Sense and Nonsense

This is a reply to Colton C.’s Who Am I?

Alice’s questioning of her own identity is something that actually didn’t strike me as that odd. She knows that this sort of thing would not be happening in her own life so she automatically assumes that she is not herself. We always hear of people “taking a walk in someone else’s shoes” so Alice may think that that is what is happening to her. To explain her mathematics, Alice as been taught to show how smart she is and how much she has learned in her lessons. She even says what a shame it is that no one is there to hear her. Yet on another level Alice is simply verifying her own sanity. She is trying to make sense of nonsense. If she can bring some sort of reality into this chaotic universe. We see this theme of making sense of the chaos all throughout the story. After Alice ate the cake that made her grow the first time she is talking about how she will have to send presents to her feet in the mail. After she realizes what she is doing she says,

“Oh dear, what nonsense I’m talking!”

Don’t we all do this?

We look for confirmation of reality and sanity in times of insanity. People everywhere look to religion and political figures to make them feel safe. Alice is simply looking to her knowledge and identity to do the same thing. She doesn’t have anyone to look to at that moment so she looks in her own mind. She compares what is happening to things that she knows such as a telescope. Alice is looking for comfort in her own knowledge and identity when the entire world she had known is gone.

Published in: on November 5, 2009 at 21:28  Comments (2)  

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  1. I don’t know if you are familiar with a character from a movie that was released in the early 1980’s “Fast Times at Ridgement High,” but one of the seminal characters was Jeff Spicoli. Spicoli’s character was somewhat of a derelict, a surfer, not the least interested in his academic pursuits. However, one line from him as always stuck with me as I have moved through the various phases of my life: “wherever you go, there you are.”

    As Kyle said above, Carroll was pushing the existentialism button a bit here. If the world around you is altered, or your perception of it is altered, does that inherently change who you are? I don’t personally feel that is so. Alice’s attempt to normalize herself by checking her comment about mailing packages proves that.

    We’ll all be in various places in our lives, both physically and mentally, and what we have to realize is that the “stuff” of us: our baggage, our needs, our wants, travels with us as well. It’s how we learn to manage it that matters most.

  2. I agree that there is nothing particularly curious about Alice “questioning her identity.” I’ve always maintained that there exists no question with quite as much significance to our lives; the queries of whether there’s a god and whether there’s a definite right and wrong all pale in comparison to the human desire to understand who we are and what our place is in the universe. Considering that it is awfully muddy territory to try and define oneself as an individual (Are we defined by our memories? These can fade. Are we defined by our personalities? These can alter. Just what distinguishes us from everyone else?), Alice wondering if she’s still ‘who she was before’ is not only an understandable emotion, but a clear indication that Carroll was dabbling in a little bit of existentialism. If everything around you changes, are you the same person? How much of us is defined by our surroundings? These are intriguing questions; luckily, Carroll does not answer them, leading to such speculation as what you’ve presented.

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