"A Wrinkle in Time" by Madeleine L'Engle, Chapters 10-12

Madeleine L'Engle's classic novel details the adventures of the precocious Murry children as they travel across space and time to track down their missing father.

Here are links to our lists for the novel: Chapters 1-3, Chapters 4-6, Chapters 7-9, Chapters 10-12

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. brittle
    having little elasticity
    Her father’s words sounded brittle in her ears, as though they were being chipped out of ice.
    Although Meg hears her father's words as brittle, she is actually the brittle one, since she is slowly waking into a very cold consciousness after a painful whirlwind tear through a wrinkle in time. The physical coldness suggests the other definition of "brittle" ("lacking warmth and generosity of spirit"), which describes the way Meg talks to her father after she discovers that he'd tessered without Charles.
  2. atrophy
    undergo weakening or degeneration as through lack of use
    No mind has tried to hold out against IT for so many thousands of centuries that certain centers have become soft and atrophied through lack of use.
  3. imperceptible
    impossible or difficult to sense
    In contrast to the drabness of color, to the cold that numbed her, the air was filled with a delicate, springlike fragrance, almost imperceptible as it blew softly against her face.
  4. corrosive
    capable of destroying or eating away by chemical action
    Disappointment was as dark and corrosive in her as the Black Thing.
  5. omnipotent
    having unlimited power
    She was frozen, and Charles Wallace was being devoured by IT, and her omnipotent father was doing nothing.
  6. fallible
    wanting in moral strength, courage, or will
    I am a human being, and a very fallible one.
    The chosen definition fits because Meg's father says he can't compare to divine beings such as Mrs Whatsit, Mrs Who, and Mrs Which, and in the same paragraph, he also refers to God. But the simpler definition of "fallible" ("likely to fail or make errors") also fits because he admits to not knowing where they are since he doesn't tesser very well.
  7. assuage
    provide physical relief, as from pain
    But with the tentacle came the same delicate fragrance that moved across her with the breeze, and she felt a soft, tingling warmth go all through her that momentarily assuaged her pain.
  8. trepidation
    a feeling of alarm or dread
    The middle beast, a tremor of trepidation in his words, said, “You aren’t from a dark planet, are you?”
  9. relinquish
    release, as from one's grip
    The Black Thing does not relinquish its victims willingly.”
  10. oppressive
    weighing heavily on the senses or spirit
    Nevertheless there was a sense of openness, a feel of a gentle breeze moving lightly about, that kept the darkness from being oppressive.
  11. despondency
    feeling downcast and disheartened and hopeless
    Such a wave of despondency came over Meg that she was no longer able to eat.
  12. distraught
    deeply agitated especially from emotion
    “The child is distraught. Don’t judge her harshly. She was almost taken by the Black Thing. Sometimes we can’t know what spiritual damage it leaves even when physical recovery is complete.”
  13. emanate
    proceed or issue forth, as from a source
    Every once in a while she thought she felt a flicker of understanding from Aunt Beast or one of the others, but most of the time all that emanated from them was gentle puzzlement.
  14. reverberate
    ring or echo with sound
    Suddenly a thundering voice reverberated throughout the great hall:
  15. formidable
    extremely impressive in strength or excellence
    Mrs Which’s voice rolled formidably across the hall. “Ssilencce, cchilldd!”
    "Formidable" also means "inspiring fear"--this definition would be supported by another description of Mrs Which's voice as "grim" ("harshly uninviting or formidable in manner" or "not to be placated or appeased or moved by entreaty"). Aside from Mrs Which's voice making her "skin prickle into gooseflesh," Meg is faced with the formidable mission of saving her brother from IT and the Black Thing (which nearly killed her).
  16. confound
    be confusing or perplexing to
    For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called, but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.
  17. prevail
    prove superior
    She paused, and then she said, “May the right prevail.”
  18. permeate
    spread or diffuse through
    She gasped for breath, for breath in her own rhythm, not the permeating pulsing of IT.
  19. reiterate
    to say, state, or perform again
    Charles Wallace was crouched beside IT, his eyes still slowly twirling, his jaw still slack, as she had seen him before, with a tic in his forehead reiterating the revolting rhythm of IT.
  20. appalling
    causing shock, dismay, or horror
    For an appalling moment Meg believed, and in that moment she felt her brain being gathered up into IT.
    "Consternation" means "fear resulting from the awareness of danger" or "sudden confusion, amazement or dismay"--for a moment, Meg feels all this as she believes the lie that Mrs Whatsit had sent her to IT to be captured rather than to save Charles. But Meg quickly shakes herself loose and she is again appalled ("struck with disgust or revulsion") by IT.
  21. unadulterated
    not mixed with impurities
    No, it was not anger, it was loathing; it was hatred, sheer and unadulterated, and as she became lost in hatred she also began to be lost in IT.
  22. vestige
    an indication that something has been present
    With the last vestige of consciousness she jerked her mind and body.
  23. withstand
    resist or confront with resistance
    If she could give love to IT perhaps it would shrivel up and die, for she was sure that IT could not withstand love.
  24. vulnerable
    capable of being wounded or hurt
    Her own Charles Wallace, the real Charles Wallace, the child for whom she had come back to Camazotz, to IT, the baby who was so much more than she was, and who was yet so utterly vulnerable.
    "Vulnerable" also means "susceptible to criticism or persuasion or temptation"--this definition is more specific than the chosen definition, because it lists the ways that a person can be wounded (humans and IT have both failed and succeeded in throwing those 3 at Charles). The general definition is a better fit because Meg wants to protect her baby brother from all the possible dangers of the world.
  25. exuberance
    joyful enthusiasm
    He dashed across the lawn to join in the joy, and almost knocked them all over with the exuberance of his greeting.

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