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CHAPTER SUMMARY WITH NOTES
CHAPTER 8 - THE QUEEN’S CROQUET-GROUND
Alice finds a large white-rose tree near the entrance of the garden. An unusual spectacle greets her there. She notices that the gardeners here are all animated playing cards, Spades. Three of them, "two," "five," " seven" are busy trying to paint the rose bush red.
On inquiring, she is told that the queen had ordered for a red rose bush, in place of which they had planted a white-rose bush. Scared of the consequences, they were trying to cover up their mistake by painting the rose bush red.
Soon they hear a procession. At the head of the procession, Alice sees ten soldiers carrying clubs, followed by ten courtiers attired with diamonds. They are followed by ten royal children, all ornamented with hearts.
Next come the guests of honor - the kings and the queens. Alice recognizes the White Rabbit amidst them. Then follow the Knave of Hearts carrying the king’s crown. And last of all come the King and the Queen of Hearts. The procession stops near Alice and the Queen asks Alice to identify the three cards who, in order to escape the wrath of the Queen, have laid flat on the ground.
After Alice manages to "save" the "lives" of these cards, the Gryphon (a queer creature) informs Alice that no one in Wonderland has ever been executed.
What follows then is a strange game of croquet played with live hedgehogs as croquet balls and flamingoes as the mallets. During the game, the Queen is often heard saying "Off with their heads". Alice is unable to understand the rules of the game since things are so chaotic. Everyone tries to play at the same time and this leads to a sweeping pandemonium.
While looking for some way to escape, Alice spots the Cheshire Cat and gets into a conversation with the cat regarding the events that were taking place. It is during this conversation, that the cat is introduced to the king and its (the cat’s) rude behavior towards the king leads to the ruling "Off with your head". However, the Cheshire cat had the ability of making only a part of its body visible, the rest being rendered invisible. Thus, the cat arranges things such that all those present could only spot his head.
Now total bedlam is let loose. This is because, the executioner argues that one cannot cut off a head unless there was a body. The monarch alleges that anything that has a head can be beheaded. The Queen further threatens if something is not done at the earliest, she will have everyone executed.
They finally decide to ask Alice to resolve the matter. She suggests that it would be best to ask the Duchess. While the executioner is dispatched to get the Duchess, the cat manages to fade away. This forces the entire party to go looking for the cat.
The events during the game of croquet are significant of a society which is governed by a monarch who is a sadist in every sense of the term.
Alice becomes an active participant in the affairs of Wonderland by attempting to hide the cards from the wrath of the Queen. She also questions the dictum of the Queen(i.e. "off with their heads"). Her observations enable the reader to conclude that the system of justice in Wonderland is as lop-sided as it is in the real world. A verdict is passed without a trial, and, at times, without a crime being committed.
The chapter is replete with absurd instances which, when carefully examined, mirror the illogicality practiced in everyday life.
An interesting fact about the Wonderland monarchy is that it is a Queendom. However, the liberality with which the Queen orders the beheadings of those who displease her show her in a poor light. Hers is an oppressive regime; there is no utopia linked with Wonderland.