We really get a glimpse of evil in these two chapters! The Man with the Red Eyes is surely that. The children find the man wit the red eyes waiting for them on Camazotz, once they enter the CENTRAL Central Intelligence building and are sent to speak with whoever is in authority. Like all those under IT’s control, it is never really him who is speaking to the children, but IT. He (or rather, IT) manages to bring Charles’ mind under the control of IT, but after the IT-controlled Charles then takes Meg and Calvin to see Mr. Murry’s prison cell, the man with the red eyes is seen no more.
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The man with the red eyes tries to convince the characters to stop resisting and conform to the norms of Camazotz. When he frames this as a way for them to find happiness, it is clear that the presence of these nonconforming people is a threat to IT. He has a soothing voice, but looks scary. This is another time when we should look beyond appearances to the essence of things.
This is also a time when the characters are offered easy happiness and freedom from pain in exchange for their cooperation. While what he promises sounds wonderful (much like erasing your individuality to become popular), the reality is obviously much more complicated. The characters have to learn the value of their individuality and the power of love in order to discern good from evil and defeat The Black Thing.
We also see the disconnect in this chapter between appearance and reality. Charles Wallace’s body looks one way, but his personality is gone and his essence show something that is separate from how he appears. The other characters want to listen to this trusted person, but must keep in mind that he is not actually who he used to be. Something else is in control.
This is true in our daily lives as well! We are not promised that everything will be bring us happiness. We are however promised to never be left alone. When you are unhappy, where do you turn? Is it something or someone? Do you choose healthy behaviors, or something else?
Meg was introduced in Chapter 1 as someone suffering from her differences. She did not appreciate her unique talents and personality because they separated her from her peers and she thought she would be happier if she were more popular. Calvin, who knows the loneliness of popularity that comes from stifling his individuality, has a more nuanced perspective on difference – all he wants is to find people who are able to relate to him as he is rather than accept him for who he isn’t.
This chapter is a turning point for Meg in which she is beginning to see that it’s better for her to be who she is than try to be someone else. She’s not yet willing to embrace that she is different – she says that maybe she doesn’t “like being different”- but she is able to say for the first time that she doesn’t want to be like everyone else. Seeing the extreme conformity on Camazotz has given her perspective on the blessings that she has been given, which she had initially seen as a curse. What differences do you hide? Are you trying to conform or are you your real true self? Who do you feel that you need to “turn on for?” Who does God call you to be?
Charles Wallace’s body tries to talk Meg and Calvin into submitting to the conformity of Camazotz. He does this by offering the kind of easy happiness that the man with the red eyes offered. This is a moment in which Meg is beginning to realize that the kinds of easy solutions that she craves are not always the correct ones (in contrast to math, which she is so good at).
She begins to understand that happiness and unhappiness are linked – you can’t have one without the other because they exist in relation to one another. In a way, this is another case of deceptive appearances. The man with the red eyes promises that everyone is happy on Camazotz and there is no suffering or pain. However, even if people on Camazotz were always happy, that happiness would lose its meaning in the absence of all different kinds of emotions. In other words, just like it’s important to have many different kinds of people in the world, it is also important to have many different emotions.
When do you spend the most time with God? Are you thanking or asking? If you look at your relationship with God, what would you say is good about it? Where is there room for improvement? Would you like to live on Camazotz?