I read “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum, an American classic, as a grown adult and out of pure curiosity.
I cannot say that I enjoyed the book or the writing, but that is not the intent for reading all books. Not growing up in America until my teenage years precluded me from being exposed to the cornerstone of American culture promptly and Wizard of Oz happens to occupy a large sea there. I am still working hard to close the gaps in culture and conversation by educating myself on what I have missed.
An example of something that has not gone away all these years are the many allusions and references to “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”. Hence, I set out to read this mysterious story.
Even though it was a departure from my usual reading list, I was nonetheless determined to read this little book, which is more a children’s book than an adult’s. Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Lion, and the Straw man, make an odd crowd, walking around the land of oz, experiencing one odd incident after another on their way to go see the Wizard of Oz. There are lessons and messages hidden in the bizarre events and characters of this book. In those passages, I know the author must be writing to appeal to the young and the older readers alike.
One of the funnier and more outstanding phrases in the Wizard of Oz was: Dorothy is determined to go home and shall not be deterred by flying monkeys, bats, witches or other strange creatures. Confidence and determination in our actions is key to success, we must forge ahead no matter what and we should never give up.
While I may have appreciated this book more in some aspects at the age of 8, the symbolic representation of many elements has relevance to the adult world. Here I must give credit to my little brother who read the book at the age of 8 or earlier, and certainly took away the child and adult references more deeply than me. See also political interpretations of the book.
- Yellow brick road that Dorothy must take to reach Emerald city – It is hard not to think of my beloved Elton John‘s fabulous song, “Yellow Brick Road”, is there another yellow brick road in this world? It seems that Baum was instead referring to gold, and gold referencing the path of coinage.
- Dorothy’s Silver slippers – She must take silver down a road paved in gold. In the early 1900s when the book was first published, the socioeconomic reference to silver gold again to economic freedom.
- Tinman and Scarecrow – The TinMan is representation of the rusted industrial worker and the scarecrow is the farmer. They must work together to be successful, and without one another, they cannot survive.
- The Lion – Wikipedia has more to say on this than do either me or Sina
- The man behind the curtain – From Sina: “This phrase originates from this book, if I’m not mistaken (haven’t researched fully), but the idea that there’s a controlling hand behind a set of events is one that has been reused thousands upon thousands of times ….an interesting piece of commentary on American political theater.”
- Emerald city – This might be a commentary on the American greed perhaps. The special glasses they had to wear simply to be able to see might have indicated we
might be blinded by our shiny capitalism or abuse of that capitalism.
Reading is the best pastime for an active mind! If you like to see the other book reviews, check the index of In Print.
There is little Dorothy wishing to leave all the grandeur of the Land of Oz behind to go back home to very little in Kansas. The longing to go back home is no stranger to any of us. One’s heart’s desire is no further away than their own back yard? While it sounds sentimental and sweet, that has not been my heart’s desire. My own back yard has never had enough to fulfill my travel-loving, world-trotting, adventure-seeking heart.
However, if it is a return to a place where we grew up and formed our childhood memories, then who am I to disagree? I who would give anything to be able to set foot in the beautiful house and gardens that I grew up in Iran. I who reminisce about my childhood years and imagine a return home someday more often than I care to admit. A return to a place I formed those early memories of childhood is a bitter longing. For that reference and that only, I liked the Wizard of Oz.