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Go Ask Alice

Anonymous

July 27—Epilogue

Undated (July)

Important Quotations Explained

Summary

(July 27–29) Alice tries to pray but feels the words are false and meaningless. She yearns for death. She starts going to school at the Youth Center, which is a relief compared to her room. Life in the asylum is draining her in all ways, as it has already done for Babbie. (July 31) She listens to other kids in a group therapy session, which she finds helpful. A leader of the session, a fellow inmate, assures Alice that it's all right to be scared but that she should share her fears with others. She aspires to join the Group One kids, who have more privileges and freedom from the hospital.

(Aug. 1) Alice's mother and father visit. They still believe her story, and will try and get Jan to retract her statement indicting Alice. (Aug. 2) Dr. Miller believes Alice, too, and encourages her to talk to the other kids in preparation for being a social worker. She hopes to get Babbie, who is aiming for a foster home, to read. (Aug. 3) She talks to a boy about his progressively harmful experiences with drugs and notices that he still gets a "contact high" from simply discussing drugs, as does another girl. (Aug. 4) A girl proposes that she and Alice flee the asylum and go back on drugs.

(Aug. 5) Another visit from Alice's parents brings a long letter from Joel. Her father reports that Jan has retracted her statement, and they're trying to get the other girl to do the same, in which case Alice will be let out soon. Joel's warm letter makes her excited to see him again. (Aug. 8) Alice finds out she's going home tomorrow. She is ecstatic but admits that the asylum was not as bad as detention school would have been. She also feels guilty about abandoning Babbie.

(Aug. 9) Alice returns home and is happy to be with her family. (Aug. 10) She prays to God not only for helping her, but to help Jan and the other girl. (Aug. 14) On a trip with her family (her father is going to guest-lecture at a university for two weeks), Alice thinks that Joel is the only good thing in her life and decides to abstain from sex until she's married. (Aug. 17–24) Alice enjoys staying at the university until she stumbles into some poison ivy. (Aug. 27-Sept. 2) The family takes a trip to hot New York, but their plans to go to Chicago to visit Joel are derailed when Alice's father is called back to the university.

(Sept. 6–10) At home, Alice is invited to go swimming by Fawn, a "straight" kid. Alice is insecure around Fawn and her friends, even though they seem to like her. She has a fun time with them and hopes they haven't heard stories about her. (Sept. 16) Alice's old piano teacher wants her to be a soloist at special recital. Alice is enthused but unsure. (Sept. 19) She has a great time at a party thrown by Fawn but realizes she will have to be honest with Fawn about her past before Fawn hears it from somewhere else.

(Sept. 20) Alice gives her father a sweater and a poem by her for his birthday. Joel surprises her by showing up and kisses her on the lips in front of her family. He gives her a friendship ring, which she vows to wear her whole life. (Sept. 21) Alice is worried about starting school again but feels stronger with the support of her new friends and Joel. She comments that she no longer needs a diary, for she now has people in her life with whom she can communicate.

In the epilogue, we are told that Alice died three weeks later of an overdose—whether it was premeditated or accidental remains unclear—and that she was one of thousands of drug deaths that year.

Analysis

Communication is the great salvation in this section. Even in the asylum, the ability to communicate to others in group therapy helps the inmates better understand themselves. As the therapy leader puts it, when thoughts are kept inside they are "magnified" and "distorted." Even facts, it seems, can be distorted; as Alice admits, her promiscuity is distorted, since she's never had sex without being high. Alice's reservations about prying into the kids' lives are signs that she will make a good social worker. She understands that an important part of communication is recognizing that it is difficult and that one must respect the difficulty others have in sharing what they may be ashamed of or frightened by. The only way to get through this, as Alice finds, is by taking little steps of trust, as she has in talking with Joel and as she will with Fawn. By the end of her diary, she recognizes that, while knowing oneself is good, one must take that knowledge and share it with others. Opening up to others is the only way to defeat her gnawing sense of loneliness and her fear of worms and maggots eating dead bodies (and her body), which symbolize, among other things, the loneliness of having no one know what is happening in your mind.

Not everyone is cured and not only because they haven't run the horrific gauntlet Alice has—many of them have—but because they are numbed, robotically accepting their station as addicts. Many fit the second category of kids who have identity problems (as determined by the article Alice reads)—those who have had to make too many decisions before they're ready—and, as a result, take drugs to become the type who don't have to make any decisions. Alice believes she's in neither category, presumably because she came from a stable middle-class home, but the line she continually walked between childhood and adulthood is becoming easier to define. Her choices, like the one to open up to Fawn, are more premeditated and responsible, and she has opened her emotional horizons. Whereas before she felt guilty for the pain she caused others, she now feels bad for those she simply cannot help, like Babbie, or even Jan. Alice's great ability to communicate with herself through her writing has blossomed and affected her relationships with others. If she cannot communicate just yet with them, then she can at least better empathize with them. If not for her death, we can safely assume she would have made an excellent social worker whose suffering had a purpose.

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Alice

by catsarecoolio, December 19, 2013

Alice isn't the name of the character, 'Go Ask Alice' is a lyric from a song called 'White Rabbit'.

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