The Wonderful Wizard of Oz | Study Guide

L. Frank Baum

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The Wonderful Wizard of Oz | Chapter 4 : The Road Through the Forest | Summary



As they walk the Scarecrow and Dorothy learn more about each other. Dorothy explains why she wants to return to "dry, gray" Kansas, and the Scarecrow proves to be a careful listener. Then Dorothy decides they should stop to rest and eat lunch. Since the Scarecrow can't eat—his mouth is only painted on—Dorothy asks him to tell her a story. He replies that he was only made "the day before yesterday," so the only story he knows is about how he was made. So he tells Dorothy how he came to exist and how he learned that he has no brains.

Throughout the chapter the road becomes rougher and the countryside wilder. Night falls and the travelers have to pass through a dark forest. The Scarecrow and Toto both see well in the dark, but Dorothy finds it "uncomfortable walking in the dark." Finally they pass a little log cottage, where they spend the night.


Given the way Dorothy describes Kansas, it's not surprising that the Scarecrow wonders why she wants to get back there. This is the first time in the book that Dorothy utters the sentiment "There is no place like home." Notice, though, that she doesn't mention missing Uncle Henry or Aunt Em.

In keeping with many fairy tales and other children's stories, Dorothy is a protagonist without parents. This device makes it easier for both Baum and his readers. Even in a fantasy, a normal child heroine would be desperately unhappy to be separated from her parents. Young readers might also find the separation too traumatic for the book to be fun to read. Without Dorothy's parents to tie down the narrative, Baum is free to develop the plot in any direction he chooses.

Note that Baum has made Dorothy's uncle and aunt fairly unappealing. Again this means it won't seem too callous of Dorothy to occasionally forget about them. Still Dorothy's motivation to get back home drives the action of the story.

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