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Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass

by Lewis Carroll

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass Looking-Glass, Chapter 1 Summary

Looking-Glass House

  • The narrator begins by telling us that "it" – whatever "it" is – is the fault of the black kitten, not the white one. The white one has been having its face washed by the old cat and couldn't be responsible.
  • "It" turns out to be the unwinding of an enormous ball of yarn that Alice spent a long time winding up earlier, before taking a nap.
  • Alice catches the black kitten and scolds it. Holding and talking to the kitten, she begins winding up the yarn again.
  • Alice tells the kitten that there is going to be a bonfire tomorrow. Then she tries winding yarn around the kitten's neck, but the kitten doesn't like this.
  • Alice begins wondering aloud about punishment, since she's been thinking about how she needs to punish the kitten. She's been saving the kitten's punishments for all the naughty things it does, and she wonders what it would be like if her nurse and parents saved all her punishments up for the end of a year.
  • Looking outside, Alice watches the snow fall and admires the winter landscape.
  • Alice asks the kitten if it can play chess. She thinks maybe it can, because it seems to look very intently at the pieces when Alice is playing. She pretends that the kitten is the Red Queen, since it looks a little bit like that piece.
  • The kitten won't cooperate with Alice's attempts to fold its paws in the position of the Red Queen's arms. She holds it up to the mirror over the fireplace as a punishment and threatens to put it through into Looking-Glass House.
  • Alice tells the kitten what she imagines about Looking-Glass House, the backwards version of her own house that she can see in the mirror. She longs to get through the mirror and explore the parts of it that aren't visible.
  • Alice tells the kitten that they'll pretend the glass is going soft like gauze and they're going through. And then it actually happens! Alice (without the kitten) makes it through the mirror and into Looking-Glass World.
  • Alice jumps off the mantelpiece into the room and begins exploring. The parts of the room that she couldn't see in the mirror are the most exciting and strange.
  • Looking at the hearth, Alice notices that the chess pieces have come to life and are walking around in the cinders. She gets on her hands and knees to watch them, discovering that she is invisible to them.
  • One of the White Pawns on the table has a fit, crying and screaming. The White Queen tries to get back to it but has trouble climbing up the table. Alice picks her up and puts her beside her daughter.
  • The Queen is startled but eventually recovers her breath and warns the White King that there is a volcano nearby that might blow up to the table. Alice picks up the White King and puts him onto the table also, pausing to dust him off with her hand, since he's covered in cinders.
  • The White King is deeply shocked by the experience of being lifted and dusted by an invisible hand. He decides to make a memorandum of his experience in his notebook so that he won't forget about it, but when he takes out his book and pencil Alice holds onto the end of it and writes her own memorandum.
  • Next, Alice sees a book lying on the table. She opens it, only to discover that all the words are printed backwards. She holds it up to the mirror and reads it in the reflection.
  • Verse Alert: Alice reads a poem from the book called "Jabberwocky." We have a lot to say about this poem, so go check it out in the poetry section.
  • Alice doesn't really understand the poem, but decides to leave the house and explore. She rushes out of the room, floats down the stairs, and heads out the door.

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