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Headscratchers: Land of Oz

  • Am I the only one who was bugged by the fact that Ozma retained none of her personality she had as Tip, I mean she turned into an unrecognizable character.
    • You're not the only one. The only reason I can imagine for having Tip be a boy in the first place is to attempt to make the book seem different from the original. Of course, this adds the question of why Baum didn't have him rule as King and marry Dorothy, just for kicks.
      • The "why not marry Dorothy" question is easily answered: Baum was convinced the children who read his books didn't care much for romance, so for the most part he didn't include it. Note how none of Baum's major characters ever get married (not even the Tin Woodman marries his former love, and Scraps and the Scarecrow never move beyond "just friends"); romance and marriage are for secondary and minor characters only. Marrying Dorothy off would be unthinkable to Baum, because she was the character the children identified with.
      • Also, Dorothy was a little girl at the time. Even back then, child marriage was probably pretty creepy.
    • This really is a common problem with the Gender Bender trope, amplified by the fact that some writers (presumably Baum too) didn't even try to consider the realistic consequences of the transformation. You could argue that perhaps Ozma's transformation into Tip as an infant created a completely different person, but that leads to even more Just-Bugs-Me-ness when we start wondering how the "Ozma" personality matured at all without social interaction when the "Tip" personality was dominant, and whether the reversal of the spell effectively destroyed Tip (and if it was moral to do so).
      • Ozma does directly state, just moments after the transformation, that she is the same person as Tip — so unless she was lying, that can't be it. I remember reading a non-canonical Oz book written by Marc Laumer, where Ozma confesses to the Shaggy Man that she still thinks of herself as the boy Tip, and that the "Ozma" persona is more or less an act. This is probably not canon to Baum's story, but it does in a way make sense.
      • Edward Einhorn wrote a short story called "Ozma Sees Herself" which was an attempt to bridge the gap between the two characters.
      • Tip can be considered the animus to Ozma, what the young ruler would have become had fate decried Pastoria's child to be a boy.
      • Great, now whenever I think about that book I'll be thinking of how a kid's soul was written over like tape!
      • Aw, I don't think you have to worry about that. Consider Ozma's direct words, the first thing she says as a girl:
        "I hope none of you will care less for me than you did before. I'm just the same Tip, you know; only—only—"
        "Only you're different!" said the Pumpkinhead; and everyone thought it was the wisest speech he had ever made.
      • Certainly sounds to me like a confirmation that she is still the same person underneath all the changes. If her behavior is different... well, it might, like the earlier troper suggested, be an act (based on how Ozma thinks princesses are supposed to behave), or she simply changed over time. It's been known to happen.
    • Another possible explanation, if one is willing to apply the Literary Agent Hypothesis, is that Tip wasn't actually as happy as Baum suggested — she was essentially living as a pre-op transsexual the entire length of her boyhood. Certainly, beyond her initial objections about "not wanting to be a girl", she seems perfectly content as Ozma. ... Of course, now I'm half-expecting someone to write a Fanfic exploring this, since I put it out there.
      • I think one of the non-canon books takes a crack at it: that in fact Tip and Ozma are two distinct people. The boy was born at the same time as the girl; when Mombi enchanted the infant Ozma she kept her soul but swapped her body with Tip's, rather like switching a can of Coke for one of Pepsi, but still keeping the Coke inside. For all intents and purposes Ozma really was Tip (and vice versa), her soul had had to adapt to the wrong body. She was used to being a boy, but ultimately glad to get back into her proper form.

  • Why did Ozma go to all that trouble to rescue the royal family of Ev. And wasn't Oz supposed to be isolated.
    • Ev is across the Deadly Desert from Oz. Ozma and her entourage went on a magic carpet that shielded them from the desert. As for why, perhaps to do good?
    • Ev may also be a long-time ally of Oz, just as the Nome Kingdom has been Oz's enemy.

  • Am I the only one who thought that there was a bit of a cop out in the later books, in the first book witches were able to be good or bad and two of the four most powerful ones were good, but in the later books Glinda isn't a witch and witches are old hags. Why Baum? Why?
    • I don't think it ever says that Glinda isn't a witch; she remains the Witch of the South, and it seems like they use the term "sorceress" as another word for "witch."

  • Did the sequels ever explain why the Scarecrow was able to walk and talk? I know that the sequels also show that Baum was very fond of the fantasy that some kind of inanimate object would be able to walk and talk and be friends with humans. But in the sequels, it appears he began to feel that if you're going to write a story about an animated stick figure with a jack-o-lantern for a head, it might be better to have there be some reason for such an unusual creature to exist. I think he would have done the same with the Scarecrow if he were writing it at a later date. But in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the Scarecrow's story makes it sound like he was made by a farmer who was just trying to make an ordinary scarecrow (and was completely unaware that the Scarecrow was sentient)—and for no apparent reason, the Scarecrow thus created was fully capable of conscious thought despite having no brains. So did he ever go back and put in some retcon explanation, to answer the question, Why does the Scarecrow exist?
    • I think one of the Oz books after Baum's death explained that the Scarecrow's soul came from a monarch from another kingdom. Still, this being Oz, "A Wizard Did It" is the perhaps the best explanation.
      • The book is The Royal Book of Oz, the first by Ruth Plumly Thompson. The monarch was Emperor Chang Wang Woe of the Silver Islands, an underground Oz kingdom similar to medieval China. Chang's soul rose "skyward" from directly under Munchkinland and inhabited the Scarecrow, though he had/has no memory of his previous life—and no interest in returning to it.
    • If you check his origin story, he came "alive" just as they were painting his face. I suppose the farmers unwittingly used magic paint.
      • See The Royal Book of Oz data above.
    • Supposedly, no one ever dies in Oz. Maybe that extends to the straw used to fill up the Scarecrow, and, having been given a humanoid form, that straw is able to move around and talk for the first time.

  • Why does no one ever call the Wizard out for you know, OVER THROWING THE ROYAL FAMILY AND DECIVING THE POPULACE OF OZ FOR YEARS? Ozma seems pretty accepting of THE MAN WHO KILLED HER FATHER!!!! Why does nobody care about what he did!
    • Because he didn't. The Wicked Witches did, and then he arrived. Yes, I know there are books where it's said he did it. Consistency was not Baum's long suit.
    • Oscar Diggs was also exposed as a fraud, sent back to Omaha, was a washed-up con artist there, and had to come crawling back to Ozma after he had protected Dorothy from some Ozian hazards. He was ruined; what was to gain by punishing him further?
    • Baum and his fellow Royal Historians of Oz were not, as the above Troper remarked, known for their strong dedication to consistency and continuity, but the general gist of the story, as patched together from several books, seems to be as follows: Around the time the Wizard arrived in Oz and took power, The four Wicked Witches banded together to dispose of King Pastoria — and the final "blow" was delivered by Mombi, who did not kill the king but transformed him into a tailor with no memory that he had been a king in the first place. The Wizard, coming to a country without a king, and mistaken for a great wizard by the Ozzians since he arrived in a balloon, had little problem taking over. However, for some reason the witches had not managed to dispose of little Ozma (who was just a baby at the time), and the Wizard was afraid that the Princess would grow up and take his throne from him, or possibly expose him as a fraud, and so he delivered her to Mombi (whether he knew Mombi's role in the King's disappearance is never stated). So the Wizard was guilty of fraud and probably kidnap, as well as indirectly responsible for Ozma's miserable childhood as Tip, but not of murder. And Ozzians are all about forgiveness and reformation; they don't punish unless they have to, they don't seek revenge and they don't, in general, hold grudges for very long. Since the Wizard was a reformed character — and during his rule had done a lot of good things for the country as well — he was welcomed back to the Emerald City.
    • The out-of-universe answer is that Baum gave the Wizard some Kick the Dog moments in the backstory presented in Marvelous Land to better fit with the musical, in which the Wicked Witch of the West was left out and the Wizard was the villain of the story. It didn't stick, and by Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz he revised the Wizard into a more sympathetic figure, quietly retconning the backstory. Ozma tells him a part of the revised backstory, though she never mentions how, in the new version, she was kidnapped by Mombi to be disguised as a boy. I think if Baum ever got to writing that, he would, in his usual fashion, quietly forget about the Wizard willingly giving Ozma away and write something different.

  • In "The Marvelous Land of Oz," Glinda says, "I never deal in transformations, for they are not honest, and no respectable sorceress likes to make things appear to be what they are not. Only unscrupulous witches use the art..." but in later books by Ruth Plumly Thompson, Ozma routinely uses transformation to dispose of inconvenient enemies, for example turning robbers into peaceful Winkie farmers.
    • Even Baum's Ozma is a fan of brainwashing enemies by having them drink from the Fountain of Oblivion, which wipes their memories. She is quite a tyrant.
      • She figured that was better than putting them to death, a Reset Button for their lives.
    • Thompson didn't really "get" Oz the way Baum did. Her books are more glorified travelogues with Excuse Plots that tend to be resolved hastily and with little thought.
      • And Baum's aren't? You've just described Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz, The Emerald City of Oz, The Tin Woodman of Oz and who knows what else.

  • How does one get to Oz besides getting sucked up by a tornado? Do they trip and fall into a plothole?
    • Hot air balloon.
    • Let's see... the Wizard got there by hot air balloon. Dorothy ended up in Oz on several occasions — once by the famous tornado; twice she got into other mishaps (a shipwreck and an earthquake) and eventually ended up by the Deadly Desert surrounding Oz, which she both times had magical help in crossing, and twice Ozma teleported her there by means of magic belt. Most other visitors to Oz generally end up there by getting into a life-threatening situation (a storm, a whirlpool, accidentally saying a magic word) and are saved by pure chance, finding themselves in a fantasy land or other, whereupon they meet and befriend a native of Oz, who generally takes them to the Emerald City in order to ask Ozma to either send them back home or let them stay in Oz. There are a few exceptions, but that seems to be the most common way.

  • Where does Princess Langwidere the head-changer keep her brain? If each of her heads has one, how come she stays the same person upon changing them — and how would her plan to exchange heads with Dorothy work?
    • The same question applies when Jack Pumpkinhead changes his head for a fresh one. Also, in The Tin Woodman of Oz, when they found Nick Chopper's disembodied head in the cupboard of the tinsmith, was he the real Nick Chopper? Was the Tin Woodman just a new creation with memories somehow downloaded into his head?
      • In 1/0 strip 660 ([1]) they decide that Zadok's personality isn't chained to any particular body part, it remains there if at least half of his body is intact. This makes a lots of sense if you think how in the real world a human can keep his personality even if many cells of his brain die every day.
      • Well, Jack Pumpkinhead isn't human — Tip sprinkled him whole with the Powder of Life, so presumably his "life-essence" is distributed through his entire body, with no single part containing his identity. Same for the Tin Woodman's artificial body, even if he was human once.

  • So, does Dorothy still have the protective charm of the good witch of the North in later books? I haven't read them so I don't know if it is mentioned, but when you think about it, it would explain why she keeps surviving such crazy adventures. Plus, it's not like these things have an expiration date.
    • I always assumed that it was destroyed when she returned to Kansas, since Kansas isn't a Fairy Land.
    • Yes, she does. As all Ozophiles know, Oz is studded with lots of nutty little enclaves. In one of the *much* later stories, Dorothy strays into an enclave that is color-coded black, just the way the major parts of Oz are color-coded blue, red, yellow, purple, or green. The queen of the place (or perhaps the magic of the place itself) turns Dorothy and any companions solid black — except for the place on her forehead where the Good Witch of the North kissed her, which shines like a star. This really upsets the queen, as I recall.

  • Glinda's attitude towards the Scarecrow changes without explanation between the first two books. In the first, she summons the Winged Monkeys to carry him to the throne the Wizard passed to him. But in the second, after Jinjur overthrows the Scarecrow, Glinda refuses to reinstate him because the throne isn't rightfully his, but Ozma's. You know, that would be helpful to know earlier. Logic much?
    • Let's see now. After the Wizard had left, there was something of a power vacuum. At the time, Glinda did not know what happened to young Ozma, but she would have recognized the importance of giving the Ozites a leader they could trust. The Scarecrow had proven himself useful, and wise enough to run things for the time being, so it would make sense for him to be in charge, at least temporarily. No doubt Glinda would have explained it to the Scarecrow later on; Jinjur's invasion simply sped things up.
      • As much of Oz had been under the oppression of the Witches, any search for the lost princess must have been difficult at best, even for Glinda.
    • It makes more sense if you think of both the Wizard and the Scarecrow as Regents, not kings. They only held the throne until the legitimate heir was available.

  • Why didn't Glinda overthrow the Wicked Witches all by herself, even before Dorothy arrived? Judging by the stuff she pulls off in the later books, she's more powerful than both of them combined.
    • That's the later books. Glinda may not have been as powerful back in the first book; she could have learned more and gained more magic later on. Granted, even in the first book she is named as the most powerful Witch in Oz, but it's not said how much more powerful she is than the other three. The two Wicked Witches together might have been too much for her, so she may have simply focused on keeping her domain in the South safe rather than risking a confrontation with an uncertain outcome.
Kushiel's LegacyHeadscratchers/LiteratureThe Wonderful Wizard of Oz

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