Chapter six “Pig and Pepper”
In this chapter, Alice meets the Duchess, the Cook, the crying baby who turns into a pig, and the smiling Cheshire Cat. This is a wonderful chapter full of clever conversation and changing scenes, and should be read aloud by the students for maximum enjoyment.
When Alice first sees the Duchess, she is holding the howling, sneezing baby, while the Cook continues to add more pepper to the soup. While crockery flies about, The Duchess sings a lullaby of sorts to the baby. The poem is almost similar to chanting poems in folktales, setting a spell. However, this poem does the opposite. Instead of being soothed, the baby only cries the harder.
Suggested questions for discussion are to help the students understand the shifts in scene and the transformations, as well as to point out some of the differences between this book and folktales.
What happens to the baby when Alice holds it? Does this remind the students of any folktales? How quickly does the baby change? What is Alice’s reaction? Why is she not upset? Why is she relieved? Why does Alice talk to herself so much? Does she mind being alone? The loneliness Alice feels at times in Wonderland make her more real to us. The children can all understand and sympathize with Alice’s plight being alone. What happens with the Cheshire Cat? Are the students surprised when it speaks? If not, why not? Does the Cat remind them of any folktales? Point out the visual picture evoked by the Cat’s fading in and out the way it does, and note Alice’s reaction. What is one major difference between Alice and the folk heroines familiar to the class?