Sunday, October 18, 2009

Alice In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (finished)

I just finished Alice In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. I liked it very much.

Alice sees a rabbit who exclaims that he is late. Alice follows the rabbit into a rabbit hole where she falls for what seems like a very long time. Alice wonders if she will fall clear through the center of the earth. Inside the rabbit hole is a fantasy world where some of the most memorable characters in literature are introduced: such as the white rabbit, the Cheshire cat, the mad hatter (who is never called the mad hatter) and the queen of hearts.

Most people are familiar with the story due to the popularity of the Disney Movie. But most people, I would guess, haven't read the book for themselves. I have not until this month. It was difficult for me to read the book without picturing the Disney movie in my head, which in this case wasn't necessarily a bad thing. I think Disney did a great job with their movie.

The book was very well written. The book's pacing was fast; considering the time that it was written, it must have seemed like the pacing of the book was ridiculously fast.

Something that surprised me was that the long scenes in the movie or cartoon were only a page long in the book. Something else that surprised me was that Tweetledum and Tweetledee, Humpty Dumpty and the Jabberwock were not in this book (they are in Through the Looking Glass, the sequel to Alice in Wonderland, which I am reading right now).

I thought it was interesting that Alice haphazardly eats and drinks anything that she comes across. I didn't think anything of this when I was a kid, but as an adult, this seems really strange to me. If I was walking through West Philadelphia and I came upon a table with a bottle labeled drink me. I don't think I would be tempted, not even just a little bit. It would probably be malted liquor.

I was affected by two things in this book.

(1) Alice finds a door at the bottom of the rabbit hole. Through the door is a beautiful garden. but she can't get to it because she is too big to fit through the door. Later on, after she shrinks to a size where she can fit through the door, she finds that the door is locked and the key is on the top of the table and she is unable to reach it because she is too short. Isn't this always the way? The idea of this garden that I can't get to; looking towards something longingly but unable to get to it. How many times in my life have I felt this way? How many times have I looked at other couples and thought way can't my relationships look like that? How many times have I looked at friends and thought, why can't I have friends like that?

And then I would spend a lot of time trying to shape myself into something that will fit into that mold only to find that the door is locked and the key to me fitting in is still out of reach. Sadness.

(2) Alice is trying to play croquet with the queen but there seems to be no rules. The mallet is a flamingo and the ball is a hedgehog that always seems to move. It is frustrating to pretend that you are playing a game in elite society to find that it is ridiculous, that no one is following the rules, everyone is only pretending to.

I've felt this way a lot. Sometimes in school, I feel like Alice trying to play croquet. The context, the game, i.e. high school seems ridiculous. I'm trying to do something good (teaching) but it seems like no one else is following the rules, people are just pretending to. At times, I feel frustrated, thinking, "Why bother? No one is following the rules anyway! Why should I be the only one to hold students to a standard? Why should I be the only one to take away cell phones? Why am I the only one to enforce the rules?" I know, I know. First of all, I know that I'm not the only one, but it does certainly feel that way. And I know that I can only do what I can do and I need to stick to my convictions. It is hard nonetheless.

Overall, the book was good. It is a classic for a reason. It was very enjoyable.
The pacing was good.
The writing was good.
The story was outstanding.
I highly recommend this book to anyone of any age.

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