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)
Indeed, she had quite a long argument with the Lory, who at last turned sulky, and would only say "I'm older than you, and must know better." And this Alice would not allow, without knowing how old it was, and, as the Lory positively refused to tell its age, there was no more to be said. (Wonderland 3.2)
This is still a common argument of parents and older siblings – "I'm older than you, so I know better." But in this case, it's obvious that the Lory (a parody of real-life Alice Liddell's older sister Lorina) has just run out of good arguments, so it resorts to this lame one instead. In Wonderland, older does not mean wiser – sometimes it's exactly the opposite!
"But then," thought Alice, "shall I never get any older than I am now? That'll be a comfort, one way – never to be an old woman – but then – always to have lessons to learn! Oh, I shouldn't like that!" (Wonderland 4.10)
Perpetual youth is not only an impossibility, it doesn't even make practical sense. Would someone who was eternally young in body also be young in mind?
"You are old, Father William," the young man said,
"And your hair has become very white;
And yet you incessantly stand on your head –
Do you think, at your age, it is right?"
"In my youth," Father William replied to his son,
"I feared it might injure the brain;
But, now that I'm perfectly sure I have none,
Why, I do it again and again." (Wonderland 5, "You are old, Father William")
"You are old, Father William" parodies a famous didactic poem of the time that children had to memorize in school. In Lewis Carroll's Wonderland version, a son continually questions his father's physical prowess and stamina, suggesting that his father is an old man and ought to behave like one. But as Father William explains, there's no reason for him to act especially serious, dignified, or fragile in his old age. In fact, he's younger at heart than his son.