Good Guys Wear White

I found it interesting that up to Chapter III, the White Rabbit is portrayed as a seemingly innocent character, who simply seems to be late. A person would generally assume a rabbit to be innocent, and the color white would make the rabbit seem to be a “good guy.”

However, as soon as Alice shrank down to a size close to the rabbit, his character completely changes from then on. He becomes bossy and orders her around. Alice tries to follow his orders and find his gloves and fan, but when she finds them in his house, she found another size altering potion. After drinking it, she ends up growing to a very uncomfortable size, and both Alice and the White Rabbit try to solve the problem. Whereas Alice had a peaceful solution to get herself out, the White Rabbit has a much more violent solution… burn the house down! This contradicts the image that Carroll seems to be giving off by making the White Rabbit seem like an innocent little rabbit wearing a white jacket. I feel like this builds up the element of surprise that someone experiences when the rabbit suggests burning the house down and killing Alice.

Why did Carroll make the White Rabbit the color of “good” if he isn’t a very “good” guy? One way to look at it is that Wonderland has essentially flipped all previous knowledge, and rendered it useless. Or did he?

Perhaps the White Rabbit wears white because he perceives himself as a “good guy” in Wonderland?


4 Responses to “Good Guys Wear White”

  1. November 15, 2009 at 10:12 pm

    I don’t think Carroll intended the color white to represent “good”, but I’ll go along with what you are saying. First we have to ask ourselves what is “good”. If you talking about someone who is nice and friendly or someone who cares for others. Who knows if the rabbit is a mean person. Maybe he was just having a bad day. After all he was running late, and who isn’t in a bad mood when they are running late. Then all of the sudden some giant person is in his house which makes his day a little more stressful. Later in the story the rabbit makes friendly conversation with Alice. This shows a better side of him. Carroll must have chosen the color white so that he could make the rabbit more look friendly and inviting whether he is or not.

  2. 2 Rivu D.
    November 9, 2009 at 4:08 am

    I don’t believe that people, or characters in books written for little children for that matter, are simply as black and white as “good” or “bad”. People (and rabbits in this case) have personalities, and a personality is rarely, if never, one hundred percent good or one hundred percent bad. Also, white being the color of something good and pure is indeed a common perception and it actually has historical roots, but in this case does it really have that much significance? Rabbits do not come in a vast variety of colors, so naturally white comes to mind, and perhaps Carroll choosing the color white for his rabbit was simply because black could be seen as morbid and misinterpreted. In addition to this, the rabbits change in personality along with Alice’s size change can again be explained by the fact that he is probably not one hundred percent good or evil, and it actually demonstrates a very common human characteristic, that characteristic being that when one is given an increase in power, one tends to exploit said power. If your looking for an example, take numerous politicians and historical figures who abused their power, but not always for cruel purposes as most people would first think when they first hear abuse of power. But I do agree with you on the point that the rabbits sudden change in character is a bit odd, especially in a book for children, but again I think the answer lies in the fact that the rabbit, and anybody or any character for that matter, is not simply as black and white as good and evil.

  3. 3 Scott M.
    November 8, 2009 at 7:37 am

    Maybe he’s wearing white because he is, in fact, a “bad” guy. After all I’ve read so far it’s evident that Alice isn’t in the real world. Things are flip flopped here, and almost made opposite then reality. Perhaps that since she is in this parallel universe white is the color for bad guys. This whole color situation also proves itself earlier in the story when Alice meets the rat. Usually rat’s are seen as foul character’s but we see this rat help Alice out. So maybe Lewis Carroll is actually telling us that the Rabbit is a “bad” guy by putting him in white.

  4. 4 Christian Long
    November 7, 2009 at 5:06 am

    Glad that someone is already playing around with the potential that characters — beyond Alice — are changing as the story unfolds. No need to assume that a character is ‘static’ just because we are familiar with him/it.

    That being said, is ‘good’ a relative trait? And what does ‘good’ mean in Wonderland?

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