Posted by: Brittany M | November 16, 2009

Hookah for the Soul

There has been a constant blogging battle about whether or not Lewis Carroll is showing support for hookah-usage for minors in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

The truth is we simply do not know.

Although everyone may have their own opinion of whether he is or not we simply do not know. I do not think he is advertising hookah for children but  putting in a little piece of reality. Alice never smokes the hookah and is never offered a smoke but simply watches the catipiller smoke. It is still a good children’s book although it refers to drugs but honestly, drugs are a big part of life. Hookah has been around for 600 years and at one point in time was considered a delicacy of the upper class Turks. Drugs are a battle that almost all humans face at least once in  life so why can’t it be used in a children’s book? If children’s books really are meant for teaching children morals and life lessons why not include drugs?

Although drugs are constantly portrayed as a negative experience in life, many positive things have come out of people under the influence of drugs. Brandon Boyd, the singer of the band Incubus, has said to have written nearly all of his songs while high off of drugs. Lil’ Wayne is a popular rapper who is almost constantly seen smoking one type of drug or another in public and will admit to writing raps while under the influence of drugs. I’m not saying that I support drug usage ,but not all humans use drugs abusively. Many writers have written masterful songs while under the influence of one drug or another but does it make drug usage right?

Considering this and seeing the popularity of drugs in the news and celebrity gossip, does it make it bad to bring up the subject to children at such a  young age?



  1. I agree with Mr. Long–my sense is that at Carroll’s time this was more associated with an exotic locale–like French Morocco, maybe– rather than him advocating for “drug use”.

  2. True, while many people have created works of art while under the influence of drugs, I do not think that is what Carroll had in mind for his reader to interpret the Caterpillar. The Caterpillar is one of those patient wise men so to speak that a hero goes to for advise. Alice’s quest is to find out who she is, not to go of and get high. But you have interpreted this section in your own mind and came out with a conclusion.
    P.S. Hookah back then was not a drug, but a water-pipe.

  3. I don’t think that just because someone is exposed to drugs, violence, cursing, or sex in movies, books, music, whatever, will cause them to go out and do those things. Even if marijuana was legalized, that doesn’t mean that every man, women, and child would be walking around baked. We would not have a lot of great music, art, books, and other media. There is no way you can listen to anything by some artists and deny that they were not on something when writing the song (perfect example: look up pretty much any song by Buckethead). I’m not saying that drugs are a good thing, but i’m saying that many of them may not be the horrible thing that many people make them seem like. Plus, most kids reading the story would probably not even notice the drug reference, let alone understand it. As said in the blog, you will hear about more drugs in the news in an hour then in this whole story. While drugs are not good, they may not be as bad as everyone says they are. In case you were wondering, here is a picture of Buckethead:

  4. It would most intriguing to go back in time, say the late 1800’s when this book was recently published, and get a sense of what the average reader (old or not) intuited when the caterpillar sat atop the mushroom with hookah in hand. Is it possible that our own 2009 biases draw conclusions that Carroll and his audience never intended? Was it very real but not even within the realm of a child’s imagination to grasp? Or was it exactly as one’s worst assumptions — today — senses?

  5. I think that you’ve hit the nail on the head, Brittany. Yes, drugs are bad, but I agree with you in the sense of with the morals, and maybe introducing them. The sooner parents introduce the idea of drugs and not abuse them ever, the less likely their children are to try them. Maybe there is some sense in his madness.

  6. This same point of contention is the same reason that plenty of people have battled to legalize marijuana. Cannabis is one of the least dependency-inducing drugs, and also one of the least harmful. That being said, spending your Saturday nights delireous on a couch talking with your friends about what you’re seeing probably isn’t the best use of your time. I personally believe that the drug should be legalized, since the drug also has several well-documented medical uses. This does not, however, mean I want to use the drug myself, as I can easily think of better things to do than smoke marijuana. However, the fact remains that not only will marijuana be grouped with all other hallucinogens, most other drugs are quite harmful, such as heroin. The concept of “introductory” drugs has merit, and I don’t want to have victims of a misguided medical program clogging up the rehab centers. However, I think that the drug in question, cannabis, does have uses, and should be prescribed in appropriate cases.

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