Sense Of Style In Steven Pinker's 'Alice In Wonderland'

1005 Words5 Pages
Lewis Carroll’s original story of Alice in Wonderland was released in 1865 and focuses on a young girl’s adventures in a dream world in which she experiences size changes and encounters different creatures. Alice’s adventures express the importance of imagination and adventure throughout childhood, and the story acts as a progression of how children grow into adults both physically and emotionally. Carroll builds this image of Victorian England through the language he uses throughout the novel, and it is particularly evident in the conversation between Alice and the Caterpillar. In Steven Pinker’s Sense of Style, he examines the different aspects to a writer’s style, and the implications that style can have on both the writer and audience when…show more content…
Although this appears to be a simple question, Alice is unable to answer it directly. In this way, Carroll is creating an opening to discuss the larger idea of identity through the conversation of these two characters. The flow of ideas and the interchanging between third-person narration and dialogue between the characters is easy to follow and comprehend. This is enforced with the selected capitalized words that appear throughout the passage, which keeps the reader on track with what is happening in the story. These aspects of the passage and writing reflect the audience that Carroll intended this for, which reads as an easy to follow story with larger complex ideas imbedded within. Carroll’s choice to use a caterpillar to have the conversation of identity and the process of growing up with is significant, because the caterpillar will undergo a physical change into a butterfly, similar to the physical changes Alice has undergone in Wonderland. Pinker comments on the task of a writer choosing the right mechanism to present ideas, “In classic style the writer has worked hard to find something worth showing and the perfect vantage point from which to see it” (Pinker 30). Carroll has carefully selected an animal that undergoes a physical change to reflect the emotional change Alice is…show more content…
The syntax in some sentences is peculiar, and they contribute to conveying the speech of a child. For example, Alice responds to the Caterpillar, “This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, 'I—I hardly know, sir, just at present—at least I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then”(Carroll 38). The break in her thought process reveals the same confusion a child has, and the capital word “was” is stressed to place importance of the past tense. However, the last comment, “I think I must have been changed” appears to be odd in regards to syntax. That phrase is an affirmative sentence in which it has the subject, to be verb, and past participle. The arrangement of this phrase suggests that Alice firmly believes that she must have been changed
Open Document