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Go Ask Alice

Anonymous

Jan. 1–July 14

Sept. 16–Dec. 25

July 20—Sept. 10

Summary

(Jan. 1) Alice writes that she left a New Year's party the previous night because the boys were getting too drunk and wild. She is excited for the family's move in two days but confides to her diary her fears of not adjusting to life in a new place. (Jan. 4–6) The family arrives, but the move has been complicated and temporarily sinks spirits. After settling in, Alice changes her mind about the house and finds it beautiful. She is worried about school, which starts today. Her younger brother, Tim, and younger sister, Alexandria, have both met friends in the neighborhood, and Alice envies them and pities herself. She resolves to put on a cheery disposition. School turns out to be a disaster as no one speaks to Alice. She realizes that she probably treated new kids at her school the same way before and feels that she is getting her just desserts.

(Jan. 7) The rest of the family has adapted well to their new surroundings, but Alice still feels like an outsider. She wonders how, in a family of outgoing people, she always manages to feel distanced from others. (Jan. 14) School progresses, though no one has yet approached Alice, and she has gained weight, although she says she doesn't care. (Feb. 8) Alice's appearance is growing more unkempt, despite her mother's urgings to smile and be friendly. She feels like more of a social outcast and is frustrated with everyone and everything around her. (Mar. 18) Alice meets a friend at school, Greta, whom Alice finds is as much an awkward, unattractive person as herself. She believes her family is ashamed of Alice and Greta's friendship.

(Apr. 10–May 2) Alice's mother has promised Alice she can spend the summer at her grandmother's, provided she get her grades up. Alice is elated and plans to diet. Still, her relationship with her family grows more strained, especially with her siblings. (May 13–22) Alice meets Beth, a Jewish girl down the block. Alice is curious about her religion but finds that the two are more similar than she'd thought. She feels that her friendship with Greta was not based on anything substantial. Alice laments that she and her mother can no longer talk as they used to. Nevertheless, her parents approve of Beth. (May 24–June 15) Alice finds she can talk about anything with Beth, even Judaism but regrets not knowing more about her own religion. Beth tells her that, in Judaism, if the bride is shown not to be a virgin, the groom does not have to marry her. Neither of them knows how one might prove this. Beth relates her nightmares about this happening to her at her wedding. With school over, she and Beth go on a double date with two Jewish boys, but Alice finds that, despite his polite showing before her parents, her date is "all hands" in the car.

(June 18–25) Beth leaves for a Jewish summer camp, which devastates both girls who feel like they are the only ones who understand each other. (July 2—8) At her grandmother's, Alice is bored and wants to leave. In town with her grandfather, she runs into an old acquaintance, Jill, who was always more popular than Alice. The next day she invites Alice to a party at her house. (July 10) Alice attends the party and immediately feels welcome among the guests. They play a game that involves, unbeknownst to Alice, randomly dropping the hallucinogenic drug LSD in several of the soda bottles. Alice turns out to be one of the recipients of the drugged drinks and experiences an ecstatic, uninhibited drug trip. When she learns what happened afterward, she is happy about the experience but vows not to do drugs again.

(July 13–14) Alice tries to punish herself emotionally for taking LSD, yet she is curious to try marijuana. She decides to ask Jill to get her some. Now that her diary mentions illicit behavior, she says she will need to lock it up. On the way to the library to research drugs, she runs into Bill, the boy who "baby-sat" her during her acid trip. He is going to take her out tonight. She compares her voyage into the new world of drugs to Alice in Wonderland and wonders if Lewis Carroll took drugs.

Analysis

Alice goes through a number of social changes in this half-year, and her instability helps explain her curiosity for drugs by the end. She is an outsider in all walks of life, most importantly in her family. Her father's rising stature at the university, her family's shame over her friendship with Greta, and even Alice's appearance—Tim makes fun of her "hippie" hair—exposes Alice's growing alienation from the family's middle-class values. Her friendship with Beth is an attempt (albeit a sincere one) to fit into their conventional mold. In her discussions with Beth about Judaism, Alice's ignorance of her own religion hints at another cause of her alienation. Nevertheless, her lack of religion and the less sheltered, more disillusioned life she leads because of it, helps her remain aware of the hypocrisies of the world, as when she ridicules her parents for not seeing through her Jewish date's prim posturing.

Alice is still innocent, however. She continues to worry about sex, and her experience with LSD is one of childlike wonder. In fact, her comparison to Alice in Wonderland is somewhat naïve, since the subtext of Lewis Carroll's book is, indeed, about drugs. The novel also inspired the Jefferson Airplane song, "White Rabbit," from which the diary borrows its title. Yet her linking the experience to a novel reminds us of Alice's greatest gift: her ability to write. She speaks several times of the inadequacy of words, both on paper and in conversation, to express her hallucinations (although she does a very good job of it). She writes that during her trip she found the "original language" of Adam and Eve but couldn't communicate it to the others. Earlier, she writes that she and her mother speak "different languages." Alice still has difficulty communicating to others, even when freed by drugs, although she does not yet realize this. Furthermore, this "original language" suggests that the language people use, literally and metaphorically, is no longer divided by a generational gap, but is split between those who do drugs and those who abstain. Another clue that drugs are taking over the part of her mind that literature used to fulfill is when Alice is unable to distinguish between what is real and not real during her trip. Previously, she sought refuge in books and used to confuse the events from literature and life, but drugs provide easier access into a fantastical world where she feels a communion with people and things around her.

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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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