Literature Study GuidesWickedBook 1 Chapter 6 Summary

Wicked | Study Guide

Gregory Maguire

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Wicked | Book 1, Chapter 6 : Munchkinlanders (Geographies of the Seen and Unseen) | Summary

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Summary

Frex and Nanny arrive home, and Frex reacquaints himself with his wife and then Elphaba while Nanny and Melena prepare dinner. Frex gives Elphaba a wooden bird. Elphaba breaks its wings off while Frex reflects on the contrast between Melena's wealthy upbringing and their current humble situation. Frex scolds Elphaba for breaking the bird and cautions her not to break the looking glass, but Turtle Heart says she likes to play with the broken pieces of her toy and she can't possibly break the looking glass. Frex and Turtle Heart chat about Munchkinland and Quadling Country. Turtle Heart observes Frex is taller than most Munchkinlanders, and Frex explains only peasants and farmers are short because better families "married into height somewhere along the way."

Turtle Heart's understanding of Oz is limited to his own village in Quadling Country, so Frex explains the geography of Oz, with Munchkinland farms in the East, swampy Quadling Country in the south, dry Winkie Country in the west, and more rich farmlands of Gillikin in the north. Northeast of Gillikin is the mountainous Glikkus, filled with emerald mines and canals. Oz is surrounded by deserts.

Frex also explains the major religions of Oz. He is a unionist, which means he worships the Unnamed God. Unionism has displaced "Lurlinist paganism" as the main religion of Oz. Lurlinism is based on worship of a fairy queen who discovered Oz in the desert and left her daughter, Ozma, to rule the land. All subsequent queens are thought to be reincarnations of Ozma, but Frex asserts Ozma is Gillikinese based on her appearance. The current Ozma Tippetarius is Elphaba's age, so her father Pastorius rules as regent. Frex is troubled by how many unionists are seduced by the pleasure faith or tiktokism, which is oriented around magic and "individual freedom and amusement." Nanny chimes in with another legend, this one about a dragon underneath Oz "who has dreamt the world" and will set the world on fire when he wakes. Elphaba pretends to be a dragon as she crawls on the floor; then she urinates and sniffs the result.

Analysis

Turtle Heart's comments about Elphaba's play habits show he understands her nature on a deep level. Her preference for the broken bird over the whole bird mirrors her own sense of being broken, of not belonging because she is different, and Turtle Heart understands because he is an outsider as well.

As the title "Geographics of the Seen and Unseen" implies, this chapter serves primarily to provide the reader with the lay of the land of Oz. The assertion that Munchkinlanders "married into height" also serves the practical purpose of moving the reader beyond preconceived ideas about Munchkinland based on the book or film versions of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, texts they are almost certainly familiar with.

Turtle Heart in this chapter acts as a surrogate for the reader as Frex explains the geographical features of Oz and its five distinct regions. The need for such an explanation also underscores Turtle Heart's relative innocence; he is uncorrupted by the larger forces at play in Oz, and he is unaware of lands beyond those he has traveled through. Likewise, Turtle Heart is unaware and uninvolved with the complex interplay between religious forces that create conflicts within communities.

Frex's description of Oz's geography and religious background also underscores how deeply divided Oz is. Physically, regions are separated by mountains and inhospitable terrain. Each region has specific defining characteristics and purpose within Oz's economy. Frex references some plans and attempts to unify the four quadrants of Oz through rails and roads, but these attempts thus far have had little effect on unifying the country.

The differing religious factions likewise underscore divisions. Unionists are presented as a standard monotheistic group, similar to Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Adherents worship the Unnamed God and attempt to follow strict moral order. Lurlinism parallels the pagan religions supplanted in this world by Christianity, and the shift from Lurlinism, whose primary deity is a fairy queen, to the Unnamed God of Unionism also reflects a shift from a matriarchal to patriarchal social structure. This shift is visible in the ruling family as well. Ozma Tippetarius, the nominal monarch, is a girl, but her father the Regent wields the true power.

The reference to the even older myth of the dragon that dreams the world nods to the abundance of religious beliefs and stories present in any society. The myth also connects to the public interest in the Clock of the Time Dragon. Even though the clock is affiliated with the loosely defined pleasure faith, it clearly has roots in older, more primal stories. Elphaba's behavior during the recounting of this tale emphasizes her own connection to the dragon and the clock where she was born, with her urination representing a connection to her animal urges.

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