Pre-Thoughts and Chapter One

My reactions to the Alice at a first glance is that it seems like a child’s story; mainly because it has only ever been introduced to me as a child’s story. It was odd to learn that the book was written by a mathematician and not an actual author. Another odd thing was that the book was written for a small girl that Carroll knew quite well, and that the Alice portrayed in the movie is actually a wrong interpretation of the little girl. It is this year, about three days ago, I learned that there were little ‘shout-outs’ to adults and higher thinkers in the story of Alice to intrigue them. It may be hard to observe the little comments left by Lewis Carroll in the book of The Annotated Alice, but I really do not know for I have never read the book. It may be difficult to comprehend the comments left by Carroll, but I hope I can identify them more readily as time progresses. I have never been too good at identifying symbolism, but hopefully with this project, and the help from my group, it will be easier for me to identify the ‘shout-outs.’ No one has ever told me that the story is actually intended for adults except for Mr. Long, and it is going to be a different way of looking at this seemingly simple story.

After reading chapter one, I can already tell that this book is going to be quite quirky. Of course what I remembered form the movie was not exactly normal, but this book makes little sense to me. First off, Alice sees a rabbit in a vest, but the first thing she notices is the watch that this “late” rabbit is holding. She does not even see the jacket/vest that he is wearing. It seems that the jacket was an after-thought upon seeing the rabbit, and that she thought that the idea of a rabbit in a vest was ‘normal.’ I mean the jacket would be the first thing I would notice if I were to ever see a rabbit wearing a vest. Then there is the whole defying physics portion when Alice falls down the rabbit hole, and is surrounded by a large assortment of objects. Some how she is able to pick up an empty jar and replace it on another cupboard with tremendous ease. Not only does that make no sense and defy basic physics, but what relevance does that have to the story? The only explanation I can think of is that this is a sign that Alice is entering a world without barriers; that this world will make little sense. Then Alice’s childhood innocence comes into play again when she overlooks the small door hidden behind a random curtain. The curtain would stick out, but Alice does not notice the curtain at first inspection. I would be provoked to look for an escape and my curiosity would take over. My curiosity would make me open the curtain to unveil the small little door. On the complete contrary, Alice becomes all responsible and reasonable when she discovers the drink on the table. This little girl is concerned that someone might poison her and want her harmed. She moves away from childhood innocence to adult cynicism. This may mean that her changing in size may provoke her to become a different character. By size change she becomes a dynamic character.

I think there are probably some references and little ‘shout-outs’ that I am not getting in this odd story. It still seems purely like a child’s story where random things happen and the audience (the kids) do not question the simple, yet odd, occurrences. I do not think Alice is of sound mind. I am not saying that she is dumb or has some sort of mental defect, but only that she may be tired or very imaginative. I mean she is bored in the beginning of the story, so maybe she drifts into a day dream of some sort. We all know that dreams seldom make sense, and even though Alice is somewhat fictitious, she must be the same. Yet I can not help but think that Carroll is shouting to us through the book that these weird occurrences are important.

Published in: on October 28, 2009 at 15:19  Comments (5)  

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  1. Continue to smile at your mention of the rabbit’s vest being enough to inspire wonder on your part. I agree. But then again, we’re no longer “children” in the way that Carroll portrays Alice, so perhaps we’ve lost the vision that allows her to overlook that quirky detail.

    BTW, I really appreciate this from your entry: “Not only does that make no sense and defy basic physics, but what relevance does that have to the story? The only explanation I can think of is that this is a sign that Alice is entering a world without barriers; that this world will make little sense.” Great point re: “a world without barriers.” Well said.

    And then you said: “We all know that dreams seldom make sense, and even though Alice is somewhat fictitious, she must be the same. Yet I can not help but think that Carroll is shouting to us through the book that these weird occurrences are important.” We shall soon see!

  2. As I read your first paragraph I found myself nodding at your thoughts and questions.

    The whole story is something that we have to let our imagination go and just read it like it is. I think that this is difficult for some of us to understand because we are so used to things going like they are supposed to and not in a “magical” way. We are used to humans walking and talking and rabbits hopping around with out clothes or watches. I believe we want to think this way because we have grown out of typical child “Fairy-Tale” story, and have been taught on a higher level of thinking. When we read some fiction story that we are not accustomed to, it catches us off guard and we began asking the WHY and the HOW questions instead of just going with the story.

    In my analysis of chapter one I asked many of the same questions. Here it is if you would like to check it out.

    http://aliceproject7.wordpress.com/2009/10/29/its-just-a-talking-rabbit-analysis-of-chapter-one-part-1-of-3/

  3. @Hersh T.: I agree in that the idea that Alice is entering a world sans limitations is a powerful concept. The next question is, what will Alice accomplish in a limitless world? Defying physics, size transformation, a sea of tears are, of course, immediate examples that come to mind. But what of the greater good? Will Alice be successful in doing something meaningful in Wonderland?

  4. The idea that Alice is entering a world without limitations is a very intriguing idea. However, maybe he is suggesting that she is not entering a world without restrictions but simply entering a world where the restrictions do not mean anything. They are still there, they just do not pertain to anything she does or anything that can happen. Overall, without having read the book this was very thoughful and interesting.

  5. Responding to you questioning the necessity of physics in the plot:

    Luckily for us, we are given the Annotated Alice to analyze, which means we can refer to Gardener’s notes when our eyebrows curl in confusion due to Carroll’s loony story.

    On page 13, note subscript 4, it reads:

    “In Carroll’s day there was considerable popular speculation about what would happen if one fell through a hole that went straight through the center of the earth.”

    No, it may not have a significant relevance to the plot, but neither does the marmalade, her sister reading in the first paragraph of the chapter, or descriptions of the hallways as she is chasing the White Rabbit. Many things in a story are not necessary, but simply add more appeal to a story. References to modern day speculations can help the reader become more engaged in the story because they can relate. Yes, this type of physics and questions were pondered by deeply thinking scientists, but society always has some way of dumbing down an idea so far that even a child can understand, and point out the idea/theory in a book.

    (And we must keep in mind that no matter how hard he tries to keep two identities separate, Carroll can’t help but leak a little math into his story)

    Finally, I very sincerely enjoy your explanation of the physics: “this world will make little sense.” As we all can predict, yes, it will make no sense. It’s nice of the author to warn us subconsciously beforehand.


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