The Wonderful Wizard of Oz | Study Guide

L. Frank Baum

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The Wonderful Wizard of Oz | Chapter 17 : How the Balloon Was Launched | Summary



Oz keeps Dorothy waiting for three days. Finally he summons her to the Throne Room to say that he thinks that a hot-air balloon is the best way to get Dorothy out of the country. He adds that he'll accompany her.

Oz and Dorothy fashion a green silk balloon and attach it to a clothes basket. Oz announces that he is leaving to visit a brother wizard and that the Scarecrow will rule in his place. As a crowd watches he fills the balloon with hot air and climbs into the basket.

But Toto has vanished into the crowd to chase a kitten. When Dorothy finally finds him and rushes back to the balloon, she's just too late: the heaving balloon snaps its guide ropes and rises into the air without her. Dorothy screams at Oz to come back, but he can't. Soon he has floated out of sight.


Although Toto doesn't play a starring role in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, his role is nonetheless crucial. He's a faithful, loving companion to Dorothy in both Kansas and Oz. He's also a bundle of energy whose impetuous actions move the book's plot along in important ways.

When the cyclone hits, Toto hides under a bed. Grabbing him costs Dorothy the precious seconds it would have taken to get into the storm cellar, and she and Toto are stuck in the house as it blows away. It's Toto who knocks over the screen in the Wizard's Throne Room and reveals him to be an ordinary little man. And it's Toto who darts off to chase a kitten just when the hot-air balloon is set to leave.

Toto is the catalyst for Dorothy's flight to the Land of Oz; he's also responsible for keeping her from climbing into Oz's balloon. Dorothy is disappointed when Oz leaves her behind, but how could she possibly have gotten back to Kansas in that balloon? Oz has no idea where Kansas is or even where he's going. Though Oz wants to help Dorothy, he's poorly equipped to do it.

Toto may be just a dog, but his instincts are key to the story. Without Toto, Dorothy might never have discovered the truth about the Wizard or the way home.

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