Boyish Charm…

1 12 2009

I promised myself I wouldn’t do this, but desperation makes fools of us all…

In chapter 6 “The Pig and the Pepper” we are introduced to a new character referred to as “The duchess”. This character, when we first see her, resided in the kitchen. We see her sit singing to the wailing baby who she holds in her arms. The cook all the while is using copious amounts of pepper in the food and is spilling out into the air, intensifying the baby’s wailing. The duchess then tosses the wailing baby at Alice asking if she would like to “nurse it” she then runs off claiming a meeting with the duchess to play croquette. The stunned Alice is then faced with a moral decision of staying with the baby and keeping it, or leaving it to its fate with the duchess. As you know she decided to take the child away from the duchess, but when she went outside, Alice heard a grunt from the young boy and to her utter astonishment the young boy turned into a pig before her eyes and it ran off into the woods.

Lewis Carroll’s dislike for little boys was no secret. He not only detested them he may have even despised them. Lewis Carroll while giving this book to Alice Liddell may have been using this scene as a warning. The last thing he would want is for his precious Alice to not only, not love him, but to fall in love with another. He also believed that boys could be untrustworthy so, while he may have wanted Alice as his own. He may also have been sending her a warning as simple as be safe. If even a little boy could turn into a Pig, who’s to say that any one else couldn’t. One thing I also thought worth noting was that while there is definitely a message from Lewis to Alice.

There is also perhaps an even more obvious message. The beaten child turning into a pig is a message. This is the message that wasn’t aimed for Alice but instead for the audience. I doubt even the duchess could mess up this moral.


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3 responses

3 12 2009
Ryan S.

hmmm.. interesting I genuenly never thought of that… probably because I didnt know what a “fig” was but still… very clever.

3 12 2009
Benedikt K

I would agree to the fact that Carroll aimed this passage as a criticism towards society during that time, but I would not say that it was meant to show that all boys are detestable. Carroll, at some point, must have accepted that Alice could not be with him.

Shortly after the boy turns into a pig, the cheshire cat prompts Alice about what had became of it. She replies that it turned into a pig, and the cheshire cat said it thought so. But the cat misheard. A second later it asks whether Alice said pig or fig. Now we do not know whether it thought it would become a pig or a fig. So while Carroll was clearly giving Alice a warning, he could not tell her that all boys would turn into pigs. By giving the option of the pig first, he implies that a boy is more likely to turn into a pig, and yet he cannot exclude the possibility that the boy may have grown up to be a pig.

I think its interesting how the last part gives both a message to Alice that there may be good people out there, and at the same time shows that, had it not been abused, the child may have been as sweet as a fig.

2 12 2009
Caroline M.

I agree! I’ve said before that this book seems written for Alice Liddell and in it are lessons Carroll wants her to learn. For example, as you said, the boy turning into a pig. Which is quite funny when you think about it because today we call boys who are not very pleasant gentleman, pigs. I also agree with your identification of the “more obvious message”. Children who do not have a content and happy life are often not the best of adults.

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