Chapter 6: Pig and Pepper Notes from Alice in Wonderland

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Alice in Wonderland Chapter 6: Pig and Pepper

While Alice is deciding whether to go into the house, she sees a footman (or rather, a fish dressed in the clothes of a footman) run out of the woods and up to the house to knock on the door. Another footman (this one apparently a frog) opens the door. The Fish-Footman pulls out a huge letter and announces that it is an invitation to the Duchess from the Queen to play croquet. The Frog-Footman takes the letter and the two footmen bow to each other, which tangles together the curls of their powdered wigs. Alice has to run away for a little while to keep them from hearing her laughter at this.

She returns and knocks on the door, which is now closed again. The Frog-Footman, sitting outside near the door, tells her that it's useless to knock because he is on the same side of the door as she is, and because everyone inside is making so much noise they'll never hear her. Alice does indeed hear constant howling and sneezing and the crashing of various kitchen objects. She asks the Frog-Footman how she can get in. The Footman is not helpful and decides that he will just sit outside until the next day. Just then the door opens and a large plate comes flying out of the house. The Footman ignores it, and Alice asks again how she might get in. The Footman tells her that the real question is whether she should get in at all. Alice knows this is right, but she is getting increasingly irritated by the way the creatures around her argue. The Footman concludes that he'll just sit outside for days.

Alice decides that further conversation with the Footman is useless, and she opens the door and goes in. She finds herself in a smoke-filled kitchen and begins sneezing because the air is full of pepper. In the kitchen are the Duchess, who is nursing a baby, and the Cook, who is stirring a very peppery soup, and a grinning cat. Alice tells the Duchess that she doesn't know any other cats who smile from ear to ear. The Duchess informs her that this is a Cheshire Cat and adds that Alice doesn't know much. Suddenly the cook begins hurling everything in the kitchen at the Duchess and the baby.

Topic Tracking: Knowledge 7

Worried that the baby will be killed, Alice begs the cook to mind what she's doing. This gives the Duchess the opportunity to offer one of her many morals and maxims: "'If everybody minded their own business...the world would go around a great deal faster than it does.'" Chapter 6, pg. 39 Alice is sure this would not be a good thing, so she takes the opportunity to show off some of her knowledge by explaining the problems of a fast-spinning world to the Duchess. The Duchess doesn't want to hear any of this, and after threatening to chop off Alice's head, she starts singing to her baby and shaking him violently. She throws the baby at Alice and tells the girl that she can nurse the baby if she likes, since the Duchess needs to get ready to play croquet with the Queen.

Topic Tracking: Knowledge 8

Alice decides that she better take the baby away with her before the Duchess and the Cook kill it. The baby grunts at her, and Alice looks closely to see what the matter is. His nose is turning up and his eyes are getting quite small. Finally it completely turns into a pig, and Alice feels a little stupid carrying around a pig as if she's nursing it, so she lets it run off into the woods. She concludes, "'If it had grown up...it would have made a dreadfully ugly child; but it makes rather a handsome pig, I think.'" Chapter 6, pg. 41

Suddenly Alice sees the Cheshire Cat sitting in a tree. The Cat grins at her, so Alice tentatively asks him where she should go next. When the Cat replies that that depends on where Alice wants to go. She says that she doesn't care where she goes, as long as it's somewhere. The Cat assures her that she's bound to get somewhere if she walks long enough in any direction.

Alice tries another tactic; she inquires what kind of people live in these parts. The Cat points in one direction and says that Mad Hatter lives there. In the other direction lives the March Hare. Both are raving mad, the Cat explains. Alice insists that she doesn't want to be around mad people, but the Cat insists "'we're all mad here'" and that even Alice is mad, or she wouldn't have come. Chapter 6, pg. 41

Topic Tracking: Identity 5

The Cat goes on to ask if Alice will be playing croquet with the Queen; if so, she'll see him there. The Cat promptly vanishes, and then reappears so he can ask what became of the baby. He is not surprised when Alice tells him the baby became a pig, and he vanishes again. Alice tries to decide whether it would be better to visit the Mad Hatter or the March Hare. She figures that the March Hare might not be completely mad since the month is May and not March. The Cat reappears again to ask whether Alice had said "pig" or "fig". Alice expresses her annoyance at the cat's tendency to disappear and reappear so suddenly. So this time the Cat vanishes slowly, beginning with his tail and ending with his grin, which lingers for a while after the rest of it has disappeared.

Alice goes along her way until she comes to the house of the March Hare. She can tell it's his because the house itself looks like a rabbit's head. She sees that she's too small for this house, so she nibbles on the left-hand bit of mushroom until she is two feet tall. Then she walks up to the house with trepidation.

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