Monday, May 01, 2006

Blog 10 - Mrs. O'Keefe

The character of Mrs. O’Keefe is one of mystery until her history is recounted in A Swiftly Tilting Planet. She is basically a despicable character because of how she treats her family and her general demeanor. In A Wrinkle in Time we catch our first glimpse of her as Calvin’s mother, “In front of the sink stood an unkempt woman with gray hair stringing about her face. Her moth was open and Meg could see the toothless gums…Then she grabbed a long wooden spoon from the sink and began whacking one of the children” (Wrinkle 96). Although she seems a terrible mother, and by all accounts probably is a bad mother, Calvin loves her.

Our next encounter with Mrs. O’Keefe is not until A Swiftly Tilting Planet at the Thanksgiving feast at the Murry’s home. At this point she is Meg’s mother-in-law and her demeanor has not changed by much, “Her habitual expression was one of resentment. Life had not been kind to her, and she was angry with the world, especially the Murrys” (Planet 5). Later in the novel we find that Mrs. O’Keefe had a younger brother named Chuck, who was badly beaten by their step-father and thrown down a set of stairs, causing significant brain damage. After this he was put into a mental institution, where he died six months later. With this tortured past, Mrs. O’Keefe could not enjoy mature relationships and was always distant with her children. However, despite her ill-actions and distasteful manner, Mrs. O’Keefe felt compelled to do something right before she died. She gave Charles Wallace the rune and he used it to stop Mad Dog Branzillo from beginning a nuclear war. After Charles Wallace completed his mission, Mrs. O’Keefe could die in peace, knowing that she was worthwhile in some way. As Charles Wallace points out, “Meg, no matter what happens, even if Dennys is right about her heart, remember that it was herself she placed, for the baby’s sake, and yours, and Calvin’s, and all of us—…in this fateful hour, it was herself she placed between us and the powers of darkness” (278). Upon the conclusion of this book and Mrs. O’Keefe’s life we see that her sacrifice was perhaps the greatest of all.

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