Go Ask Alice
Sept. 12—Nov. 22
(Sept. 12–13) Alice's parents continue to tell her she's acting like a hippie. She discusses the establishment with Chris, who comes from a prominent upper-class family. Chris gets Alice a job at her store, and they work together a few times a week. Alice thinks that Chris is her best friend yet. (Sept. 21) School has begun, and Alice is happy because she and Chris are popular, and she feels attractive and thin. She pops a "Benny" (a speed-pill) whenever she gets tired or hungry. (Sept. 23) Alice's father believes Alice is tarnishing the family image. She and Chris plan to leave and work in San Francisco.
(Sept. 26) Chris's friend, Richie, a boy from college, turns Alice on to marijuana. Alice experiences a new depth of physical sensation. Richie gives her some joints to smoke on her own. (Oct. 5–8) Alice and Chris are in love with Richie and Ted (Richie's college friend), respectively. To make more money for drugs, she and Chris have started selling marijuana. Alice soon convinces Richie it would be safer to sell acid instead. Alice wants to spend all her free time with Richie, but he has his sights set on medical school and works hard in college. Nevertheless, she will do anything to help him and is especially curious to try sex with him while sober.
(Oct. 17–18) Alice sells LSD to a kid at the elementary school. She is so repulsed by her action, and by the thought of that kid selling it to other little kids, that she vows not to sell there again. She and Chris discover that Richie and Ted have been having sex with each other. She shamefully regrets having worked for him. (Oct. 19) She and Chris decide to flee to San Francisco. To make up for having peddled drugs, Alice vows to turn Richie in to the police and stay clean with Chris. They leave in the middle of the night for Salt Lake City en route to San Francisco. Alice fears Richie will find her, as only she could have provided the detailed information to the police. She writes a farewell letter to her family and feels ashamed for letting them down.
(Oct. 26-Nov. 5) They move into a dirty one-room apartment in San Francisco. After a few depressing days, Alice finds a job in a lingerie store, and Chris secures a job in a boutique with a glamorous older woman, Sheila. Alice is still homesick, however, and would return home if not for fear of Richie and would write her family if the postmark wouldn't give away her location.
(Nov. 10–16) Alice quits her job and gets a new one with Mr. Mellani, an affable, fatherly custom jeweler. He invites Alice and Chris to dinner with him and his large family. She believes she could easily get a lot of dates from the businessmen who pass through the lobby by the shop if she weren't "particular." She has a great time with Mr. Mellani's boisterous Italian family, but the loving atmosphere makes her feel lonely. (Nov. 19–22) Sheila invites the girls to a party at her house. Alice is excited but intimidated at the prospect of mingling with the sophisticated guests. She wonders if they'll think she's naïve if she drinks soda instead of champagne.
Alice rebels from her middle-class upbringing through deed and language. After a fight with her parents, she says she can't do anything to please the establishment, but her word choice denounces conformist society as a whole. Other reflections of her changing values through her language come about through her casual use of "man," or that she hasn't yet met a guy she "dig[s]." Alice wisely points out that while her father can accent his ideas with his own academic language, the language of the counterculture is taboo.
Despite her deepening attachment to drugs and her alienation from the world, Alice remains aware of her actions and of the harmful effects of drugs. She and her friends comment on the hypocrisy of U.S. drug laws—it's harder for a minor to acquire alcohol than it is to buy illegal marijuana—yet she feels guilty for selling drugs, especially to youngsters. The unspoken reason behind her guilt over selling to kids is her own sense of lost innocence. While turning Richie in to the authorities is a move typical of someone within the establishment, for Alice it is a way to repent for her sins.
Alice also matures in this section, learning more about her sexuality with Richie. However, she has not yet had sex while sober, so much of this new experience is drug-tinged. Richie's betrayal shatters her belief in the purity of love. She later fends off passes from older men with the world-weariness of someone twice her age; no longer is she the girl who was head-over-heels in love with Roger and Richie.
Beneath Alice's psychedelic adventures is her continuing desire to find someone with whom she can have the same open, loving relationship she once had with her family. She says she is only experimenting with drugs but is "hooked" on Richie, but it's clear that she experiments with people (Beth, Greta, Chris), too, in an attempt to find a surrogate family. She even concedes this to herself, when she reflects that Mr. Mellani's belief that she is an orphan is somewhat correct. Her shifting emotions concerning her family—they were the major cause for her departure, yet she longs for them in San Francisco—are underscored by her visit to Mr. Mellani's. As a surrogate father figure, he is far more involved with his children than her own father was, who seemed to prize his professional advancement over his family.
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