Ozathon #2: The Marvelous Land of Oz

 The Marvelous Land of Oz, by L. Frank Baum, illustrated by John R. Neill

Dorothy has gone home, but the land of Oz continues!  Baum was inundated with letters begging for more, so he wrote a sequel, in which he introduces a whole slew of new characters.  I remember this story very well; I must have read it many times as a kid.  It was fun to get an adult perspective on the story.

We start off with old Mombi, a would-be wicked witch whose ambition is held down by the local Good Witch.  (Mombi lives in the land of the Gillikins, which is all purple.)  She has a boy, Tip, who she uses as a slave, and when she's gone on a trip, he makes a jack o'lantern, gives him a body of sticks, and sets his pumpkin man up to scare Mombi on her way back.  She turns the tables on him by using her new Powder of Life to bring Jack to life, and then imprisons them both.  Tip and Jack escape and figure they might as well head to the city of Oz, and on the way Tip brings a wooden sawhorse to life.  The Saw-Horse is grumpy but fast, and they reach Oz in no time.  On the way, though, Tip meets General Jinjur, who is about to invade the city and take it over in the name of vanity and idleness....

There are lots of adventures with the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, the Highly Magnified Woggle-Bug, and the Gump -- a creature they build in order to escape Jinjur.  Together they improvise, co-operate, and call upon friends to help them find safety and save the city of Oz -- though not in order to put the Scarecrow back on the throne.

Baum pokes a little gentle fun at most of the characters; all of them are wont to think that their own specialties are the most important things in life.  The Tin Man and the Scarecrow love to vaunt their heart and brains, while the Woggle-Bug irritates everyone with his education and puns.  Jack Pumpkinhead is always anxious that whatever is happening will be bad for pumpkins.  And Tip is just a nice little boy (or is he?), bubbling over with ideas.  This is a story MacGyver would enjoy, with lots of inventiveness.

I've heard some people say that Baum was poking fun at suffragists with General Jinjur, and I don't think that's true.  He's not opposed to women wielding power in Oz (see Glinda, other Good Witches, and Ozma).  Jinjur isn't interested in good governance, or in Oz at all; she wants to get out of doing her chores and wear the gems of Oz on her person instead of having them decorate the city.  Everybody has to do chores -- even the menfolk.  

There is, however, a nice sharp comment at one point, when a man tells the Scarecrow:

"...I'm glad you have decided to come back and restore order, for doing housework and minding the children is wearing out the strength of every man in the Emerald City."

"Hm!" said the Scarecrow thoughtfully.  "If it is such hard work as you say, how did the women manage it so easily?"

"I really do not know," replied the man, with a deep sigh.  "Perhaps the women are made of cast-iron."

Back then, housework did in fact require a constitution of cast-iron!


  1. I'm reading and enjoying this one now for the first time.

  2. My thought this time around is that Baum is satirizing what many people at the time probably thought about suffragettes in Jinjur's army -- that they were vain, frivolous, and superficial. Plus, when I found out this sequel followed a hit musical made from the first book, and was designed to be material for another musical, it made much more sense to me. (The Army of Revolt being an opportunity for a large girl chorus.)

    1. Yes, I think that's a good analysis. I have a hard time remembering what people thought of suffragettes!


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