Here's where it all begins. Alice is drowsy and can't decide what to do, and an adventure comes along and sweeps her up!
In the tradition of all good quest narratives, Alice has somewhere that she wants to reach – a beautiful garden full of greenery, flowers, and fountains. Of course, she can't get into it right away, or we wouldn't have a story to read.
Not just one but many complications come between Alice and the beautiful garden. First, she falls into a pool of her own tears and gets involved in a "Caucus-race" with a Mouse and a group of birds and other animals. Then, she gets mistaken for the White Rabbit's maid, tries to do an errand, and ends up stuck in the Rabbit's house. She escapes, only to encounter the Caterpillar and find a way to change sizes. Next, it's on to the pepper-filled house of the Duchess and the Mad Tea Party. It's just one thing after another, and soon the complications start to seem more interesting than the goal of the journey!
There's not much to explain with this one: Alice achieves the goal that she set for herself at the beginning of the adventure and is finally the right size, in the right place, and with the right key to get into the beautiful garden. There's an anachronistic video game feel to this climax – Alice had to collect the right tools (pieces of the mushroom and the little golden key) and then bring them back to the right place in order to get to the next "level," as it were.
Once Alice makes it into the garden, she's not really able to enjoy herself. She protects some foolish gardeners from the bloodthirsty Queen of Hearts, only to end up involved in a croquet game in which all the pieces are alive. After a detour with the Gryphon, she attends a trial, and things seem to be getting serious.
Just as we think that Alice is going to be held in contempt of court or beheaded, she begins to grow back to her regular size. As she grows, she realizes that the fantastic world around her is no more or less than a card game, and the creatures she has met are (mostly) simple playing cards. The danger isn't serious – it isn't even real!
This is one of those books where you find out at the end that it was all a dream. What's interesting, however, is that Alice's sister picks up on the dream and starts imagining the characters herself, causing the story to live on in more than one memory.
With the snow outside, Alice is cooped up in the house playing with her cats, trying to find a way to amuse herself. Knowing Alice, it won't take long for her imagination to find a path to a new adventure.
Once again, the "conflict" that Alice faces is a journey – she needs to get somewhere, this time to the eighth square of the chess board. As in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, the goal isn't imposed on her, but something that she chooses to do. She asks the Red Queen if she can be a player in the chess game, and she accepts her goal with relish. So even though there's a conflict of sorts here (Alice against everything and everyone that stands in her way), it's a friendly, jolly conflict, and we don't think she'll have much trouble winning.
The complications come thick and fast; in fact, we could describe this plot as "episodic," since each adventure seems to be self-contained and separate from the others. First, Alice finds herself on a strange train, then among a group of weird insects. Her other adventures include a meeting with Tweedledum and Tweedledee, a shopping trip with a sheep, a conversation with Humpty Dumpty, a meal with the Lion and the Unicorn, and a ringside seat at a knights' joust.
Shepherded along by the White Knight, Alice makes it safely to the eighth square, where she finds a crown on her head. Everything seems to be over, since she has finally become a Queen. But then…
The Red and White Queens appear on either side of Alice and begin quizzing her on all sorts of things, including math and cooking. Unfortunately, the answers they're expecting in this makeshift final exam are just as strange as Looking-Glass World itself. Will Alice pass their test and get to attend her coronation?
Finally, Alice does become a Queen, and all the creatures she's met in her travels attend a feast in her honor. However, nobody gets much to eat, since the Red Queen insists on introducing Alice to each dish as it comes along.
When Alice gets tired of her adventure, she starts shaking the Red Queen by the shoulders – only to discover that the Red Queen is really her black kitten. This transfiguration is one of many as Looking-Glass World melts around her and Alice returns to the hearth in her home. But now she has to wonder: which world is more real? Was Looking-Glass World a dream of her own, or did the Red King dream her?