The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum | Book Review
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is certainly popular among kids, and I can see the appeal. However, I do not understand why the adults love the book.
Maybe it is just nostalgia because the story is plain and light-hearted.
Writing is hard. Writing that looks easy is harder. But writing that is predictable is not that hard.
By writing, I mean creating the story. Writing itself is hard.
You follow some rules and break some. The motivation is simple, and the story is as basic as it goes.
Nothing is original. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz premises is an adventure journey – similar to Lord of the Ring.
Kill the bad person with the help of good friends you find on the road to find the way to your home. But LoTR is a thick three-part story while Wonderful Wizard of Oz is so short you can complete it in 1 hour.
What is the story?
Like Narnia, a girl went to the fantasy land called Oz. Her house dropped on the witch, and everyone assumed she was the savior.
The land is divided into four corners and one center. The wicked witches ruled two corners, and two are under good witches.
Center is under the control of The Wizard.
Dorothy wants to go back to her home – Kansas. No one knows, and they suggest the Wizard will do it.
So the journey begins to Emerald City, where the Wizard rules. On the way, she meets:
- Scarecrow without brain
- Tinman without heart
- Lion without courage
They accompany the Dorothy as they also want something from Wizard:
- Scarecrow wants brain
- Tinman want heart
- Lion wants courage
Once they reached the palace, Oz asked them to kill the next wicked witch to clean Oz from evil.
Reluctantly they do.
On the route, they meet Winged Monkeys, Mice, Poppy Flowers, etc.
It’s the coupon plotting. Once one task is completed, another task has to be completed to reach the target.
Once the witch is dead, they return to the Emerald City to receive their rewards.
There is some surprise, but not that suspenseful.
You have what you want!
The lesson of the story is you already have what you want.
The Scarecrow wanted a brain to make wise decisions and be innovative. But he was already making the right decision and giving solutions to the problems.
The Tinman wanted to have the heart to feel love and emotion. But he was already affected by the misery of his fellow friends and loved them.
The Lion wanted the brave heart to become the King he is supposed to be. But he was already doing scary things and being courageous.
Similarly, in the end, Dorothy learns she already has what she needs to reach home. She just had to learn it.
Home is Home
The surprising, complex, and unexplained part of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is the persistence of Dorothy to go home.
Dorothy says: There is no place like home.
But what is home?
Is it the building or the people? For Dorothy, it seems like her Aunt Em was her home.
The building was with her in Oz. The dog was here.
Oz was beautiful. Everyone was kind and helpful. She was influential in Oz – with the silver shoes and magic cap.
She could have easily ruled the kingdom after the Wizard left.
Everything she could desire is available at her command. But she wants to go home, where she is an orphan, and live with Aunt Em.
There is no one as far as she looks. Everything is gray – the field, her uncle, her aunt, and there is only one room to live and cook.
Still, she overcame all the problems, evil and witches, to reach home.
Because home is home.
Indeed the message is that you should always return home. It does not matter how good your life becomes and how terrible your life at home is; the home is where you end up.
Another angle to look at is that the home lives with you. Dorothy can go anywhere in the world, but her home will always be waiting for her. She can have all the adventures and fun – but the boring, dull, and gray home is your final destination.
Maybe the home is death where we all end up one day. The world is Oz with some good people, some bad people, and some fake people.
You are always dead, and you are given sentience for a fraction of time. During this time, you can make friends, help people, and earn power and authority.
But you will return to your demise. A place where you are nothing and everything is gray. What matters is if you made friends on your journey.
There are so many ways to look at it. The concept of home is always alluring to the writers.
Do I suggest The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum?
Yes, sure. It is a quick read and so popular that you can boast about reading it in childhood. You will learn a few things about honesty, friendship, and innocence.
Read to your kids or parents – that would be a great experience.
There is also a movie I think I will watch.