What’s the “Porpoise?”

Posted On November 17, 2009

Filed under Jenna K.

Comments Dropped 12 responses

I’m having some trouble finding a reason for chapter 10 to even exist. I’ve looked through it over and over again and can’t find anything symbolic, no deeper meaning, no hidden lesson, nothing that hints towards drugs and sex, nothing that makes fun of politics, nothing.

All I can find is the usual play on words and confusing conversation.

The Mock Turtle and Gryphon kind of remind me of the March Hare and Mad Hatter except not as witty and energetic. They tell all these odd stories that are logical but don’t make sense to us. Their stories have a lot of play on words like ‘porpoise’ and ‘whitings’ and ‘soles and eels’. They cause a lot of confusion, and like the Caterpillar make her recite poems. Unlike the other chapters there are all more parodies on early poems in this chapter, I don’t know if there is something important about that. Why does Carroll make fun of some many published writings? Why were there a bulk of parodies in this chapter? I don’t know.

So basically, this blog was just written for people to comment on it and help me find a ‘porpoise’ to this chapter 🙂 Because I’ve tried and have not succeeded.

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12 Responses to “What’s the “Porpoise?””

  1. Benedikt K

    I think Chapter Ten makes fun of the educational system. All subjects, even math, are pulled through the dirt in both name and reputation. It seems to be that everything is not what it is supposed to be, not useful. Similarly, a lot of what we learn in school is unrelated to what we are being taught.
    And then there is the concern of the lessons lessening. I find that a great deal later in school is revision. So much time is used on reexplaining things, where the renewed explanations are unnecessary. Yes, there is a time where confusion needs to be lifted, but time is used inefficiently, and what we are learning is decreasing, until, on the twelfth day, we are the teachers.

    • Vance L.

      This is spot on with my idea of the chapter’s message.

      In addition, I also think that the Mock Turtle represented foolish pride in his need to prove Alice and her school as less than him. His school’s possesion of washing affirmed in his mind that his learning was more complete and simply, better.

      I believe that his overemotional zeal and self-pity combine in Carroll’s point that more often than not we attach ourselves to certain portions of our lives and base ourselves upon these THINGS or ideas. These end up controlling our self-esteem and any feelings of accomplishment we have. Without someone or something to depend on, our system-based minds collapse.

  2. Alex F.

    I think this chapter is a kind of comic relief for the story. There’s really nothing to pick apart, nothing that suddenly grabs your eye and makes you think. It’s just a story about school and a play on words. Whether it was intended or not, this was kind of a brain-break for me. I didn’t have to analyze or dissect anything, because everything was pretty much already out there in the open. Of course, it’s always possible that there IS something to this chapter, and Mr. Long will point it out and we’ll all go “oh, duh!” But I don’t see much of a point to this chapter, myself. It’s just a link to the completion of the story.

  3. Kathy B.

    Thank you for writing this blog! When I read Chapter 10 I had no idea what he was trying to say, and I still don’t! Dancing lobsters go over my head, what can I say. And sure, maybe it just is what it is and there is no deeper meaning, but did Carroll just decide to throw in a chapter about how to dance with a lobster for the heck of it? It seems completely irrelevant to the rest of the story (although maybe that is the point). Maybe he did have writer’s block, but I wish my writer’s block allowed me to be creative enough to fabricate some dance moves and a song involving lobsters and soup. Maybe it is relevant somehow in “Through the Looking Glass”. I really don’t know.

  4. Michael P.

    I don’t think that there is a real purpose to the chapter. I think it is just like the riddle “how is a raven like a writing desk”, there is no answer, but there is always someone trying to force a meaning on it. Or maybe he made the chapter to confuse all the people who are analyzing the story and ruining it. But if you think about it, if you read the entire story and didn’t go out of your way to look for the “meaning” of the story, the whole story might seem a bit random and pointless.

    But why does it matter that the chapter is random and seemingly pointless? After all, it is just a children’s book (kinda). Every chapter, every character, every situation does not have to be a symbol for some deep, philosophical something. Maybe it just is what it is.

  5. Jenna K.

    Well I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought there was no real meaning to this chapter. I agree with you guys, maybe he just had some writers block or just didn’t want to have some deeper meaning. Or maybe he accidentally skipped a chapter when he went in and added to it. I don’t know. He is human.

  6. Caroline M.

    I felt the same way as I read that chapter. It was so weird and just generally awkward. I think that it was just a chapter in the book where we have to say, it’s just a children’s book. Although that doesn’t really apply to any other chapter I think this chapter was one where we just have to accept that maybe not every word in Alice’s adventure is meant to be dissected to find a “porpoise”. That is just my opinion, and I’m sure if you searched hard enough you could find a good meaning with a sturdy lesson to be learned. It could be that the lesson in chapter 10 was that there’s not always a lesson to be learned and sometimes things don’t makes sense and they never will. Also I agree with Darcy, it’s possible he just needed to shake things up a little bit due to writers block, but as weird as the previous chapters were I’m sure he could have come up with something a little more reasonable than what he did if he wanted to.

  7. Hersh T.

    I think the best answer in this place would be he said to himself why not? Why does he have to make every single chapter have a higher meaning. Maybe the idea of just making it a child’s story finally came through. And now, he had to finally make it seem truly nonsensical. As we can all attribute different deeper meanings to the other chapters, he decided to make it truly make no sense.

  8. Melissa H.

    Jenna, I love this blog. I also agree with you and didn’t get why this chapter was written and didn’t understand it. Maybe there is no point to it and he just put random things in to make the book longer, just like some people do when writing essays. They reiterate different points if they have to have 5 pages but only have 4 written. But then again this doesn’t really make sense because I doubt Carroll has a certain amount of chapters to use and he could just make it succinct. It also could be used as evident later on in the story and/or the trial. But I don’t really see how they come into the story. It’s very random and not on topic. Like Darcy said, it could just be writer’s block.

  9. Shannon L.

    I love that you wrote about not understanding this chapter! When I read chapter ten, I thought that there was no point to it. I was afraid that I was the only one who didn’t understand the purpose. The truth is I still have not found the purpose. As I read Darcy’s I have to agree with what she wrote. Maybe Carroll did come in contact with a writers block and put this chapter in because it was all he could think of. Or maybe he put this in because he wanted to make us think there was a meaning, when really there isn’t one.

  10. Katie R

    I agree with Jenna completely. When the Gryphon and the Mock Turtle were introduced, I thought of it as ridiculous. It seems like these characters were just introduced at random, and were never mentioned in the previous chapters in the story. When they were introduced, I thought that their topics of conversation were sort of strange. They start talking about their weird little lives and how they have been. Are they crazy?

  11. Darcy S.

    My personal idea is that Carroll was busy writing down his story when he came to the wretched sticky tar pit that we call writers block. Yes, we do hold Carroll at such a high spot on our list of ingenius writers but even the greats come to a startling hault in the plot sometimes. It could be writer’s block, or he looked back upon the story he was currently creating and decided there wasn’t enough parody and meaningless play in there for his desired finger-sucking pee-wee audience. I suppose then he decided to include some more word plays for the children audience to spot out and get proper jokes right out of it. That’s all I can come up with. It certainly seems like everytime he needs to keep the plot going or come up with a new way to move Alice through Wonderland he either introduces a new character or presents a riddle/question/parody which she doesn’t understand and will have her kicked out of her current setting. How peculiar…

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