Where in the World Did That Come From?

November 17, 2009

Was anyone else wondering where in the world the shore came from?

In Chapter 2 Alice is swimming in a pool of her own tears and after a discussion with the Mouse “Alice led the way, and the whole party swam to the shore (The Annotated Alice, page 27).”

Now, previously Alice had fallen into a room with, I thought, only one other exit. Somehow, there is now another exit, and not only an exit, but a shore! Shores tend to be rather large things, so how could Alice have missed it?

As I reread Chapter 1, I realize that there are actually many exits in the form of locked doors. Still, the doors are locked. How could Alice get through one if it is locked?

The way she is described as exploring the hallway, “Alice had been all the way down one side and up the other” makes the hallway seem finite, yet the White Rabbit is said to have “scurried away into the darkness as hard as he could go (The Annotated Alice, page 22) This causes the hallway to seem much larger than it originally did, for the Rabbit went “as hard as he could go” and off into the darkness too.

The only explanation I can find to where did the shore come from? is that the Rabbit could have unlocked a door, which Alice and the animals swam through. This is the most logical explanation I could discover, but then, it is not exactly a logical story.

Does anyone else have an explanation?


  1. When we think of land without water, it is just land no? However, if we put water there it becomes a shore, a beach, etc. When we change the name of something based on its surroundings it is often very confusing. Maybe, the tears flooded and then, because they were still not completely spread out then they floated for a bit. It is true though, that this is a rather ridiculous scene.

  2. I do see how this could be a problem, but as I read it I saw a perfectly reasonable explanation. I could be wrong, though.

    Alice cries a small puddle of tears which she soon shrinks down and falls into. She is still in the hall, though. The pool simply ends at a certain point- it did not fill the whole hall. A visual representation by Tenniel is even in the book. The shore is just the floor of the hall where the pool ends. When the birds and Alice exit the pool, they are still in the hall. Alice remains in the hall until after the White Rabbit returns and asks her to retrieve his things. At that point, though, the hall does strangely disappear, which I asked about in one of my blogs.


    Although, I could be wrong about this.

  3. I had that same exact thought. When I was reading Chapter 2, it seemed rather odd that Alice just wound up in a pool of her own tears, and a random shoreline appeared out of nowhere. Maybe this is the style of Carroll’s writing. Did she intend the story to be this way?

    Susan also brings up a good point in how Alice kept seeing so many doors that she could have gotten out from. However, all of the doors are locked. It seems strange that Carroll focused on only one of the doors that Alice was to unlock. Isn’t Carroll’s style of writing sort of playful in a way? Or was Carroll just bored and started kidding around?

    • I like your point about his focus on only one door. Why did he do that? It might have been because of the unusual size of the door, or maybe because it is hidden and that appeals to her young sense of adventure. What do you think?

  4. Yes I found this very strange also. She was trapped in a room and she was swimming in her tears. If the shore was not there in the beginning and the rabbit unlocked a door, the water would all drain out. I think that Carroll was trapped and he didn’t know what to do. He thought that there was no way for Alice to get out also so he just made an exit. He probably thought that since this was a children’s story than he wouldn’t have to have an explanation for this happening. Also in wonderland, anything can happen, so a shore just appearing in a room is not that strange compared to everything else that is going on.

    • Good point about the water draining out. The more comments I receive, the more I start to agree with you and others that it is only a children’s story and Carroll added the shore to get the plot moving.

  5. I have been wondering about the way things are presented in Wonderland as well. My conclusion that I have come up with is that this is written for children, so any illogical means can be overlooked or thought to be just the way Wonderland works. I had also wondered about the shore and the way pebbles turned into cake at random times. Perhaps Carroll wanted to imply some sort of magic into the queer way things happen. That would make his story more appealing to children, seeing as how many other children books also contain a bit of magic in them as well. I believe Carroll was not entirely focused on making things possible in their world and it is in ours. Wonderland is a place where logical and reasonable methods are hard to come by. However, I am glad I’m not the only one questioning some of the seemingly too coincidenal ways things tend to proceed throughout Alice’s journey.

  6. I admit I did think it was strange that a shore was suddenly there and wondered where it came from, but I didn’t really think it was something I could rationalize so I left it alone. I am pleased to see you took up the idea, I applaud your courage. I also agree with your explanation, it seems the most rational way of a shore appearing.

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