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Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

by: Lewis Carroll

Important Quotations Explained

1. “Who in the world am I?” Ah, that’s the great puzzle.

Alice asks this question of herself in Chapter 2 of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, just after she has grown to a giant size and frightened the White Rabbit away. Alice realizes that she is not just trying to figure out Wonderland, but also attempting to determine who she is and what constitutes her identity in a world that actively challenges her perspective and sense of self. Wonderland has already begun to affect Alice, and she rightly understands that her self perception cannot remain fixed in a world that has drastically different rules from her own. In Wonderland, Alice has a slippery grasp of her identity. Since Wonderland is a byproduct of her own imagination, it becomes clear that it is Alice’s identity and not Wonderland itself that is being called into question. The nonsensical features and characters that make up Wonderland extend from Alice’s own psyche, so her quest to understand Wonderland becomes a quest to understand the forces and feelings that comprise her identity. The idea of the great puzzle also supports Carroll’s notion that life is an unduly complicated mystery that human beings must use rational thought and intelligence to understand.