Alice begins her adventures in wonderland when she chases a rabbit down his hole, which she does not realize is in fact a magic doorway to a strange new world. Boredom drove Alice to follow the White Rabbit in the first place, since her circumstances in the real world were tiresome to her. However, unlike most fantasy novels, in which the author introduces the real or normal world before moving on to the fantasy setting, Lewis Carroll spends exactly two sentences in the normal world before diving into the strange fantasy kingdom of Wonderland.

Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, "and what is the use of a book" thought Alice, "with no pictures or conversations?" [p. 1]

As Alice lay on the bank, "feeling very sleepy and stupid" and, "considering. . .whether the pleasure of making a daisy-chain would be worth the trouble of getting up and picking the daisies" when the White Rabbit appears. Carrol gives us only this brief description before he plunges us into his bizarre fantasy world, and this rapid, helter skelter approach sets the tone for the rest of the novel.

Questions

1. What effect does the run on nature of Carroll's first two sentences have on the following narrative, and why did he chose to use that sentence structure?

2. Does the fact that we are forced to get to know Alice outside of the context of her normal life have any bearing on how we come to perceive her as a character?

3. Is Carroll attempting to make an ideological or political statement by his attention to the fact that the book Alice and her sister are reading "has no pictures or conversations", and is therefore perceived as worthless by Alice?


Victorian Web Overview Lewis Carroll Leading Questions

Last modified 23 March 2004