So she sat on, with closed eyes, and half believed herself in Wonderland, though she knew she had but to open them again and all would change to dull reality.

Alice’s older sister finishes off the story by reminiscing on the delights of childhood, and letting herself daydream about Wonderland for a time. Unlike Alice, she can’t fully give herself over to the dream – she’s too far into her adulthood to be able to truly experience that childhood wonder and imaginative power again. Still, she yearns to have that youthful ability to see the world through such a strange and fantastic lens, and she doesn’t want to stop daydreaming, because it means that she’ll need to re-enter reality, where she’s an adult with responsibilities and a far less whimsical perception of the world.

“I could tell you my adventures—beginning from this morning,” said Alice a little timidly: “but it’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.”

Throughout the novel, Alice often comments on how she’s changed so significantly during her time in Wonderland that she can’t recognize herself at all. Considering that her transformation may symbolize the transition from childhood to adulthood, this passage suggests that Alice understands that we cannot move back in time. We cannot return to our childhood selves – once we are changed or grown, we cannot revert. There’s something bittersweet in this statement – so many adults long for their childhood years – but Carroll also often makes it a point to state how exciting change and growth can be, and that becoming a new person isn’t a bad thing at all.

When you have to turn into a chrysalis—you will some day, you know—and then after that into a butterfly, I should think you’ll feel it a little queer, won’t you?

Although Alice is speaking to a literal caterpillar in this scene, there is a metaphor at play in their conversation. The transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly is often used as a symbol of a child’s coming of age, and Alice is comparing this process to her own problems with constantly changing in size. As Alice mentions here, changing into something else entirely can be confusing, and quickly moving from childhood into adulthood within the span of a few years is often a source of frustration and fear for adolescents.

“There ought to be a book written about me, that there ought! And when I grow up, I’ll write one—but I’m grown up now,” she added in a sorrowful tone.

Alice remarks on how curious Wonderland is, and the experience of constantly growing larger and smaller. She feels that she’s in a fairytale, something she used to believe only happened in books, but is now happening to her in real life. When she remarks that she’ll write a book about Wonderland once she’s grown up, it suggests that children are the only ones who can truly experience the “wonders” of the world, and the feeling of being inside a fantastic, strange, ever-changing story. Adults can’t have this experience – their reality is so much less wondrous – so they resort to writing books about the adventures they had in their long-lost childhoods. All that said, Alice’s sad remark that she’s “grown up now” is mostly wordplay, as she’s literally grown upward in height.

I’ve seen a good many little girls in my time, but never one with such a neck as that! No, no! You’re a serpent; and there’s no use denying it.

When Alice’s neck grows quite long, making her as tall as the tree canopy, she frightens a bird who takes her for a serpent. Alice is already worried that she is no longer herself, and her interaction with the bird only confirms that other creatures also don’t see her as a little girl. Serpents are venomous or otherwise dangerous animals, and Alice being mistaken for one shows that she no longer has that unthreatening childlike innocence about her – she’s growing into something more adult. Additionally, in literature, snakes are connected to humanity’s fall from grace into knowledge and sin. Their presence in a text can often signify coming of age into adulthood, a more complex understanding of the world, and sexual maturity.