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The Wonderful Wizard of Oz | Chapter 9 : The Queen of the Field Mice | Summary

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Summary

As the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman wait for sleeping Dorothy to wake up, a wildcat chases a mouse right past them. The Tin Woodman chops off the wildcat's head. The mouse informs him that she is "Queen of all the field mice" and promises to grant him any favor he wants.

The Scarecrow quickly asks that she send for her "thousands" of subjects and for each to bring a long piece of string. Meanwhile the Tin Woodman builds a wheeled cart to which the mice attach themselves like horses. Working quickly the mice pull the cart up to the sleeping Lion. The Scarecrow and Tin Woodman help them lift him onto the cart and then help roll him out of the poppy field. Dorothy is awake, and they all sit beside the Lion until he wakes up, too.

Analysis

In Baum's Prologue to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, he mentions wishing to eliminate "all the horrible and blood-curdling incident[s]" of old-fashioned fairy tales. Child readers may feel that Baum violates this principle by having the Tin Woodman cut off the wildcat's head. Placing the novel in its historical context, however, may help explain why Baum allows his Woodman to take such violent measures. Wildcats and wolves were all-too-real threats to American farmers and ranchers; destroying them might have seemed comforting, rather than disturbing, to many young readers.

Besides, Baum does need to get the Lion out of that poppy field! By putting the mouse in the Woodman's debt, he echoes Aesop's fable about the lion and the mouse. Like Aesop's mouse the Queen of the Field Mice returns a favor by rescuing the Lion.

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