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CHAPTER SUMMARY WITH NOTES
CHAPTER 2 - THE POOL OF TEARS
This chapter begins with the realization of the effect that the cake has had on Alice. She is not able to spot her two little feet and this fills her with a fear. She starts to think of the different presents that she would send her two feet for Christmas.
Dejected at the turn of events, she bursts into tears and it is not long after that she discovers that she is in the midst of a large pool around her. After some time she hears a pattering of feet and spots the rabbit who is in an awful hurry.
Startled and frightened at the sight of Alice, the Rabbit drops its kid gloves and the fan and scurries away. Absent-mindedly, Alice picks up the fan and begins to fan herself as she tries to make sense of all that is happening around her. In her struggle to come to terms with the situation, she learns that she is neither unable to neither recite the multiplication tables nor is she able to remember events of importance. It is during this conversation that she has with herself that she discovers that she has slipped on the gloves that were left there by the rabbit. She soon finds out that the fan was the cause for her shrinking rapidly. In her rush to get into the garden she slips and finds herself wading in a pool of salt water.
Her first idea was that she had somehow fallen into the sea, but later discovers that it was a pool of her tears. She notices that with her wading in the pool is a small mouse, and while conversing with the mouse she manages to scare the mouse with her constant reference to "Dinah" (her cat) and Dinah’s love for rats.
Alice finally looks around her to notice that the pool was full of all kinds of animals and birds. The mouse promises to relate its story to the others and on this note the company swims towards the shore.
In this chapter it is interesting to note the simple observation of Alice’s, on discovering that she has grown very tall. Her first worry is the fact that she will never be able to see her feet and therefore she plans on how to ‘communicate’ with her feet. Her inability to go through the door is disturbing to her. Carroll seems to state that ‘growing up’ is truly a state of mind. He seems to very clearly highlight the distinction between ‘physical growth’ and ‘mental and emotional maturity’. Alice is still the child that she was before she grew that tall.
However, closely related to growing, is the act of questioning. It is this act of questioning everything, including about one’s own identity that is typical of the adolescent years. The need to identify oneself with a particular quality (perhaps something unique) is felt by most children at the threshold of adolescence. And this is very clearly projected by the manner in which Alice tries to see on how different she is from other friends, especially Mabel, who to her is a person who knows very little.
It is at this time that Alice becomes aware of her change in size, caused due to the fan in her hand. Carroll seems to picture the fact that growing up and maturing is a process that one discovers all of a sudden. We as individuals are made to realize that we all have suddenly grown up and have suddenly found ourselves saddled with responsibilities. It is a leap from the beautiful moments of childhood to that of adulthood. The process is forgotten and lost, and the adult is suddenly hurled into a ‘pool of tears’, that signify adulthood. Carroll seems to suggest that adulthood is indeed a ‘pool of tears’ because it is in this pool that one meets various other individuals and feel the joy and sorrows of life.
Whether one swims or drowns in the process is dependent on the individual sensitivity (Alice’s insensitivity to the mouse’s feelings) and curiosity (her desire to know all about the mouse’s history).