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Alice surveys her surroundings, spotting a group of elephants
in the distance that seem to be pollinating flowers and making honey.
She sets off in the direction of the elephants, but changes her
mind and starts heading down the hill in the other direction. Before
she knows it, she finds herself riding inside a carriage, and she
explains to the Guard present that she doesn’t have a ticket. She
hears various voices in the carriage badgering her, as the Guard
examines her with a telescope, a microscope, and opera glasses.
The other passengers in the carriage begin to discuss Alice. A man
dressed entirely in white paper comments that she ought to know
where her ticket is, while a goat interjects that she should know
the location of the ticket office. A beetle comments that Alice
will have to make the return journey as luggage. Alice hears a hoarse
voice in her ear that suggests various jokes she can make using
wordplay. As the train prepares to jump over a brook, Alice speaks
back to the voice. The train jumps and Alice finds herself sitting
quietly in the shade of a tree.
The strange voice turns out to be the voice of a gnat,
who has grown to the size of a chicken since they landed in the
forest. Alice and the Gnat discuss the difference between the insects
in Alice’s world and Looking-Glass World. He explains that the horsefly becomes
a rocking horsefly, the dragonfly becomes a snapdragon fly, and
the butterfly becomes a Bread-and-butter-fly. Alice wonders what
would happen to the Bread-and-butter-fly when it cannot find its
chosen diet of weak tea and cream. The Gnat informs her that this
is a regular occurrence, which means that Bread-and-butter-flies frequently
die. The Gnat then warns Alice that she will lose her name if she
travels into the wood. The Gnat discusses lost names and then vanishes
as mysteriously as he appeared.
Alice journeys into the wood and finds that she cannot
remember the name of anything. In her confusion, she thinks that
her name begins with the letter “L.” She comes across a Fawn, who
helps her through the wood. Once they exit the forest, the Fawn
runs away now that it remembers that it is a fawn and Alice is a
human. Alone again, Alice notices a series of signs pointing the
way to Tweedledum and Tweedledee’s house. She heads off in that
direction but bumps into them before she reaches her destination.
Alice fully understands the lack of control that she exerts
over herself and where she wishes to go in Looking-Glass World.
Despite her strong attraction to the elephants, she pulls back from
going to meet them in favor of remaining on the chessboard and following
the rules of the game. Back on the chessboard, her movements become measured
and predictable. Alice’s train ride allows her to skip the third
“square,” propelling her forward two spaces, mimicking the fact
that pawns move two spaces forward on their first move. From this
point on, Alice’s movement and geographical position are charted
in the chess diagram provided at the beginning of the book.
Alice and the Gnat discuss in detail how one’s name should
relate to one’s identity or physical characteristics. As they discuss
the names of different insects in their respective worlds, the Gnat
asks Alice about the purpose of names if the insects do not respond
to the names when called by them. Alice explains that the names
are not necessarily for animals and objects to identify themselves
by and respond to, but rather, names help those with powers of language
to label, classify, and organize what they experience. In Looking-Glass World,
humans are not the only species with powers of language, which changes
Alice’s perceptions about the act of naming and the properties of
names. Alice’s interactions with the Fawn are initially friendly,
but he bolts upon learning that it is a Fawn and she is a human
child. Alice discovers that names do not simply label, but convey
information about how something operates in the world in relation
to other things. The Bread-and-butter-fly, as its name suggests,
lives on weak tea with cream, and Fawns fear humans, their conditioned
The Fawn’s fear of Alice suggests Carroll’s preoccupation
with Darwin’s theory of evolution. Carroll was a deeply religious
man who felt threatened by Charles Darwin’s research on evolution, which
was published at the same time that Carroll was writing. To Carroll,
the theory of evolution challenged the Christian belief in a harmonious
universe created by God in the manner described in the book of Genesis.
As in Genesis, the forest resembles Eden, in which men and animals
coexisted harmoniously. Alice and the Fawn exit the forest just
as Adam and Eve were expelled from Eden after tasting from the Tree
of Knowledge. Just like the story of the Fall of Eden, the Fawn
becomes afraid once it remembers that Alice is a human and that
she presents a threat to his safety. The reference to the Fall calls
attention to Carroll’s anxiety about Darwin’s theories of evolution,
which in his perception sought to undo the idea of a harmonious
universe that might bring about a second Fall.