Study Guide

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

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The Caterpillar

Character in: Wonderland

The Caterpillar is the first character who really makes an effort to guide Alice on her journey. Since she's tired of growing larger and smaller due to circumstances beyond her control, the Caterpillar teaches her to eat parts of the mushroom to control her size. Some critics, and especially people in popular culture, see the Caterpillar as a representative of drug culture, since he's smoking a hookah and shows Alice how to eat a magic mushroom. But we prefer to see the Caterpillar as a lackadaisical guru who helps Alice figure out how to control the imaginative world that she's exploring. The Caterpillar also reminds Alice that changing in size and shape isn't always a bad thing – after all, one day the Caterpillar will metamorphose into a butterfly, and instead of being unnerving, it will be the high point of his life!

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