believed to be valuable. Later Calvin points out to her, “You don’t know lucky you are to be loved” Meg said in a startled way, “I guess I never thought of that. I guess I just took it for granted” (40). 

L’Engle also stated in her interview that as a child interpreted the Bible as a storybook. That the idea of God is neither in the realm of the provable or the unprovable—that faith cannot be approached with reason. She used the parable of Jesus and the man with the plank of wood in his eye. The man does not literally have a plank of wood in his eye but is rather a metaphor to stop being a hypocritcal and take a look at yourself before you judging others. Her fear is that the literalists believe that this man does have a plank of wood in his eye and that this proves their unwillingness to see enormous faults within themselves.  

We are human, we have faults. It's recognizing these faults that are important. Being self-aware and self-loving is just as important as being compassionate and understanding. Meg learns to remove the plank of wood from her eye, and only then does she begin to love herself. In doing this, she has the capacity to outwardly love and ultimately save Charles Wallace. 

Like the Bible, A Wrinkle in Time is a story that is true, but not factual. I think that L’Engle provides this incredible journey of self-discovery in the fantastic to prove that truth can be founded anywhere. Perhaps this is the reason for it being so highly controversial in the literary world. Being able to interpret and find meaning in anything gives power and authority to the reader—children! 

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