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Chapter 5

Chapter 5 - Advice from a Caterpillar

After a while, the Caterpillar takes its pipe out of its mouth and calmly begins to interrogate Alice. Even its simple question -- "Who are you?" -- is very difficult for poor Alice, however, since she has changed size (and other things) so many times today that she isn't sure any more who she is. When Alice explains that she can't seem to remember anything right, the Caterpillar asks her to recite a poem called "You Are Old, Father William." This is supposed to be a moralistic poem about a saintly old man, but when Alice tries to recite it, it comes out as satirical nonsense.

The Caterpillar speaks to Alice in a confusing and condescending way, and Alice finds herself getting angry -- and when it advises her that she ought to keep her temper, this irritates her even more. Finally, she learns to be patient with the Caterpillar, and this works a little better. After dropping a few more cryptic remarks, the Caterpillar eventually crawls away into the grass, telling Alice, "One side will make you grow taller, and the other side will make you grow shorter."

Alice puzzles over this until she decides that the Caterpillar must be talking about the mushroom it has been sitting on. She yanks off two handfuls of mushroom, one from either side, and nibbles on one. It makes her grow taller very suddenly -- her neck shoots way up above the trees, where her head swoops around like a snake's! Alice is suddenly attacked by a mother Pigeon, which believes she is a serpent who has come to eat her eggs. After convincing the Pigeon -- with difficulty -- that she is really just a little girl, Alice crouches down among the trees until she can reach her hands again, and nibbles on the two pieces of mushroom until she comes back down to her normal height. She heads off to try to find the beautiful garden she's been looking for, but comes into a clearing in which stands a house only four feet tall. Reducing her size by nibbling on the mushroom, Alice brings herself back down to nine inches tall and walks up to the house.

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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