Sunday, October 11, 2009


"Who are you?" said the Caterpillar.


"You!" said the Caterpillar contemptuously. "Who are you?"


One side will make you grow taller, and the other side will make you grow shorter. 

The Caterpillar’s Mushroom
Like the garden, the Caterpillar’s mushroom also has multiple symbolic meanings. Some readers and critics view the Caterpillar as a sexual threat, its phallic shape a symbol of sexual virility. The Caterpillar’s mushroom connects to this symbolic meaning. Alice must master the properties of the mushroom to gain control over her fluctuating size, which represents the bodily frustrations that accompany puberty. Others view the mushroom as a psychedelic hallucinogen that compounds Alice’s surreal and distorted perception of Wonderland.

Before now, I hadn't thought much about the symbolism behind Alice's story. These theories on the caterpillar's mushroom were an interesting find for me. I tend to agree with the idea of Alice battling puberty.

What way do you see the caterpillar's mushroom? 

Hey, check out Book on the Hill's post with a recipe for Caterpillar's Salad (aka mushroom salad).

*source mushroom image

October 7 - 14, 2009


  1. Mary D
    zenrei57 (at) hotmail (dot) com

    You know, that's funny because now that you point it out - the correlation is so obvious. But I never noticed it before! BTW - I recently picked up at a rummage sale an old copy of Alice Through The Looking Glass but have not read it yet. :)

  2. I hadn't thought about the meaning behind the mushroom in that sense, that's interesting.
    And thank you for the link ! ;)

  3. I always thought the mushrooms were a part of the trip factor. Cool post, V!

  4. It's passages like the one in spark notes that really turned me off of literary interpretation.

    Sure, that symbolism can be applied to the story, but I promise it wasn't the intent. Alice was a story told on a boat trip to entertain a girl. It was made up on the go, I'm sure he wasn't thinking about pubescent symbolism :)

    THAT SAID...I do find the ideas presented in literary interpretations to be fascinating. It's an interesting reading of the scene.

  5. Brian - good point. Funny how critiques and theories abound with literature. In a way it is a way to re-image stories with the possible hidden motives.

  6. problem with something like spark notes, or the way books are taught in high school, is that the presentation is more factual. "THIS IS WHAT IT MEANS" kind of thing. To non-readers, it makes books feel very inaccessible when they are not.

    For readers and book lovers, I can provide new ways of looking at scenes. But literary interpretation is first and foremost about the concept or idea that the interpreter is trying to present and often has very little to do with the actual text.


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