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Jabberwocky

Jabberwocky

by Lewis Carroll

Stanza 5 Summary

Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.

Lines 17-18

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!

  • These are straight action lines here. And it's exciting, hence all the exclamation points. This is high adventure, told in an excited manner.
  • The "One, two! One two!" bit seems to mimic a swinging motion, almost like a one-two punch but with a sword. We can picture the hero, here, swinging his sword quickly back and forth.
  • The "through and through" part tells us that the blade is in fact making contact with the Jabberwocky. We can almost see the blade passing through the creature again and again. (Try not to imagine the gore too vividly.)
  • These lines end with a bit of onomatopoeia. Look in the "Sound Check" for more of an explanation, but basically it's a word that sounds like its definition. So in this case, "snicker-snack!" seems to imitate the whistle of the blade through the air ("snicker") and then the blade connecting with its target ("snack!" which sounds a bit like "whack!").
  • These hearty motion words and onomatopoeia give these lines a very action-movie feel to them. The plot is rushing past us, and all we see is a blur of motion, and a flickering blade. All we hear is the sound of metal meeting flesh.

Lines 19-20

He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back
.

  • The fight ends quickly and decisively, it seems.
  • The Jabberwocky is both dead and beheaded.
  • Why take the head? Well, this is a tradition that extends from ancient to modern times. (Certainly we've all seen trophy deer/moose/bear heads on hunting cabin walls, and this is probably no different.) It's proof that the animal has been conquered, and a memento for a job well done (at least according to the hunter).
  • Our hero takes the head and goes galumphing back. This word has made it into the English dictionary, and means "to move heavily." This makes a lot of sense; if you were carrying a giant dragon-ish head all the way back to your house, after a big fight, you'd probably move pretty heavily too.

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