The Transparent Column
Meg is upset and demands to know what the man has done with her brother. She feels that the boy is now only a copy of his former self. Charles, sounding like a recording, says that the man is their friend. But Meg knows that something else is looking out from behind Charles's eyes, and it's not really him who is speaking at all. Calvin grabs Charles, and Meg tries to hit the man, but they are both held back by three of his henchmen. Charles tries to tell Meg that she should relax and realize that all her troubles are over. She just has to submit and give in. Meg knows it is not really Charles who is talking to her, so she does not listen. Calvin asks the man who he is, and the man replies that he is the Prime Coordinator. He also says that Charles will take them to their father. Charles walks off down a corridor and the others follow. Meg persuades Calvin to try to communicate with Charles, and Calvin stares into Charles's eyes, concentrating hard. But the attempt fails. Charles informs them that on Camazotz, all illness has been conquered. No one is allowed to suffer; the sick are simply put to death. He says that IT takes care of such things.
The three children walk through a transparent wall and find themselves in a small, square room. Charles continues his lecture, saying that everyone on Camazotz is happy because they are all alike. He uses the word "we" to include himself in this. He says that it is differences that cause problems. Calvin and Meg argue with him, and also ask him what IT is. Charles replies that IT is the Boss, that sometimes calls itself the Happiest Sadist. There are no individual minds on Camazotz. There is only one mind, and that is IT.
Moving down another corridor, they see into a room where the little boy who was bouncing his ball incorrectly is being painfully retrained. Further down the corridor, Charles again makes the wall transparent, and they look into another room. In the center is a round, transparent column, and inside it is a man. Meg recognizes the man as her father.
It is easy to see in this chapter and the previous one what Mrs. Whatsit meant when she said she would give Meg her faults. The personality traits that serve Meg ill at school are proving useful on Camazotz. She is belligerent, obstinate, uncooperative-everything she needs to be to escape the seductive but evil message given out through the hypnotized Charles and the man with the red eyes.
Meg is also learning a very important lesson. She was always complaining about being different. Now she sees what it is like when everyone is the same, and she realizes that "Maybe I don't like being different, but I don't want to be like everybody else either." It is an important moment of self-discovery, and a refutation of what Charles is trying to convince her of-that differences create problems, and that everyone on Camazotz is happy because they are all alike.