Alice in Puberty

While Alice’s Adventures in wonderland may be a wonderful tale written simply for the entertainment of the real-world alice, it should be firmly established by now that it can be seen as much more than that. We have talked about whether children are better than adults, or adults are simply mere children, and on why one is superior to another. But the most obvious stage in between child and adult, the one representing both childhood innocence and adult rationale, we have not talked about.

If Carroll makes such strong statements about childhood and adulthood, it would definitely make sense for him to mention the fusion of the two. Thus he makes alice grow and shrink as he pleases. What better than a quick burst of growth to 9 feet to represent the physical changes during puberty? Now “to get through was more hopeless than ever”. Growing up marks the end to Alice’s attempts to get through this door to the wonderland, the place of new ideas and uncounted wonders. By now she can barely set sight under the door, the infernal entrance that blocks all her possibilities of entering wonderland.

But, of course, physical appearances are not all that Carroll is wanting to probe. Yes, the fact that she is to tall, to old if you will, to progress further down the rabbit hole makes a strong statement in itself, but that is not all that is to puberty, to growing up. Along with the physical change come emotional reactions. Alice begins to cry a great deal after she grew. She cries because what was previously possible is now closed to her. While we grow up we want to be done with it. We want to get high-school over with. We try to escape our daily worries, our parents and all of the rest.

While growing, we are unsure of what we are, like Alice who asks for the nature of existence and who she really is. We must identify ourselves with something, else we know neither our place nor what we should do. Alice experiences something similar. She identifies herself with what she knows, or rather what she used to know and has now changed. From the multiplication table perceived in different bases (something I was very disappointed to see mentioned in the notes, if simply for the reason that it was my first idea of writing a blog post after reading chapter two) to her distorted sense of Geography, she, along with what she knows, has changed. With her growing, her perception of the world has changed.

But Alice is also saddened by her growth. Once she has completed growth she, as so many adults, wishes herself back to her smaller size, if only to pass through the door. And here we see Carroll’s primary warning to Alice, and to us. When we begin to age, we must not forget at what price. We adopt adulthood and rationale at the price of our youth and our old beliefs. Instead of wishing to grow up, why do we not enjoy what is current. Similarly he addresses the adult readers by showing that while they may have it worse in many a way, they are intellectually superior to children.  However, it also draws a line in between the one and the other, that distinguishes in between adults and children. While they may have elements of the other within themselves, which must be cherished to achieve a balanced existence, they are distinct beings.

The theme of growing up has too many aspects to ever be covered fully in a blog entry that addresses today’s generation and their short attention spans (my 630 words are already pushing it). As illustrated above, however, Carroll does make statements about both child and adulthood, and especially the transition in between.

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