In Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass, events often happen backwards. When Alice meets Tweedledee and Tweedledum, a song plays over and over in her head. The song describes a battle between Tweedledee and Tweedledum after Tweedledum accuses Tweedledum of ruining his "nice new rattle." However, a large crow "as black as a tar-barrel" interrupts their battle. The crow scares the brothers so much that they "quite forgot their quarrel"(160). At first, it is unclear to the reader whether or not this battle has occurred already. Toward to the end of the chapter, the reader realizes the song's lyrics portray yet another event in Wonderland that happens backwards.

As the forest grows dark, Alice decides she should leave Tweedledee and Tweedledum. Just as she prepares to bid them farewell, Tweedledum stumbled upon an old, mangled rattle under a tree. Alice does not understand what significance this broken rattle could possibly hold for Tweedledum. Tweedledum blames the broken rattle on Tweedledum, and they prepare, with Alice's help, to battle each other. As they decide on the details of the battle, Alice wishes the crow would arrive because she does not want to see them fight.

"There's only one sword, you know," Tweedledum said to his brother: "but you can have the umbrella — it's quite as sharp. Only we must begin quick. It's getting as dark as it can."

"And darker," said Tweedledee.

It was getting dark so suddenly that Alice thought there must be a thunderstorm coming on. "What a thick black cloud that is!" she said. "And how fast it comes! Why, I do believe it's got wings!"

It was getting dark so suddenly that Alice thought there must be a thunderstorm coming on. “What a thick black cloud that is!” she said. “And how fast it comes! Why, I do believe it’s got wings!” [p.171]

As Alice ponders what the "black cloud" could be, Tweedledum suddenly yells, "It's the crow!"(171) in a terrified voice. Then he and Tweedledee run as fast as they can away, their fight forgotten, just as the song predicted. Alice, after feeling sure of her safety from the great bird, then goes on another adventure, baffling the reader with her lack of thought about the odd events that have just happened.

Questions

1. Why does Alice hear the song before the events actually come to pass?

2. What is the significance of the crow?

3. Why does Alice not connect the actual events with the song until she sees Tweedledee and Tweedledum preparing to fight?

4. Why does Alice not question the song's telling of the future?

5. Is Carroll attempting to comment on Fate with the story of Tweedledee and Tweedledum's thwarted fight?


Victorian Web Overview Lewis Carroll Leading Questions

Last modified 22 March 2004