Posted by: Brendon O-L. | November 16, 2009

The Peppery Pig

In chapter 6, Alice wanders up to the Duchess’ house. When she walks in she see the Duchess, a cook, the Cheshire Cat, and a baby (which the Duchess is holding). Later in the chapter, the baby turns in a pig.

To many people, this just seems to be some random event, but it is much more. Carroll is again making a subtle remark about man.

Pigs are unsanitary and often represent ignorance, sloth,  greed, and evil. Babies are the opposite. They are regarded as innocent and pure.

At one point, the Cat asks Alice what became of the baby.

“By-the-bye, what became of the baby?” said the Cat. “I’d nearly forgotten to ask.”

“It turned into a pig” Alice answered very quietly.

“I thought it would,” said the Cat.

This is where bells and whistles went off in my head. Why would Carroll have the Cat ask about the baby if it was not important? Carroll is once again comparing and contrasting children and adults.

The baby is being nutured by the Duchess, who eventually throws the baby to Alice. At first, the baby is completely normal and innocent, but Alice notices the baby’s gradual transformation into the evil animal. It does not just suddenly turn into a pig.  This desciption implies that the innocence of children and the changes they undergo as they grow into adults occur over time.

Carroll makes one more implication through the dialogue between Alice and the Cat. The Cat says he expected it to transform into a pig. This suggests that most children become vile creatures.

The innocent turns into the ignorant. The pure turns into the lazy and greedy.

Note: See my other posts called “What is the Difference?” and “Adults Are Really Just Big Kids,” for more on childhood versus adulthood.


Responses

  1. Children turning from sweet innocent things into ugly greedy horror-able creatures is a shock if you have no knowledge about Carroll’s ideas and opinions. Carroll hated woman of his own age because he thought of them as impure, but he love children because he thought that they were pure. So this pure child turning into a pig does reflects Carroll’s opinions. This is an important point because he is hinting that Alice is a pure, innocent girl in an impure world. So therefore, is Carroll applying that Wonderland is an impure world, or that the characters are impure?

  2. I think that the connection you make here is very astute and intelligent. However, does this not seem a little pessimistic to you? Often the idea of pure and innocent was associated with young girls who, as we all know, Carroll enjoyed. However, the pig was created from a boy. He has the idea that boys were lazy, ignorant, repugnant. The idea that girls are pure and innocent has been and probably always will be the foundation of all stereotypes.

  3. A very good concept. I think this may have been one of the elements that steered Carroll in this direction.

    Although, if this was in fact Carroll’s intention, it would have been a very random message to insert. What I mean is, why would he have just slipped this in at this point with no preliminary or following explanations? This was one of the most abstract points in the story, in my opinion.

  4. This is an interesting point. While I had noticed the significance of the baby to pig transformation, I found your post to explain it in amazing detail. Perhaps it is because Carroll had such a love of the purity and innocence of little girls that he felt so strongly about what they became as they grew up. But if he is expounding on the depravity of the adult world, then isn’t he himself included in that category? Perhaps as the author he can expound on any opinion he likes, hypocritical or not but who knows, it’s an interesting rabbit to chase.

    • That is a very good point. Carroll would have been included in the adult category, but he may just be writing from a theoretical viewpoint. Maybe, he is unable to apply the concepts that he, himself, writes about. He could have felt that he was an exception to this generalization. Perhaps, he was a hypocrite. If he was, does that take away the story’s significance?

  5. I like your point you made in this blog, but I have to disagree on one thing. I was reading this before it was posted and you, Rachel, and I had a disagreement about when you said, “This suggests that most children become vile creatures.” I believe that Carroll is talking about how most boys turn into vile creatures, not just children in general. Though you had a good point that in the actual text there was nothing that said the pig was a boy, even though in the annotations it talks about how the pig was a boy. Besides this, I really thought your blog was interesting and can see where you are coming from. I will continue to think more about this. I hope sometime soon we can get back to our discussion about this.


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