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Literature / The Tin Woodman Of Oz

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The Tin Woodman of Oz is the twelfth book in L. Frank Baum's Land of Oz series, released in 1918. It's subtitle is A Faithful Story of the Astonishing Adventure Undertaken by the Tin Woodman, assisted by Woot the Wanderer, the Scarecrow of Oz, and Polychrome, the Rainbow's Daughter. In this book, Baum at long last ties up some loose ends in the Tin Woodman's backstory going back to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Baum dedicated the book to his grandson, Frank Alden Baum.

A young boy from the northern Gillikin Country of Oz, Woot the Wanderer, arrives at the tin castle of the Emperor of the Winkies, the Tin Woodman. Woot is welcomed by the Tin Woodman and his guest the Scarecrow. In the course of conversation, Woot asks how the Tin Man became tin. The Emperor retells his story. Originally a normal man of flesh and blood named Nick Chopper, he had fallen in love with a Munchkin girl named Nimmie Amee. She was the oppressed servant of the Wicked Witch of the East. Nick wanted to marry Nimmie, but the Witch found out about them; she enchanted Nick's axe so that it "accidentally" cut off his leg. Nick had his missing leg replaced with a tin substitute. Nick persisted in his suit, as did the Witch in her malice. The loss of his leg was repeated with his other leg, and his arms, and so on, until he was entirely made of tin. Nimmie Amee still wanted to marry Nick; but he had no heart, and could not return her love. He went in search of a heart — but rusted in the rain, and remained motionless until Dorothy and the Scarecrow discovered him. In time the Wizard of Oz gave him a heart; it was a kind heart, but not a loving one. Woot points out that it was cruel for the Tin Woodman not to return to Nimmie and ask her to marry him; seeing the error of his ways, the three decide to find the lost Nimmie Amee. The trio set out the next day, undergoing many trials and tribulations along the way.

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Tropes

  • Baleful Polymorph: Mrs. Yoop has the power to do this to anyone; at some point before the story she captured Polychrome and turned her into a canary. She later turns the Tin Woodman into an owl, the Scarecrow into a stuffed bear, and Woot into a green monkey. Because Woot is a mortal human and not an animated non-human like Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman, Ozma has a much tougher time changing him back; only by changing Mrs. Yoop's form into Woot's and then having him swap forms with Mrs. Yoop is Ozma able to turn Mrs. Yoops Yookoohoo magic against her.
  • Beauty = Goodness: A rare aversion in Oz books is Mrs. Yoop, a very beautiful giant woman, but one of the most evil and threatening characters in the series as even Ozma has trouble undoing her magic.
  • Big Sister Is Watching: Luckily for the party, Dorothy and Ozma had been spying on them through the Magic Picture, and comes to their aid when they are unable to return to their natural forms.
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  • Broken Bird: Implied with Nimmie Amee, at least as much as is possible in a generally-upbeat setting like Oz. After having her heart broken in an extraordinarily cruel and drawn-out way not once but twice, she left home to become The Hermit. Even after finding love, getting married and settling down, she (along with her husband) no longer wants anything to do with the rest of the world.
  • Clothes Make the Superman: Mrs. Yoop's transformation powers are apparently innate, but she imprisons her captives by using a magic apron. The necessity of stealing it away from her is a significant plot point.
  • Creation Story: Oz wasn't always magical. Originally, it was just like any other country, albeit surrounded by a desert that made it hard to leave or enter the country. The fairy queen Lurline took pity on it and, while passing by, enchanted it. She left one of her fairies behind to rule it.
  • Divine Parentage: Ozma's line is descended from a fairy left by Lurline.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Mrs. Yoop is calm, well-mannered and hospitable... at least as long as everything is going her way. She also likes to irreversibly transform guests into helpless playthings and imprison them for all eternity, purely for her own amusement.
  • Frankenstein's Monster: Chopfyt, a separate being created from the spare body parts of both Nick Chopper and Captain Fyter.
  • Have You Seen My God?: The fairy Lurline used her magic to turn a normal kingdom into the fairy-land Oz. She then left and has never returned.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: When Fyter the Tin Soldier is introduced, it's clear that he also wishes to marry the Tin Man's sweetheart, Nimmie Amie. Instead of fighting about it, both tin men agree to let her choose between them, and when it turns out she's Happily Married, they respectfully agree to leave her in peace.
  • King Bob the Nth: "Ozma" is not a single person but a shared name that all rulers use. It stems back from when Lurline left a fairy behind to rule Oz.
  • Living Gasbag: The residents of Loonville are balloon people who while hostile to outsiders are easily defeated via deflation.
  • Losing Your Head: It being impossible to die in Oz even if you're torn to pieces makes it possible for the Tin Woodman to meet and converse with his own still-conscious head, kept in a cupboard all these years by the tinsmith.
  • Never Say "Die": People don't grow or get sick in Oz but they can be "totally destroyed".
  • Our Dragons Are Different: The dragons Woot the Wanderer meets underground sleep for a hundred years and only awaken to eat. They're generally not friendly to humans.
  • "Pop!" Goes the Human: The Tin Woodman, Scarecrow and Woot the Wanderer stumble upon a Wacky Wayside Tribe of balloon people called the Loons, who attempt to arrest the trio for trespassing on their town. They defeat the Loons by popping them with needles and leaving them as deflated bags of skin.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Captain Fyter is one for the Tin Woodman to Nimmie Amee. She likes him more and more as his body becomes progressively tin, because he reminds her of her first love.
  • Retcon:
    • A slight one in the Tin Woodman's backsory. In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Nimmie (then unnamed) was said to be the servant of an old woman who hired the Wicked Witch of the East to get rid of her fiancé. In the more detailed backstory given here, the old woman is retconned out, and Nimmie Amee turns out to have been the Witch's own servant.
    • Ozma is described as being a fairy, not a human.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Turns out Nimmie is happily married to Chopfyt, and wants nothing more to do with the Tin Woodman nor Captain Fyter, rendering the whole quest pointless.
  • Series Continuity Error: No one ages in Oz, however this is contradicted by previous books. For example, Ozma was born a baby and grew up normally prior to The Marvelous Land of Oz. To fix this error, future books state that people can age, but only if they want to.
  • Small, Secluded World: Nimmie Amee lives in a solitary cottage surrounded by an impenetrable barrier; it's implied that she never leaves it. She's determined that nobody will ever interfere with her life or love again, and has consequently decided to magically shut the rest of the world out.
  • Theseus' Ship Paradox: Both the Tin Woodman and the Tin Soldier Captain Fyter, who suffered an identical fate to the Tin Woodman, gradually had bits of themselves chopped off and replaced until they were entirely tin, with the old "meat" parts still being sentient. The Tin Woodman even has a brief conversation with his own head. But the tinsmith glued together pieces from both bodies to create a new man, named "Chopfyt," who lived happily ever after. Another interesting consequence to the spell that makes it impossible to die in Oz.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Chopfyt and Nimmie Amee. She's renowned for her beauty. He's made out of other people's chopped-up body parts (although to be fair he is mostly normal-looking, if grouchy).
  • Unwilling Roboticisation: Possibly the earliest example of a full-body-replacement cyborg in modern literature is the Tin Woodman. He was once a perfectly ordinary human being until a witch cursed his axe, which repeatedly attacked him to chop off his body parts. He gradually replaces his missing body piece by piece with tin prosthetics — until essentially all that was left was a mind in a tin shell.
  • Vague Age:
    • While normal for Oz characters to follow this trope since they are The Ageless, even illustrations of Woot are inconsistent; he looks like either a young child or an older teen, perhaps anywhere from 10 to 15, depending on the illustration.
    • It's stated that Ozma looks "perhaps fourteen or fifteen years of age". Her chronological age also isn't known. Neither her nor Dorothy have aged in years.
    • Dorothy is described as a little girl who is "much younger" than Ozma. Her exact physical, or chronological, age isn't mentioned.
  • Wacky Wayside Tribe: Loonville is the main wacky wayside tribe in this book, which unusually for an Oz book is a bit low on this trope.
  • Walking the Earth: Woot has chosen to spend his life wandering Oz because of Small Town Boredom.
  • We Can Rebuild Him: What Ku-Klip the tinsmith specializes in.
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