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SHORT PLOT SUMMARY (Synopsis)
The novel opens with Alice and her sister sitting on the bank of a river. Feeling absolutely bored since she (Alice) did not have anything to do she decides to take a short walk. Just then she spots a small white rabbit dart across the grass. What amazes her is that the rabbit takes out a small watch from its pocket and exclaims, "I will be late". Alice had never heard a rabbit talk and moreover felt that it was very strange for a rabbit to own a pocket watch. Curiosity takes Alice down the rabbit hole and this leads her into a land where her main pre- occupation seems to be either growing tall or becoming short.
Her desire to get through a little door that leads to a beautiful garden takes her on an adventure to the house of a Duchess, a mad tea-party where she meets the Mad Hatter and March Hare. Her encounter with the caterpillar is very helpful because it is through the caterpillar that she manages to know the way in which one could change their height depending on the situation. Her experience in the house of White Rabbit is another interesting episode. On the whole, her adventures prior to entry into the beautiful garden are of a kind that leads her to question herself and the knowledge that she has about herself and of the world.
Her entry into the beautiful garden signals the beginning of a turn of events where she is subjected to various questions. It is typical of a situation in which the readers confront the fact that appearances are deceptive. The Queen becomes very symbolic of a character that is a sadist at heart and ironically she is indeed the Queen of Hearts. The game of croquet which represents the cruel rules of the game (land) and the lop-sided legal system (courtroom proceedings) are typical of all that one despises. Alice’s final realization of reality (that the characters are just a pack of cards) is the realization of the manner in which external features can influence the mind of a human being, especially that of a child.
The novel ends on a very typical fairy tale like note. Alice wakes up to realize that she has been dreaming. However the fairy tale end is only for Alice. Her sister is the one who leads her out of the dream to the world of reality. In a waking reality she sees in her mind’s eye all that Alice had dreamt. In her imagination, time - past, present and future collapse. The past (Alice’s dream) is re-experienced by Alice’s sister, who is symbolic of the present. This leads her (Alice’s sister) to foresee the days when her sister would gather round her a dozen bright and innocent children who would in turn listen with curiosity all about that intriguing land called "Wonderland".