Alice in Wonderland
Lewis Carroll
Contributed by Sharon Fleming
Chapter 2

Suddenly, the “EAT ME” cake makes Alice grow so tall she can barely see the doorway to the garden, let alone pass through it. Frustrated, Alice starts to cry, and her large teardrops form a pool of water at her feet. Then the White Rabbit appears, talking to himself about keeping the Duchess waiting. When Alice attempts to speak to the White Rabbit, he dashes off again, leaving behind a glove and a fan.

Alice picks up the fan and uses it, thinking that she might have transformed into a different person altogether. To reclaim her identity, Alice recites her lessons only to find she confuses them. As a result, she starts to think she has turned into a girl named Mabel, who does cannot remember her lessons well. Alice decides that, if she is Mabel, she does not need to exit the hole or rejoin society. Despite her identity crisis, Alice wants to find a way out of her bleak situation.

Then Alice notices that the fanning motion causes her to shrink, so she continues doing it, hoping to become small enough to fit through the garden door. However, yet again, Alice forgets the door key that remains on the shelf above her head. Before she can resolve this predicament, she stumbles and falls into the sea. She realizes the sea is a pool of her giant tears that fell to the ground when she cried.

As she treads water, Alice encounters a Mouse and asks it for help. When she realizes the Mouse cannot understand her, Alice attempts to speak to it in French. She recites one of her French lessons about cats. Upon mention of the word “cat,” the Mouse reacts with fear. Alice follows the Mouse, attempting to apologize to it, but she winds up talking absentmindedly about her cat, Dinah. Upset, the Mouse swims away. Alice calls back to the Mouse, promising not to talk about cats or dogs if it returns to her. The Mouse agrees and swims back to Alice, commanding her to go to the banks to listen to a story. After a while, a group of animals — including the Dodo, Lory, and an eagle — join Alice and the Mouse as they swim toward the shore.


Alice’s initial exposure to Wonderland forces her to confront unfamiliar experiences in an unusual environment. The stress and discomfort she undergoes prompt her to have an identity crisis, in which she feels so disconnected from her body that she believes she has turned into another person. From the moment Alice lands from falling down the rabbit hole, it becomes apparent that she cannot control her surroundings. It is also apparent, through her anguished reaction to this reality, that Alice has exercised control over her surroundings in the past. She is simply not used to being in a strange place. Although escaping normalcy is exactly what Alice wanted, she struggles to accept the nonsensical nature of Wonderland.

In Chapter Two, Alice’s greatest problem is her inability to control her emotions. Although she possesses the intellect and drive to solve her problems, Alice responds to frustration with tears. In fact, she cries so much that her tears create a sea — another obstacle — in which she must swim. Alice’s tendency to volley between reasonable action and emotional reaction leads to unproductive dithering. She cannot accomplish her goal of getting through the garden’s door because she is too upset. It remains to be seen whether Alice can control her emotions enough to think clearly and handle difficulty with grace. For the time being, however, Alice seems ill-equipped for an adventure in Wonderland.

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