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The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

L. Frank Baum

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The Wonderful Wizard of Oz | Chapter 11 : The Wonderful City of Oz | Summary

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Summary

The Guardian of the Gates leads Dorothy and her friends through the dazzling Emerald City. Everything is green, including the skin of the people they pass. At the Emerald Palace Dorothy spends a comfortable night in a green bedchamber. The next morning the group is led to Oz's Throne Room. One by one they are taken in to speak to the Wizard.

The Wizard—who appears to Dorothy as a huge head without a body—tells her that he will not send her home until she has killed the Wicked Witch of the West and returned with proof of her death. Dorothy is disappointed and also horrified at the idea that she must kill someone.

The Wizard appears in a different form to each of the travelers, but his message is always the same: until the Wicked Witch of the West is dead, he won't grant any wishes. The friends go sadly to bed, planning to set out the next day.

Analysis

It's jarring that the giant Head tells Dorothy, "You have no right to expect me to send you back to Kansas unless you do something for me in return." This self-interested statement is unusual in the Land of Oz and unexpected in its leader. Besides she's been told to seek out the Wizard precisely because he grants wishes!

The Head goes on to say, "In this country everyone must pay for everything he gets." Really? This hasn't been true up to now. If money exists in Oz, the reader never sees it. Dorothy and her friends are never charged anything for the meals people sometimes give them on their journey; they pass no stores and have to gather their own food; and even in the more sophisticated environment of the Emerald City people seem to serve them without expecting anything in return.

But as readers know, the Wizard is actually a human from Dorothy's own world, where money is very important. His declaration is more typical of America than Oz.

What's more, Oz is well aware that he has no way of granting Dorothy's wish. By assigning her an overpowering task, he hopes to get rid of her. Like the 12 labors of Hercules or the unreasonable demands of Rumpelstiltskin, this kind of bargain is a staple of myths and folktales. As we shall see, however, Dorothy will not actually need to shed blood.

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