Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass
by Lewis Carroll
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass Youth Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Book.Chapter.Paragraph)
"Well, she has the same awkward shape as you," the Rose said: "but she's redder – and her petals are shorter, I think."
"They're done up close, like a dahlia," said the Tiger-lily: "not tumbled about, like yours."
"But that's not your fault," the Rose added kindly. "You're beginning to fade, you know – and then one can't help one's petals getting a little untidy." (Looking-Glass 2.33-35)
The living flowers interpret Alice as too old, suggesting that extreme youth is the best state for people and that the onset of puberty will put her past her prime. But this interpretation is based on their misunderstanding of what type of being Alice really is, which implies that they're wrong about her fading.
"It's a great huge game of chess that's being played – all over the world --- if this is the world at all, you know. Oh, what fun it is! How I wish I was one of them! I wouldn't mind being a Pawn, if only I might join – though of course I should like to be a Queen, best."
She glanced rather shyly at the real Queen as she said this, but her companion only smiled pleasantly, and said "That's easily managed. You can be the White Queen's Pawn, if you like, as Lily's too young to play; and you're in the Second Square to begin with: when you get to the Eighth Square, you'll be a Queen – " (Looking-Glass 2.61-62)
Alice is young, but she's still old enough to play in the chess game, in contrast with the unseen Lily. Nothing makes Alice prouder than being told she's old enough for the game. Her youth is precious, but it's also important to have a certain degree of maturity.
"Seven years and six months!" Humpty Dumpty repeated thoughtfully. "An uncomfortable sort of age. Now if you'd asked my advice, I'd have said 'Leave off at seven' – but it's too late now."
"I never ask advice about growing," Alice said indignantly.
"Too proud?" the other enquired.
Alice felt even more indignant at this suggestion. "I mean," she said, "that one can't help growing older."
"One can't, perhaps," said Humpty Dumpty; "but two can. With proper assistance, you might have left off at seven." (Looking-Glass 6.30-34)
Humpty Dumpty wants to keep Alice young – her aging bothers him, and he suggests that, at seven and a half, she's already over the hill. We as readers, like Alice, are irritated by this suggestion – she can't stop herself from getting older, and why should she want to, anyway? Of course, there is one solution to the problem of aging: death. But that seems, well, a bit too extreme, doesn't it?