Study Guide

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass Wonderland, Chapter 4

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Wonderland, Chapter 4

The Rabbit Sends in a Little Bill

  • The White Rabbit comes slowly toward Alice, looking all around him for something he's lost and muttering to himself about this mysterious Duchess. Alice remembers the fan and gloves that he dropped earlier and starts looking for them herself, but they seem to have disappeared. In fact, everything is different – the hall full of doors and the glass table are gone.
  • The Rabbit notices Alice and, calling her "Mary Ann," orders her to go home and get him a new pair of gloves and a fan. Alice is so surprised and scared to be mistaken for his housemaid that she just runs off in the direction he points.
  • She quickly comes to a house that has the rabbit's name ("W. Rabbit") on a brass plate on the door. She goes in and makes her way upstairs.
  • As she does this, Alice thinks about how strange it is that she's taking orders from a rabbit, and she imagines how strange her life at home would be if her cat could order her around.
  • In one of the rooms upstairs, Alice finds a table with a selection of gloves and fans on it. She chooses one of each and gets ready to leave, but then she notices a bottle next to the mirror. The bottle doesn't have any label, but Alice drinks it anyway, wondering what will happen to her and hoping it will make her grow larger.
  • Her wish is granted – she starts growing right away, and soon her head hits the ceiling. She's too big to get out the door, but she keeps growing larger. She has to kneel, then lie down, then put one arm out the window and one foot up the chimney! Now she's stuck in the room, seemingly forever.
  • Alice starts weighing the pros and cons of her adventure in Wonderland. Back at home, she didn't change size and mice and rabbits didn't give her orders. But here, things are exciting and strange, like a fairy tale. She decides that a book should be written about her adventures and thinks she might write it herself when she grows up.
  • Then Alice realizes that she can never grow up because she's stuck in a room and can't get any larger. This makes her happy, because she'll never be an old woman. Then she worries that, if she remains a child, she'll always have to learn lessons – but then she thinks there's no room for textbooks in the house with her.
  • Alice hears the Rabbit call for her outside – it's still calling her "Mary Ann." She hears it come up the stairs and starts to shake with fear, forgetting how big she is.
  • The Rabbit tries to come into the room, but the door is pressed shut by Alice's elbow. The Rabbit says to himself that he'll go around and come in the window. Alice waits until she hears him and then makes a snatch with her hand. Frightened, the Rabbit falls into some cucumber-frames (mini-greenhouse-like things in the garden outside).
  • The Rabbit calls for help from someone called Pat, who is apparently the gardener. (Since Alice is stuck in the room and can't see him, we don't know what he looks like.) The Rabbit shows Pat the giant arm stuck in his window and orders him to take it away. Pat doesn't really know what to do.
  • Alice makes another snatch with her hand, and the Rabbit and Pat both fall into cucumber-frames. There's lots of broken glass.
  • Then Alice hears a bunch of noises – a cart arriving and voices discussing ladders, ropes and the roof. The voices decide that Bill, whoever that is, has to go down the chimney.
  • Alice prepares for Bill by pulling her foot as far up the chimney as she can. When she hears Bill scrabbling around in it, she gives a kick.
  • Outside, all the voices cry, "There goes Bill!" The animals retrieve Bill, give him some brandy, and ask him what happened. He says he doesn't really know – something just came at him and shot him out the chimney.
  • The White Rabbit suggests burning the house down, and Alice says loudly that she'll set Dinah on them if they try it.
  • There is a long silence, and then Alice hears the animals decide on a barrowful of something. Just as she's wondering what, a bunch of pebbles come in the window and smack her in the face. She shouts at them to stop.
  • Strangely, the pebbles turn into little cakes. Alice decides that eating them will probably make her change sizes, like everything else she's eaten in Wonderland so far. Since she's already as big as she can be in the room, she decides the cakes will make her smaller. She starts eating them.
  • Soon Alice is the right size to get out of the house. She runs out and sees a crowd of animals, including Bill, who is a lizard. The animals rush toward Alice, but she runs away into a wood.
  • Alone in the wood, Alice makes a plan: she's going to get back to her correct size, then find the beautiful garden that she saw through the tiny door. Unfortunately, she doesn't have a clue how to do either of these things.
  • While she's wandering around in the woods, Alice finds an enormous puppy. Well, actually the puppy is normal size, but Alice is only a few inches tall. The puppy tries to play with Alice, who is afraid it might try to eat her.
  • Using a little stick, Alice plays with the puppy until it's tired. The whole time, she's afraid that it will trample her, but finally it lies down panting with its eyes closed.
  • Alice goes away quickly before the puppy gets its energy back. She starts looking for something to eat or drink to make herself change size again. She finds a large mushroom nearby. Getting up on tiptoe, she peeks over the top of it and discovers a large blue caterpillar smoking a hookah (a fancy kind of pipe that filters the smoke through water).

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