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Growing Pains

November 9, 2009
Alice trapped in the White Rabbit's home.

The discomfort shown in Alice's face may relate to more than her uncomfortable situation.

Once again, Alice’s curiosity has caused her to change her size. In this scene, Alice grows until she cannot fit in the house any longer.

Alice soon finds herself too large for the White Rabbit’s home, but she cannot do anything to leave it. I see this as a child growing up – and moving away – from their own home. The feeling of claustrophobia sets in, and Alice finds she doesn’t have much room to do anything on her own. Keep in mind that Carroll had a fear of Alice Liddell growing away from him as she herself grew older. This scene could be Carroll’s idea of keeping her at home, with him. It’s not much different nowadays either. Many kids want to go out and enjoy time with their friends, move away and go to college, etc… Most parents don’t want their kids leaving them, and instead want them to stay at home longer. There is also the idea of how Alice entered the home as a “servant” to the White Rabbit. She came in under rules and supervision, but in time she wants to get away from those things and become independent.
Also in the chapter, Alice exclaimed that it “much pleasanter at home.” Part of growing up is new beginnings and more freedoms, but once you have experienced those things, you miss how you used to live as a whole family. After that line, Alice talked about how it would still be interesting to live in Wonderland; she is curious about becoming more mature, but still talks about how maybe in Wonderland she won’t have to age and become an old woman. This is paradoxical, how Alice wishes to experience the grown up life, but wished to remain a child. My point is, Alice is stuck in a house.
6 Comments leave one →
  1. December 3, 2009 5:16 am

    I really love this, for many reasons. For one thing, I like how you “read between the lines”, I could not have found that in the text. Another thing, growing up is something that us kids cannot wait to do- first we’re a teenager, then we’re driving, then off to college. It may bring a tear to a parent’s eyes, but they know that we need to in order to become independent. Alice isn’t necesarrily be the age for leaving home (Carroll penned her to be around 7 in the story), but, as you said, “Carroll’s idea of keeping her at home, with him”. Excellent Job!

  2. December 3, 2009 2:11 am

    Well done! I like this, the point you’ve made. I agree, Alice seems to be stuck in this house and wants to get out but she can’t, not yet. Like a lot of teenagers we want to get out of our home, but we’re not allowed, we’ve still got work to do before we can go. I also like how you mentioned that Carroll was worried of when Alice Liddell would grow older and possibly leave. Parents all fear the day their “babies” leave, and do what they can to keep us under their supervision until they’re ready to let go. Also, when Alice is too big for the house it reminds me of when kids become too old for their parents and the way they took care of us before no longer works. We all want to grow older, and that last stretch to freedom seems the longest and toughest.

  3. Carl K. permalink
    December 2, 2009 7:35 am

    I really like your perspective of this scene. I probably would have never looked at it in this way. Back in Carroll’s era, girls were likely to be considered as ladies, or young women, when they came of the age of around 13 or 15. So while Carroll was writing this story, he must have paused for a moment and pondered what was to happen to little Alice when she came of age? He was in fear of losing her, as child, and becoming an independent person. All Carroll wanted was for Alice to close him. And so thats where your point comes in. Alice was growing up (in a metaphorical sense) in a rapid pace, and Carroll didn’t like that, so he intentionally shrank her back down so she wouldn’t escape. To put it an analytical nutshell, Carroll saw that Alice was growing up to fast, and he thought that it was much too soon for her, so he kept a close watch over her, hoping to catch her last moments as a child.

    And by the way, I like yours, and Miles’, reference about the parent-child relationship. We’re all starting to come of age now. Everyone is now driving, people have been dating for some time now, and in a couple, fast years, we’re off to college! Our parents need to realized that we’re not their little child anymore, even if they still believe it. We’re becoming wiser and more independent by the minute, which means we don’t need to rely as much on them anymore. That’s the main focus point for us, as 10th graders, from this scene.

  4. Miles W III permalink
    December 2, 2009 4:54 am

    I really liked reading this post. Alice is experiencing the typical wavering that many people go through as they grow. The story shows a great point. The fact that growing can hold you back. As Alice grows she’s kept in the house. This parallels the fact that most parents become worried about their children as they become older. They fear us becoming more interested more in drugs, alcohol, and sex and this sometimes takes away privileges and other rights. As we become older we do get stuck in a house.

  5. Kathy B. permalink
    November 28, 2009 4:38 pm

    I love the ideas you presented in this blog; I never really thought of it in that way, but I think you’re onto something. The idea of Alice having grown to such point that she cannot leave the house (and being very unhappy about it) possibly representing Alice Liddell truly growing up and maturing and wanting to leave the house as all children eventually do is a very keen analysis. As young adults, we often feel very confined by our parents, school, rules, regulations, curfews, deadlines, expectations, pressure, limitations, and even the walls of our own home. We can’t wait to spread our wings and go off by ourselves, trying to find our place in the world without training wheels to guide us. However, at the same time, we usually do have that part of us that is afraid. What happens when those training wheels go off? What if we fail? Who will be there to catch us when we fall?

    It’s like when Alice says she wants nothing more than to go home, but then there is the “and yet…” part. There’s always an “and yet”, a reservation, about doing something new or taking a risk, especially if you’re doing it on your own. It wouldn’t be exciting if there wasn’t some level of risk involved. You wouldn’t feel as proud of yourself for having succeeded if you did not recognize and fear that risk from the beginning.

    I think, if Carroll truly was using her size changes and being stuck in a house metaphorically as you have said, these are all of the things he must’ve taken into account (and, of course, as you brought up, the fact that he really did not want Alice Liddell to grow up and leave him, but he knew it was inevitable). If he was so close to young Alice, then he probably did know of, or at least could have imagined, her feelings toward growing up and moving out of the house, and so your ideas about what the scene in the story represents are very valid and plausible.

  6. Kristen K permalink
    November 16, 2009 5:45 pm

    The ideas you presented in your post are very plausible. I especially like the comparison between the larger-than-life Alice in the house and a young adult that feels confined in their parent’s house. The concept that Carroll wanted to keep Alice as she grew older is intriguing as well. Did he do this by accident? The annotations regarding size change speculate that perhaps Carroll unconsciously made Alice change size to symbolize the difference between child-Alice Liddell and adult-Alice Liddell she would soon become (p. 17). However, this particular size change in which she outgrows the house could mean more than that, as your entry states. But something that interests me is the fact that in the story, Alice is very uncomfortable in the undersized house. Did Carroll realize then that Alice would be very uncomfortable if he tried to keep her as she grew?

    If I were Alice, I certainly would not be at home in an undersized house, let alone with a much older man.

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