Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll Chapters 1 and 2 Summary

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll Menu
Chapter 1

Opening Poem – “All In the Golden Afternoon”

This short poem opens Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by describing a boating trip taken, one sunny afternoon, by three young girls and an adult friend (the narrator). The girls demand that the narrator tell them a story; he obliges, composing one out of his head. The narrator is presumably Lewis Carroll himself, and the little girls — called Prima, Secunda, and Tertia in the poem (or “First,” “Second” and “Third” in Latin) — are Alice Liddell and her two sisters. The poem is both happy and melancholy, celebrating the joys of childhood but mourning the thought that Alice and her sisters will forget those joys, and Carroll’s stories, as they grow up.

Chapter 2 – The Pool of Tears

Alice is startled to find that she seems to be “opening out” like a telescope — she is growing taller! “Curiouser and curiouser!” she exclaims, forgetting everything she knows of English grammar. Her feet seem to be getting very far away, and Alice wonders in desperation if they will stop obeying her when she wants them to go somewhere, and if she’ll have to mail the Christmas presents in order to keep in touch.

She suddenly stops growing when her head bangs the roof of the hall. Alice is now more than nine feet tall! She can easily reach the golden key on top of the table now — but, of course, she can’t fit through the fifteen-inch-high garden door; and, realizing her situation, she bursts into a flood of tears. Then she notices that the White Rabbit has returned to the hallway. Splendidly dressed and carrying a pair of gloves and a fan, he is muttering about what the Duchess will do to him if he is late. Alice tries to ask him for help, but he is so startled by her voice that he drops his fan and gloves and runs away.

Alice picks up the fan and gloves, and starts to wave the fan absently as she talks to herself. She is wondering whether she’s turned into somebody else, since she doesn’t feel like herself at all. Concerned that she might have turned into Mabel, a very stupid classmate, Alice tries to test herself by reciting a poem she knows about hardworking little bees — but it comes out as a morbid, hilarious poem about crocodiles instead.

Convinced that she’s turned into Mabel, Alice bursts into tears again — but then suddenly realizes that she is shrinking once more. Apparently, the fan has been causing this, and she tosses it away just before she vanishes completely. Alice runs back to the garden door — but it’s locked again, the key is still on top of the table, and Alice is still shut out. To make things worse, her foot suddenly slips and she falls into a pool of salty water To her surprise, she realizes that this is the puddle made by the tears she wept when she was nine feet tall.

Splashing around in the salty pool, she comes across a mouse who, like herself, has fallen in. She tries to make conversation with it, but she thoughtlessly keeps bringing up the subject of cats and dogs, and the Mouse swims away in terror and anger. Alice persuades it to come back, and the Mouse tells her that if they can get out of the pool, it will explain to her why it hates dogs and cats. Together with several other little animals which have fallen in, Alice and the Mouse find the shore of the pool and climb out.