Nothing is solid or, more accurately, permanent in chapter 5; this impermanence is the foundation of any understanding to be had here. Consider the following points:
- Jam, or treats (despite Alice's dislike of jam--or iam in Latin, which interchanges i and j, and means "now," but only in past and future tenses), are only available tomorrow or yesterday;
- there are tears in anticipation of an event, but once the event has happened, the emotions are spent;
- the crow is gone, and Alice's words support the acknowledgment of the crow as death omen by admitting a fear of nightfall (which nightfall indicates death in the introductory poem), now optimistically passed;
- Alice laments of Looking-Glass House's loneliness, which is interesting as Wonderland was not significantly more populace, but Looking-Glass certainly has a dense air of solitude;
- and finally, the White Queen (Carroll, perhaps) indicates that it is healthy, important, and even necessary to believe in impossible things, which is an uncharacteristically optimistic sentiment for this book, along with the fallacious belief that the threat of nightfall has passed (night and death are always coming).
- Again, nothing remains the same, and all the less so now we're in this shop. Nothing is found when you look for it: the toys and amusements always in the periphery and nothing directly before you; however, when Alice isn't looking, she is suddenly back in the boat again (I say "back . . . again" because this is exactly how the Alice books got started in the first place: in a boat, rowing) and with, of all things, an innocent, white sheep. The river banks are not golden this go-'round, however, and they frown disconsolately, and still Alice is so lonely.
- Feathering is a rowing technique, which can be seen in use quite expertly in the movie The Social Network (no further connection between Alice and the film or filmmakers intended); to catch a crab was slang for extending the oar too deeply and it's subsequent "catching" in the water would often unseat the rower.
- Also the rushes, similar to the items in the store, are elusive, especially those that are the loveliest, which are also the farthest away; and regardless of the ease of picking or getting at them, once picked the rushes rapidly lose their beauty. Beauty, of course, is just as elusive and ephemeral, both in its subject abstraction and its permanence, and, according to the text, the beauty of dreams all the more so; but Alice, despite and perhaps for her similarity to these rushes, doesn't notice, distracted as she is by everything else, their wilting.
- What do you make of the egg and the trees?