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The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

L. Frank Baum

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Course Hero, "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Study Guide," October 27, 2016, accessed April 27, 2017, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Wonderful-Wizard-of-Oz/.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz | Plot Summary

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As The Wonderful Wizard of Oz opens, Dorothy Gale is on the family farm in Kansas. She is an orphan cared for by her Uncle Henry, her Aunt Em, and her little dog Toto. She's a happy, laughing child, but her guardians are both careworn, hard workers who get little pleasure from life. Only Toto keeps Dorothy cheerful; the two friends play together constantly.

When the story begins, however, they're not playing. A cyclone is on its way, and everyone is afraid of what it will bring. While Uncle Henry looks after the stock, Aunt Em and Dorothy head for the storm cellar. But Toto jumps out of Dorothy's arms and hides. While Dorothy tries to catch the dog, Aunt Em starts down the ladder into the storm cellar. Before Dorothy can follow, the cyclone lifts the house into the air and carries it away.

The house lands in Munchkin territory within the Land of Oz, crushing and killing the Wicked Witch of the East. Dorothy learns from the Witch of the North that her best bet for returning to Kansas lies in appealing to the Wizard of Oz, in Emerald City. It's a dangerous journey, but Dorothy is determined to go. She helps herself to the dead witch's silver shoes, fills her basket, and sets out.

Soon after departing Dorothy makes three new friends: the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion. Each asks to accompany her, for they too have favors to ask of the Wizard. The Scarecrow wishes for a brain, the Woodman for a heart, and the Lion for courage.

After overcoming several hazards, the four travelers and Toto arrive at Emerald City, an amazing place that—as befits its name—is completely green. One at a time they are taken to meet the Wizard of Oz. He appears in a different frightening guise to each traveler, but he gives them the same assignment: if they can kill the Wicked Witch of the West, the Wizard will grant their wishes.

The way to the witch's castle is rough, and the witch dispatches three animal armies to kill the travelers. When that doesn't work she calls on the Winged Monkeys, who disable the Scarecrow and Woodman and bring Dorothy, Toto, and the Lion to her castle. There she imprisons the Lion and sets Dorothy to work cleaning the castle.

Days go by and Dorothy becomes more and more afraid that she'll never see her home again. One day the witch steals one of Dorothy's silver shoes and is about to steal the other when a furious Dorothy throws a bucket of water at her. To Dorothy's horror the witch melts away to nothing; water, it turns out, is fatal to her.

With the help of the witch's servants, the Winkies, and the Flying Monkeys, Dorothy and her friends return to the Emerald City. To their indignation the Wizard keeps stalling. When they're finally allowed into the Throne Room to see him, Toto knocks over a screen—and an ordinary little man is revealed behind it.

Sheepishly the man explains he is from Omaha, Nebraska. He blew adrift in a hot-air balloon and landed here. Since the populace believed him to be a wizard, he decided to pose as one. He got the people to build the Emerald City and his palace, then shut himself inside to avoid the two wicked witches. Much of his mystique comes from the fact that no one has ever seen him.

Dorothy and her friends are furious. They've met his terms, and now he won't do what he promised. After some thought Oz comes up with a way to satisfy the Scarecrow, Woodman, and Lion. But Dorothy's wish is harder to fulfill. Finally Oz decides that the two of them will depart the country in another hot-air balloon. Quickly they make a new balloon, bid farewell to their friends, and prepare to take off. Unfortunately Toto jumps out of Dorothy's arms; while she's chasing him the balloon drifts away with only Oz aboard.

Dorothy is heartbroken. On the advice of the Guardian of the Gates, she sets out on one more trip—this one to the castle of Glinda, the Witch of the South, who may be able to help. Dorothy's friends love her too much to let her make the trip alone, so they set out once again to meet another witch.

Again the journey is perilous, but this time it's short. When the travelers arrive at Glinda's castle, she tells Dorothy the silver shoes she's been wearing since her arrival have always had the power to get her home. All she needs to do is click her heels together three times.

Again Dorothy bids her friends farewell. Then she grabs Toto, clicks her heels—and finds herself back in Kansas. She lands on the grass near the new house Uncle Henry has built. Aunt Em rushes up, takes her niece into her arms, and kisses her. In Dorothy's absence she has learned how much she loves the little girl. For her part Dorothy is delighted to be back where she belongs.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Plot Diagram

123456789101112131415ClimaxResolutionIntroductionRising ActionFalling Action

Introduction

1 Dorothy and Toto live on a farm in Kansas.

Rising Action

2 A cyclone carries off Dorothy and Toto in their house.

3 Dorothy's house lands in Oz, crushing the Witch of the East.

4 Dorothy and Toto step out into the Land of the Munchkins.

5 The Witch of the North gives Dorothy a protective kiss.

6 Dorothy and Toto set out for the Emerald City.

7 The Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and Cowardly Lion join them.

8 The travelers arrive at the Emerald City.

9 Oz tells the travelers they must kill the Witch of the West.

10 The Witch of the West captures Dorothy, Toto, and the Lion.

Climax

11 Dorothy kills the Wicked Witch of the West.

Falling Action

12 Oz leaves the country without Dorothy.

13 Advised to seek Glinda, Dorothy and friends set out again.

14 Glinda tells Dorothy the silver shoes can take her home.

Resolution

15 Dorothy and Toto arrive home in Kansas.

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