Mathematics in “A Wrinkle in Time”

There are several interesting topics about math in Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time.“The Tesseract” is about space-time travel, and is often represented as a cube inside a cube that can twist and rotate upon itself. Another way of envisioning it is as a wormhole, perhaps not unlike the one so beautifully and imaginatively seen in the movie Contact. In the book, L’Engle uses illustrations of an ant walking on a piece of string from Point A to Point B. When the hands holding the string bring the ends together, the ant is able to walk immediately across from A to B without traveling the whole length of the string. This is representative of the warping of space itself.

“The black thing” is L’Engle’s personification of moral evil in the universe, also called “IT”. There is a curious overlap with the idea of dark matter. While dark matter is not a moral evil itself, we wonder if it’s mystery and immense power could be manipulated for such should humans ever come to have such control over the cosmos.

The book’s old witches, archangels in disguise, are Mrs. Who, Mrs. Whatsit, and Mrs. Which. They teach the children, Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin, about the 5th dimension and how it is the best way for incorporeal spirits to travel. This is related to the Tesseract. The children get to feel what it is like to be briefly squashed into a two-dimensional world; this is how they can comprehend what it is like to be a 5th (or more) dimensional creature trying to interact with 3rd dimensional creatures like us.

Works Cited

Weare, Jessica. “A Wrinkle in Time.” A Wrinkle in Time. Brown University Mathematics, 4 Dec. 1998. Web. 14 Sept. 2014.

Weisstein, Eric W. “Tesseract.” Wolfram MathWorld. Wolfram Research, Inc., 1999-2014. Web. 14 Sept. 2014.



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