The Man With Red Eyes
The children decide to go into the building. The huge door opens automatically and they find themselves in a great entrance hall. Men in business suits are sitting on marble benches that line three of the walls. Charles asks one of the men what the procedure is. He replies by talking about presenting papers to a machine. He tells them he runs a spelling machine and has come to report that one of his letters has jammed. Charles makes a facetious answer that leads Meg to worry about his pride, which Mrs. Whatsit warned him about. The man says he does not want to get sent to IT, and adds that the children may be detained for three days.
The children are scared. They step into a room that has long rows of machines. Charles calls out that someone is trying to get inside his mind. At the end of the room sits a man with bright reddish eyes. Above his head is a light that throbs in a steady rhythm. Charles warns the others to close their eyes, otherwise the man will hypnotize them. The man says that will not make any difference, and that they must not oppose him. Soon they will not have the slightest desire to do so. He will make all the decisions for everyone on the planet, and they are all happy. He tries to get the children to say together the multiplication table, but they all resist, saying other things instead. Meg asks where they can find their father. The man tries to tell her that her father had not acted very much like a father, because he has abandoned his family, but Meg refuses to accept this. Then Charles Wallace darts forward and hits the man. Meg and Calvin hold him back. The man commands Charles to look directly into his eyes. Charles starts to walk toward the man, but Meg makes a flying tackle to stop him. The man is displeased, and says that if they want to see their father again, they must cooperate. The man arranges for delicious-smelling food to be brought to them, but Meg is suspicious. Even so, they all eat the meal of turkey. Meg and Calvin find that it tastes fine, but Charles complains that it tastes of sand. The man explains that this is because he can get into the minds of Meg and Calvin, but he cannot yet penetrate Charles. Charles decides that he must find out who this man really is. He will let the man into his mind, while trying to keep part of himself out. But he does not succeed, and his mind gets taken over completely. Meg realizes with alarm that Charles has gone.
The theme of evil as conformity and excessive bureaucracy is continued in this chapter. Camazotz is a world of machines rather than thinking people. Life on Camazotz is tempting in a superficial kind of way. Note that the man with red eyes promises the children a relaxing, easier life if they do not try to resist him. He appeals to the human desire to give up responsibilities, to be relieved of the burden of making decisions. The message is that although it may be harder to take responsibility for one's actions, to make decisions and initiate action, and far easier to let someone or something else do it instead, that is not the true purpose of human life.
Another lesson to be learned is that humans must know their limitations and the attitudes that are likely to get them into trouble. Charles finds out in this chapter the consequences of pride, which is one of the Seven Deadly Sins in Christian tradition. Charles may be smart, but he would be better to hide how smart he is and realize his own limitations in this situation. He is much too sure of himself, and that is why he falls prey to evil. He underestimates the power of evil and does not know what weapon would be most effective to use against it. He does not realize that it is neither will power nor intelligence, but something else-something that will not be apparent until Meg learns what it is in the final chapter.