Counterculture and Drugs

The hippie counterculture of drugs, casual sex, and other anti-establishment mores readily seduces Alice, whose discontentment with her middle-class upbringing is strong in the first few sections of the diary and whenever she reverts to drugs. Regular society is competitive, cruel, and hypocritical (note the difficulty of attaining liquor versus the ease of acquiring drugs); the counterculture gives Alice what she wants: excitement, experience, ecstasy. Her experiments with drugs are initially strolls into newfound lands, but they soon become her entire world, and she reflects the counterculture in her appearance, language, and ambitions. No longer does she want to go to college, marry, and have a stable career, but she simply wants to get stoned and have casual sex. For Alice, drugs are a way to connect, however briefly, with others. Moreover, they offer a powerful escape, blurring the line between fantasy and reality as books once did for her. However, the counterculture soon becomes empty and cold to Alice, and her repeated returns home—and ensuing happiness in the family fold—indicate her true desire for the stability that middle-class life offers, despite its downfalls.

Sexual Assault

Alice documents several cases of sexual assault, either on her or on others. She and Chris are molested by Sheila and her boyfriend; Alice performs oral sex for drugs; a boy from school threatens to rape her; and both Doris and Babbie have long histories of abuse. The numerous cases provide evidence of the utter cruelty of society; not only do others try to lure Alice back into drugs or remain unsympathetic to her, they actively victimize her and other girls who are in need of help. Alice develops a jaded attitude toward sex, and only through Joel's gentleness does she regain her belief in romantic love.