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The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

L. Frank Baum

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The Wonderful Wizard of Oz | Chapter 22 : The Country of the Quadlings | Summary

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Summary

One last hurdle awaits Dorothy and her friends. Before they can reach the Witch of the South, they need to deal with the Hammer-Heads—a tribe of armless beings with stretchable necks who use their heads like clubs. There seems no chance of getting past them until the Scarecrow remembers that Dorothy has one last chance to summon the Winged Monkeys. This she does and the monkeys fly the travelers safely to the country of the Quadlings, where the inhabitants wear bright red and the buildings are painted the same color.

A kindly farmer's wife gives the friends a good dinner and tells them that the Castle of Glinda is not far away. They set out again and soon reach a beautiful castle where three young girls are standing guard. One of them goes in to check with Glinda and comes back to say that the witch will see the travelers immediately.

Analysis

When Baum wrote The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, "Hammer-head" meant "blockhead" or "simpleton." Baum's Hammer-Heads literally use their heads as weapons, which is how a child might interpret the term. The Hammer-Heads are the first of various "Wild Men" that appear throughout the Oz series. These Wild Men are tribes of humanoid beings who try to appear threatening but always turn out to be inadvertently comical.

The Quadlings don't try to frighten; they're too good-natured. Notice that the farmer's wife gives the travelers "a good dinner, with three kinds of cake and four kinds of cookies." (No wonder the Quadlings are chubby!) These pleasant details banish any lingering dread caused by fighting trees, monstrous spiders, and hammer-headed wild men.

The young female soldiers may have been based on a female drill team Baum had seen in South Dakota: the Aberdeen Guards. Though Baum found the Aberdeen Guards ridiculous, here he presents Glinda's soldiers without irony. Young girls can appreciate the nonstereotyped roles granted to female characters.

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