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As the pounding of the drums dies away, Alice starts to
wonder if she still exists as part of the Red King’s dream. At this
moment, the Red Knight barrels toward her, screaming “Check!” The
White Knight comes to Alice’s rescue, and the two chess pieces fight
furiously until the Red Knight gallops off. The White Knight happily tells
Alice that he will bring her safely to the next brook, explaining that
once she crosses the brook she will become a queen. As they walk,
the White Knight describes all of the items that he carries with him.
He carries a box to keep clothes and food, a beehive for keeping
bees, a mousetrap to protect his horse from mice, and horse-anklets
to guard against shark-bites. As he speaks to Alice, he repeatedly
falls off of his horse. She questions his riding ability, which
offends him. The White Knight explains that he has practiced riding
frequently, which is the key to good horsemanship. Alice finds his
claims to be ridiculous.
As the White Knight and Alice continue traveling toward
the brook, he explains several of his inventions to Alice. He has
developed a new kind of helmet, several ways to jump a fence, and
a new kind of pudding, which he considers to be his greatest invention.
All of the White Knight’s inventions seem to have something wrong with
them. Alice becomes increasingly puzzled by his explanations as
they approach the forest’s border. The White Knight mistakes Alice’s
confusion for sadness, and proposes that he sing a song that has
several different names. Upon finishing the song, the White Knight
points to the brook that she must jump over to become a queen. He
asks her to wait to jump until he reaches a turn far off down the
road. Alice waits for him to pass out of sight, waving her handkerchief
after him, and jumps over the brook. On the other side, she finds
herself sitting on a lawn wearing a crown.
With the exception of the White Knight, the characters
of Looking-Glass World have no understanding of the rules of the
chess game that organize their lives. Alice has finally reached
the seventh square and will become a queen with her next move. Since
she moves as a pawn, she has no sense of the squares around her.
She learns of her impending transformation into a queen from the
White Knight, who comes to rescue her from the Red Knight. With
the help of the chessboard diagram provided by Carroll, it becomes
obvious that Alice faced no danger from the Red Knight, who had
recently moved to the square adjacent to Alice. The Red Knight’s
cry of “Check!” is not intended for Alice, whom, based on the rules
of chess, he cannot capture, but for the White King, whom the Red Knight
has put in check. The Red Knight has no understanding of the game,
and upon seeing Alice, believes that he is meant to capture her.
The White Knight arrives and enters the Red Knight’s square, defeating
the Red Knight. The White Knight guides Alice to the eighth square,
but before leaving she must see him off in his next move. Carroll
follows the rules of chess closely, requiring Alice to watch the
White Knight as the turns the bend in the road, following the one-across,
two-over movement of the Knight in chess.
The White Knight appears as a fictional manifestation
of Lewis Carroll. Critics have pointed out similarities between
the two, noting the physical resemblance between them. Both the
White Knight and Carroll have shaggy hair, mild blue eyes, and kindly
smiles. Like Carroll, the Knight invents curious contraptions to
help provide for any contingency. While the White Knight readies
himself for a shark attack, Carroll created devices such as an object
to allow him to take notes in the dark. More importantly, Alice
finds in the White Knight and individual who truly esteems and cares
for her. He soothes her loneliness, but this does not stop her from
leaving him to become a queen. This decision imitates how Alice
Liddell grew apart from Carroll as she matured. The song that the
White Knight sings to Alice serves as Carroll’s heartfelt, if misdirected,
tribute to the real life Alice. Carroll implies that Alice does
not feel sadness, only confusion. Alice’s dismissal of the White
King in her final remark about him affirms that she has grown up:
“‘I hope it encouraged him,’ she said, as she turned to run down
the hill.” Alice dismisses the White Knight’s offer of love and
friendship as she goes off to become a queen, just as Alice abandoned
Carroll when she became a young woman.