The Wonderful Wizard of Oz | Study Guide

L. Frank Baum

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The Wonderful Wizard of Oz | Chapter 5 : The Rescue of the Tin Woodman | Summary



In the morning the travelers leave the cottage and head for the yellow brick road. Before they've gotten far, they hear a groan. They follow the sound and find a man made of tin standing motionless. He begs Dorothy to find the oil can in his cottage and oil his joints. She hurries to comply. When the Tin Woodman can move and speak again, he asks to accompany the travelers in the hope of getting Oz to give him a heart.

As the Tin Woodman chops a path through the forest, he tells the travelers how a spell cast by the Wicked Witch of the East gradually turned him from a real woodman into a tin one. He and the Scarecrow disagree about whether a brain or a heart will bring more happiness. As they talk Dorothy silently wonders what she and Toto are going to do about food.


Like the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman needs healing to become whole. Some critics have noted that his struggles have an element of traditional male/female conflict. In folk mythology wood chopping (an aggressive act) is reserved for men. The witch's spell causes the Tin Woodman to turn his aggression (that is, his axe) on himself.

The Tin Woodman believes that because he has no heart, he has no feelings. In fact his frequent tears prove that he is a loving, caring being. But each time he expresses the emotion of sadness, the Tin Woodman becomes paralyzed by rust. His true difficulty—as at least one critic has pointed out—is that his feelings render him powerless. What the Wizard will actually provide him is the ability to accept the loving side of his nature.

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