When I first read this book as a kid, I remember coming out of it being slightly confused about what had just happened.
I still feel that way. I think it’s the end. The inexplicable wind that blows the door open. Is it supposed to show that Progo is still with them, in some form, or something of that ilk?
Symbolism has never really been my strong point.
So, anyway. It’s kind of like a more grown-up version of the Magic School Bus. (Now, children, we’re in
Arnold’s Charles Wallace’s mitochondria! Do you note the difference in DNA from its host cell? Who knows what DNA is?) I know the point is to show that no matter how big or small something is (and we kind of dealt with “big” in Wrinkle), everything is interconnected and important, but I really liked the Magic School Bus when I was little.
I did learn (re-learn) about mitochondria, though, so hoorah. And Meg seemed to have grown quite a bit since the first book, though she does get a bit whiny at points.
I do kind of wish we’d connected the Echthroi (Greek for “enemy,” by the by) back to the Black Thing from Wrinkle somehow, or talked about it at all. Progo has one off-hand comment about dark planets, but other than that, the topic is not breached at all. Are there two evil forces at work in the galaxy? Does one work for the other? In what way? The Black Thing seemed more about control than destruction.
I also found the chronology confusing. The book was published in 1973, but the moon landings are several (decades?) in the past. I guess she’s trying to go near-future, but aside from the moon landings, she doesn’t try to age anything to make it seem futuristic at all. The environment seems perfectly entrenched in the decade it was written.
All right, onto the discussion questions.
1. How is Xing yourself different (and therefore better) than the Echthroi Xing you? Do you think it hurts as much?
2. Madeleine L’Engle invented the fictional farandolae as an essential component of this story. Why do you think she needed an additional level of depth past mitochondria?
3. What do you think it means that even a garden snake can be a Teacher?
4. Progo refers to himself as “practically plural.” What do you interpret this to mean?
5. The Echthroi appear to be something, so how is it that they can create nothing?
As always, feel free to bring up your own points and questions in the comments.
And read Many Waters (which, if memory serves me, is my favorite) for October 30th.