Go Ask Alice
July 20—Sept. 10
(July 20) Alice experiments with more drugs on her date with Bill, injecting speed into her arm. She feels completely uninhibited and as if she were a new, better person. (July 23) Her grandfather has a small heart attack. At first, she is afraid she will have to be sent home, making drugs inaccessible, but then Alice ponders her grandparents' imminent death. She then considers her own death, and, despite ultimately believing in an afterlife, she fears most of all what will happen to her rotting body. She decides she wants to be cremated. She also resolves to go home, because even though drugs are "beautiful," she feels there is something wrong about it.
(July 25-Aug. 2) Alice doesn't go home and instead helps her grandmother take care of her grandfather while avoiding her friends. (Aug. 3) Nevertheless, she succumbs and goes to a party at Bill's, where she takes acid and sits for hours examining her right hand. (Aug. 6) Alice loses her virginity to Bill while on acid. Part of her wishes she had saved herself for Roger. Instead of sex being painful or special, as she had previously imagined it, it turns out to be another "brilliant, freaky, way-out" part of her drugged adventures. She then worries about being impregnated and thinks she would have to get an abortion. Upset, she wishes she had someone to talk to about it.
(Aug. 9) Roger and his parents show up unexpectedly to visit Alice's ailing grandfather. Alice is taken with Roger and wants to throw herself in his arms. He asks her out and kisses her, fulfilling all her expectations. He is going off to military school soon. Alice is enthralled with him but feels guilty about her drug use and loss of virginity and thinks Roger would never forgive her or understand. (Aug. 10) Roger keeps calling, but Alice refuses to talk to him until she sorts out her guilty feelings. She wants to talk to someone about drugs but doesn't know whom to ask. Unable to sleep, she decides to take some of her grandfather's sleeping pills.
(Aug. 13–16) Alice goes home, and her family accepts her warmly. She decides to repent and start over. Everyone, including Roger, is concerned for her. She is still worried about a possible pregnancy. (Aug. 17–23) She finishes off the last off the sleeping pills and goes to see her doctor to get more. She thinks they're not as strong as her grandfather's, since she has to take two or three at a time. She receives more powerful tranquilizers, which she loves, and writes Roger an emotional letter. While she doesn't tell him about her drug use, she wonders if she could get him to try some. (Aug. 26) She gets her period and is so relieved she decides to throw away all her pills and tranquilizers.
(Sept. 6) Beth returns from camp, and Alice finds she's a changed person as well as resenting Beth's new Jewish boyfriend who monopolizes Beth's time. Alice goes to a store and Chris, a girl who works there, straightens Alice's hair. Her mother disapproves and tells her she looks like a hippie. (Sept. 7) Her parents have an emotional talk with Alice and tell her they are worried about her, but Alice finds they lecture too much and listen too little, as do all parents, leaving their kids without anyone to whom they can open up. (Sept. 9) She finds out that Roger won't be home until Christmas and, heartbroken, writes him that she'll wait for him. (Sept. 10) She visits Chris again at the store and tells her about Roger. Chris gives her a pill to pep her up. Alice takes it and, sure enough, she regains her energy and does some chores, but she is so hyperactive she has to take a sleeping pill to calm down.
Alice's continuing introduction to drugs and sex is juxtaposed against the conventionality of her former life. She is unable to connect with her grandparents, parents, and Beth, and it seems only a matter of time before she and Roger become incompatible. While she feels guilty throughout the section (especially in light of her grandfather's failing health), and often chastises herself for her "sins," she largely feels the others are the ones who have changed, as she accuses Beth of having done. Yet Alice is clearly the one who is changing, and she doesn't seem fully aware of it; while the doctor's sleeping pills may in fact be weaker than her grandfather's, a more likely explanation is that Alice is developing resistance to them after repeated use. Her up-and-down behavior is summed up by her use sleeping pills to offset the effects of speed; "That's life," she says in reference to the combination, and her statement suggests the turbulence of her emotional world as well.
Drugs make Alice feel like the person she never was before. Under the influence of speed, she says, she feels like a member of a "different, improved, perfected species." We can see that, ultimately, what Alice derives from drugs is a sense of being loved for who she really is, by the drug, by others around her who are also on drugs, and by herself. However, her fear of being eaten by worms, a nightmare that will recur later, reveals her deeper concerns. What seems to scare her most about the image is that she will rot away and no one will know what happens to her under the ground. This anxiety mirrors her running insecurity that she is rotting away above ground while no one seems to mind or is able to help her.
While Alice still maintains her diary regularly, the drugs unseat it as the main priority in her life. An ironic moment occurs when she stares at her hand for hours while on acid. Her hand, of course, is the tool by which she writes and as such is in many ways more communicative than her mouth is. Under the influence of drugs, it instead becomes an object of wonder that fascinates her mind in a way she is unable to communicate to anyone else. While her diary, too, was not shared with anyone, her continuing personification of it gives her writing the semblance of a dialogue.
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