12
Nov
09

Out of Place

Is the puppy near the end of Chapter IV a bit too strange for Wonderland, perhaps? All of the other animals in the novel have experienced anthomorphism and gained the ability to speak and act like a human. However, the puppy acts just like a real world puppy would. It is a giant ball of energetic fur that simply wants attention and to have fun. Alice plays with the puppy for a while, and eventually stops playing and continues exploring. Before discovering the puppy, the sounds of the Wonderland creatures fade off into the distance. This scene feels like it’s bringing Alice back into the real world, but she isn’t quite there yet due to her small size. Why is it that there is a seemingly random animal there? Here’s my idea.

In the previous chapters, Alice keeps mentioning how her cat, who is a pet, often eats little animals. She finds it a postive topic to talk about, until oh, she encounters a giant pet that can easily eat her. She finally experiences the point of view of the defenseless animals, and normally would have played with the puppy. However, when her life is on the line, she understands why the animals were so eager to avoid talking about pets. Alice does play with the puppy, but the wording almost makes it seem involuntary and reluctant, as she is fearing for her life. She worries about coaxing the puppy because it might eat her. Alice is starting to realize that Wonderland is a dog-eat-dog world, or in this case, a dog-eat-Alice world. Nobody goes out of their way to be nice to her like the real world. The book is essentially exposing children to the fact that in the real world, people aren’t always going to be nice to you.


4 Responses to “Out of Place”


  1. December 16, 2009 at 3:15 am

    Interesting post, Connor! When I read your comments about the dog-eat-dog/Alice world I thought of two things Carroll might have considered as he wrote:
    1. conventions in children’s literature, particularly fairy and folk tales where big creatures (ogres and giants and witches for instance) often eat or threaten to eat smaller creatures, scary stuff, but again this stuff may help children work through real fears psychologically. And then there’s also the more modern, “We’ll eat you up we love you so!”
    2. Darwin was writing around the same time as Carroll and Darwinian ideas regarding evolution and survival of the fittest (and size being key to survival) might have been on the minds of many of Carroll’s readers.

  2. 2 Connor M.
    November 26, 2009 at 11:41 pm

    That is a great concept, how Alice is finally learning why the other animals stray away from predator-like animals during conversations. I find that completely true. Honestly, before, I couldn’t think of one reason why Carroll put the dog into the story, other than maybe the dream consists of abstract things from Alice’s real life. I completely agree with you.

  3. 3 Adam K
    November 14, 2009 at 11:11 pm

    I agree with you on the point that Carroll is teaching a lesson that “people aren’t always going to be nice to you.” However I think that Carroll put the puppy in the book to show something from the real world and not just as a life lesson, so the book would not just have nonsensical things. The puppy is the only thing or animal that can be considered something from the real world besides Alice and I think Carroll put him in the book for that reason.


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