Table of Contents | Message Board | Downloadable/Printable Version
CHAPTER SUMMARY WITH NOTES
CHAPTER 9 - THE MOCK-TURTLE’S STORY
The Duchess is fetched by the Queen’s soldier(apparently she is in prison for having boxed the Queen’s ears). She appears happy to see Alice and is relieved that she will not be executed. The conversation between the Duchess and Alice is packed with statements and the ‘moral’ of each of these statements. This is enough to disorient Alice, since she has never thought that everything that she said would eventually have a moral.
Frightened by the Queen, the Duchess finally leaves and Alice is now encouraged by the Queen to meet the Mock Turtle. The Queen orders the Gryphon (a queer creature) to take Alice to the Mock turtle.
The Mock Turtle, sitting on a little rocky ledge, is sad and constantly sighing. Alice requests the Mock Turtle to tell her, his history. The Mock Turtle very proudly lists the various subjects that were taught to him. The subjects include, Reeling and Writhing and the different branches of Arithmetic (Ambition, Distraction, Uglification and Derision).
Apart from this were Mystery, Seaography, Drawling, Stretching and Fainting. What excites Alice about the Mock Turtle’s school is that the duration of attendance would lessen day by day. The Mock turtle asserts that it is "because of this that they are called lessons".
The Duchess comes through as a typical Victorian moralist. She makes Alice feel uncomfortable. This shows the difference between their characters. The latter is still a child( and hence, closer to the natural, untainted modes of thought). The former’s attitude only serves to confuse Alice.
The chapter also evaluates the institution of ‘education’. The evaluation begins with the perspective of the Duchess. Later, we learn of the Mock - Turtle’s system of education. The duchess harps on highlighting a moral to everything that is said and done, which the young Alice finds hard to digest.
According to the Duchess nothing is done for the sake of it and this concept is carried further by the Mock-turtle who talks about the reason why the turtle who taught him was called ‘tortoise’. The explanation given by the mock-turtle is that the turtle was called ‘tortoise’ (pronounced as /t • :t• s/ - tortes, that sounds similar to ‘taught us’) because he ‘taught us’.
The Mock-turtle further speaks of all that was taught to them thus emphasizing that one needs to look into the necessity of learning something that would help later.
CHAPTER 10 - THE LOBSTER - QUADRILLE
This chapter has a certain rhythm to it, perhaps because of the contents. The chapter highlights the attempt on the part of the Gryphon and the Mock Turtle to teach Alice the beauty of a dance called "The Lobster Quadrille".
The dance involves at first getting into a line along the sea-shore. There are two lines formed each consisting of seals, turtles and salmon. Then one has to advance twice, set to partners and change lobsters and then retire in the same order.
Moreover, the dance also involves throwing the lobsters far out into the sea and having done so swimming after them. The Gryphon and the mock- turtle sing and dance the ‘lobster quadrille’ for Alice who is as confused about the dance as possible.
The chapter is packed with nuances of the English language - nuances that lend the language its essence and flavor. It speaks of the importance of using language to enrich a certain experience and not to merely pass on information.