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Saturday, March 5, 2011

Through the Looking Glass XII -- chapters 9 - 12: The End

Chapter 9:

I'm not really sure how to approach this one; there's really not a whole lot to say about it.  Alice is Queen.  Carroll has said goodbye.  She takes her position gracefully (no stiff-neckedness here), and as things settle, so they fall apart.  The dream ends here, just like it did in the Tart Trial of Wonderland, and the only thing left to Carroll is to end the saga.  This is a very charitable finale, as he does so tenderly, and as he is no longer a part of it.  The chapter is rife with excellent jokes and wordplay, but there's a distance between reader and action, surely drawn--intentionally or not--by Carroll's own increasing distance from the growing Alice.  One detail I'm a big fan of, and regarding the relationship's terminus, is that he sends her off with fireworks!

By the way, I mentioned earlier that Carroll never wrote poetry in anapests.  Well, this chapter proves me wrong.

Chapters 10 and 11:

It was at the suggestion of another of Carroll's young friends that the Red Queen turn into the black kitten, Kitty.  Further, there's an article called "Alice Through the Zodiac," in which one Everett Bleiler points out how the twelve chapters align with signs of the zodiac, including the Tweedles as Gemini, the Goat on the train as Capricorn, and so on.  "True" Carrollians (a club to which I can't claim to be member, though not necessarily for this) believe Carroll simply wanted twelve chapters, as he never displayed interest in the Zodiac.

Chapter 12:

I'm interested by Kitty, the black kitten, who, like all cats, only says the same thing, *purr*, no matter what the conversation.  Of course this isn't any kind of a conversation; there must be contrast for dialog.  In my personal experience with children and teens (as a father and teacher, respectively), this isn't uncommon, especially when the kid in question is of one of the following three types (though, really, this goes equally for adults): obstinate of mood, an idiot, of extremely heightened emotion (very happy, very sad, very angry, etcetera).  I wonder who, if anyone, the little black kitten may be at this point.

Bearing in mind the fact that it was Carroll, not Alice, who wrote the book, as well as Carroll's relationship with and love for the girl, and whatever psychoses he may or may not have had toward her, what do you think of the "serious" question Alice posits to Kitty?


  1. 9. The talking mutton! More animals that dislike being eaten. Also, notice that being a queen isn't all that it's cracked up to be? In fact, it's by far the least pleasing chapter of the book from Alice's perspective.
    10/11. This is awesome. I subscribe to the theory.
    12. I think that Carroll dreamed it. The question is whether that makes him the cat. I'm not sure that it does. I'd like to see what you think.

  2. 9. I thought the same of the mutton. Hilarious. And I've always been a fan of the talking pudding as well (and, historically, puddings were made from animal drippings, from roasts over the hearth).
    12. I think Carroll is the Red King. However, I think it's a little more complicated than that, especially in view of the closing poem. I think that he hopes that these are dreams Alice might have, and by writing it, hopes that Alice Liddell might read it (I'm sure she did and that he knew she would) and perhaps experience one more fantasy with her old friend and return, even temporarily, to Wonderland and its, well, affiliate.


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