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Children's Literature

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In A Wrinkle in Time, L’Engle advances a modern version of the battle between light and darkness. What is it? How does this conflict parallel the personal issues of protagonist Meg?

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The story A Wrinkle in Time is a fantasy work that portrays a battle between light and darkness that is also a conflict between good and evil. The author of the book modernized the idea by representing the dark side using the “Black Thing” that manifests in a form of the IT and the man with the red eyes. Light represents good characters that fight the darkness. These characters include the immortal ones, such as Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which. They appear when planet Uriel is revealed and symbolize joy and bliss. Mrs. Whatsit, originally a star, dedicated her life to fighting the darkness. Other protectors of light are creatures on the planet Ixchel. Notably, Mr. Murry and his two children, Meg and Calvin, and their friend Charles are also protectors of the light. Light is associated with moral responsibility, love, free will, and individual creativity (L’Engle 53). Evil, on the contrary, represents hatred, personal irresponsibility, conformity, and submission to evil authority. The novel, written in the era of the Cold War, symbolizes the two antagonizing sides of the freedom lovers and the collectivist Soviet Union, who were bureaucratic mind-controllers and brainwashers.

The battle is similar to the personal issues of Meg. As the novel began, Meg was stubborn and lacked moral and personal responsibility. She had desires for conformity and did not appreciate herself. She always felt out of place when in school and always fought with her peers. The girl would tell her mother that she hated being an oddball and wished she could pretend to be someone else. Her mother disagreed with her and said, “No, Meg, but people are more than just the way they look. Charles Wallace's difference isn't physial. It's in essence” (L’Engle 76). Meg’s desire to be like others is an evil feeling of conformity. However, when she went with her brother Charles and her schoolmate Calvin to save her father from the Black Thing, she learned something new. Her father could not save her brother from the evil IT that had possessed him. This incident made Meg learn that she could not always rely on people to solve her problems, but instead she should take personal responsibility. She learned that only forces of light, such as love, could overcome her difficulties, and if she expected her father to solve her problems, she would be thinking like people on Camazotz, who had the desire for identicalness and lacked individuality (L’Engle 72). They were brainwashed by the evil forces and could not think for themselves. After learning this, Meg used love to free her brother from the evil IT while Charles regained his body.

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Although a realistic novel, Paterson’s Bridge to Terabithia argues in favor of the value of hero worship, ritual, and fantasy. Show how.

The story Bridge to Terabithia by Paterson portrays the value of ritual, fantasy, and hero worship. On the perspective of hero worship, the author uses Leslie Burke to show her fearless and competitive heroic traits. She is kind, smart, and admirable in the society for her feminine strength (Paterson 49). These are some of the traits that make Jesse get close to her, especially after she defeats him in a running competition. Although he is first infuriated by the defeat, they become friends and build Terabithia. After her death as a heroine and the queen of the Terabithia, her friend Jesse is terrified; he mourns over her and wishes he could have been there to save her. However, the transformation of Jesse after befriending Leslie helps him overcome the sadness of losing his friend. He pays tribute to his deceased friend with their puppy P.T. Later, the boy moves on with his life and choosess his sister Belle to fill the void of his soul after Leslie and take her place as the new queen. 

Paterson also portrays the value of a ritual, which in this story is mainly based on religion. Leslie is not constrained by church teachings. Although she finds the story of death and resurrection of Christ moving and beautiful, she disregards the harsh teaching about penalties for not accepting the religion. The girl has intellectual curiosity that does not consider spiritualism (Paterson 54). Jesse and her sister are brought up in a religious family that believes in Christ. They see religion as a ritual or ceremony that has rules that need to be followed in order to live a spiritual life and escape eternal damnation after death. Jesse’s Christian beliefs are evident when he fears that Leslie will face eternal damnation because she had doubts about the religion. However, he accepts her death after realizing it was unpreventable. The author uses religion to advocate spirituality and true faith that promises eternal life after death.

Through the creation of the Terabithia the author portrays fantasy. A place that Jesse and Leslie built separated them from the problems they were facing in the real world. These problems include Jesse’s farm work, preoccupied parents, and bullying at school. Terabithia is their imaginary sanctuary from problems in the real world. The author says: “Now it occurred to him that perhaps Terabithia was like a castle where you came to be knighted. After you stayed for a while and grew strong, you had to move on” (Paterson 84). This imaginary sanctuary is similar to a kingdom as it had a king, Jesse, and a queen, Leslie. The kingdom is a wooden shelter that can be accessed through a rope that swings over a creek. The kids even adopted a puppy and named it Prince Terrien, P.T, to join in their imaginary world. The author here shows how children use their imaginary ways to fight problems they are facing at home and school.

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