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CHAPTER SUMMARY WITH NOTES
CHAPTER 11 - WHO STOLE THE TARTS?
This chapter is interesting since it involves the manner in which Alice is identified in the court of the King of Hearts. The tarts made by the Queen of Hearts are stolen and a trial is on to identify the person who has stolen the tarts.
The chapter begins with the way in which the people at the court are seated. The court is assembled with a number of birds and beasts as well as the whole pack of cards. In front of the king and the queen stands the Knave of Hearts, who is accused of having stolen the tarts.The White Rabbit is seen standing right next to the Knave of Hearts with a scroll in his hand.
To Alice, the most amazing thing is the jury box. It simply consists of a mixture of creatures(animals and birds). What proves interesting is that they are all trying to write on a slate and it surprises Alice that they are all writing only their names, to ensure that they do not forget them at all.
The jury proves to be one of the "stupidest" of all the juries since they cannot distinguish between what they have to take down and what they should not. Alice notices that one of the jurors has a pencil that squeaks and this irritates her. Therefore, she promptly moves behind him and takes the pencil away from him. This juror is Bill, the lizard, who in turn does not notice that there is not pencil in his hand.
Finally, the trial begins and the White Rabbit reads the parchment-scroll on which is written the theft for which the trial is on. The first witness happens to be the Hatter who promptly comes into the court with his cup of tea in one of his hands and a piece of bread and butter in the other. He apologizes for this and states that since he did not have the time to finish his tea he had to get it along with him.
It is at this time that Alice feels a curious sensation and finally realizes that she is actually growing large. This results in her squeezing the dormouse. Alice becomes a witness to all that is happening around her, especially the totally bizarre court proceedings, (especially that involves the act of ‘suppressing’ one of the speakers).
The process is indeed very interesting, since it involved taking a large canvas bag that is tied up at the mouth with strings. Into this is put the guinea pig and then someone would sit on it.
The next witness is the Duchess’ cook who is recognized from almost a mile away. This is because most of the people sneeze in her presence. When she refuses to be witness, the next witness is summoned. Alice is most surprised to note that she is the next witness.
The events are played out in the court of the King of Hearts. Alice is present in the court , where she grows bigger. Perhaps, Carroll tries to explain that Alice’s change in size is essential here to enable a total view of the proceedings - a very crucial aspect of any trial. It is important for an individual to be aware of every aspect and look at the case from every angle before making a judgment. Alice’s growth symbolizes precisely that.
This chapter also contains the subtle nuances of humor that we have seen earlier. As for the trial, it follows no procedure-it lacks rules, evidence and, moreover, justice. Carroll is thus able to make a sly dig at the legal system in Victorian England.