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Chapter 10

Chapter 10 - The Lobster Quadrille

Still weeping and sobbing periodically, the Mock Turtle -- with the Gryphon's help -- describes a dance which, it seems, was very popular when they were at school. The dance is called a Lobster Quadrille, and it involves marine animals dancing with lobsters on the beach, then throwing them out into the ocean, swimming out after them, bringing them back in, and dancing some more. ("The quadrille" was the name of a very complicated, and very fashionable, dance of Lewis Carroll's time; this is presumably a similar dance, only with lobsters.) The Gryphon and the Turtle demonstrate the dance for Alice, while the Turtle sings the song that goes with it. This song involves a whiting (a kind of fish) inviting a snail to join the quadrille; its repeated chorus asks "Will you, won't you, will you, won't you, won't you join the dance?"

After some more punning conversation about fish, shoes, and life above and below the ocean, the Gryphon and Mock-Turtle ask Alice to tell them about her own adventures. Alice starts to tell them about everything that has happened to her, but when she gets to the part about reciting the poem to the Caterpillar (this was back in Chapter 5), they are very interested, and ask her to recite another poem to see if this also comes out wrong.

Alice tries to recite a moralistic, anti-laziness poem which begins, "'Tis the voice of the sluggard." But when she tries to say it out loud, it comes out, "'Tis the voice of the Lobster: I heard him declare / 'You have baked me too brown, I must sugar my hair,'" and gets more nonsensical from there. The second stanza turns out to be an alarming story about an Owl and a Panther sharing a pie. Poor Alice gives up in despair, wondering if anything is ever going to happen normally again.

The Gryphon asks if Alice would rather see some more of the Lobster Quadrille, or hear the Mock Turtle sing another song. Alice eagerly requests a song (she wants no more of the Lobster Quadrille!) The Mock Turtle sings a very sad song about turtle soup, whose chorus goes, "Beautiful Soup! Soup of the evening, beautiful Soup!" Just as the Mock Turtle is starting to sing it a second time, a voice is heard far in the distance, yelling, "The trial's beginning!" The Gryphon grabs Alice's hand, shouts "Come on!" and rushes off with her toward the voice, leaving the Mock Turtle singing disconsolately behind them.

Browse all book notes

Historical Context
Main Characters
Points to Ponder
Did You Know?
Plot Summary
Opening Poem
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12


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