“Oz was always our friend. When he was here he built for us this beautiful Emerald City, and now he is gone he has left the Wise Scarecrow to rule over us.”
Greetings! Today we are back to looking at L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by summarizing and analyzing chapter sixteen and seventeen. Dorothy and her companions receive their rewards from the Wizard and Dorothy prepares to travel back home—but things do not go accordngly. Onward!
Chapter Sixteen Summary: The Magic Art of the Great Humbug
The chapter opens with the company reaping the rewards of the fantastic adventure by, one at a time, visiting the Wizard of Oz for their particular want; and, each of Dorothy’s companions is given just that:
- The wizard stuffs The Scarecrow’s head with a large amount of bran, pins, and needles, and “stuffed the rest with straw, to hold it in place,” and The Scarecrow was thankful.
- The Tin Woodman receives a heart after the Wizard cuts a hole in his chest and plops in a pretty heart that is made of “silk and stuffed with sawdust.”
- The Cowardly Lion is given his courage through the use of a tonic, which gives him the courage he was after since the beginning of their quest.
As for Dorothy, the Wizard is perplexed, as he is conflicted about his own powers.
“How can I help being a humbug,” he said, “when all these people make me do things that everybody knows can’t be done? It was easy to make the Scarecrow and the Lion and the Woodman happy, because they imagined I could do anything. But it will take more than imagination to carry Dorothy back to Kansas, and I’m sure I don’t know how it can be done.”
At that, the chapter ends and we as the reader are left to ponder what it is that the Wizard will do for Dorothy in order to get her back to Kansas.
Chapter seventeen summary and analysis: How the Balloon Was Launched
The Wizard comes to the conclusion that to get Dorothy back to Kansas, he will have to do exactly what he did to get lost to be found again, in a way. In other words, the Wizard decides to construct a large balloon to launch into the air, which will carry both himself and Dorothy home to where they belong.
“You see, when I came to this country it was in a balloon. You also came through the air, being carried by a cyclone. So I believe the best way to get across the desert will be through the air. Now, it is quite beyond my powers to make a cyclone; but I’ve been thinking the matter over, and I believe I can make a balloon.”
The Wizard and Dorothy set themselves about constructing a wonderful balloon to fly across the great desert and upon its completion the Wizard informs the people of the Emerald City that he is going to go visit “a great brother Wizard who lived in the clouds.” Of course, the people believe him to be magic when he is in fact not, so this news is taken exactly as expected and the “news spread rapidly throughout the city…”
The balloon is brought out of the palace and the Wizard addresses the audience as the charlatan that he is and grants The Scarecrow permission to rule the city; but, unfortunately, before Dorothy can get on the balloon, her dog Toto runs into the crowd and Dorothy chases after him. The Wizard, meanwhile, sails away into the clouds never to be seen from again.
For this week’s posts, we are looking at the theme of magic in writing, and both chapter sixteen and seventeen of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz deals with the Wizard’s magic in some way. What we know of the Wizard is that he is a fake; that is, he has lied about who he is to the people who love and cherish him, which has caused a conflict inside of him (man vs. man), as he is unsure of how to proceed with rewarding Dorothy and her friends because he has no way to actually reward them through the use of magical powers.
Thus, he resorts to practical means to reward each member of the company and to reward Dorothy herself; so, he makes handcrafted rewards and, because they all believe in him (which they really shouldn’t) they take their rewards as truth, like a odd sort of placebo. He stuffs The Scarecrow’s head with straw, gives the Tin Woodsman a beautiful heart, and concocts a tonic for the Cowardly Lion. Lastly, he literally creates a balloon with Dorothy’s help.
Yet, because the Wizard is a flawed individual, not all of his magical tricks work, as he leaves Dorothy behind as he has no way to control the balloon once it takes flight.
Baum, L. Frank. “The Wizard of Oz the First Five Novels.” Fall River Press, 2014.