As Dorothy bade the good-natured Guardian a last farewell she said:
“I have been very kindly treated in your lovely City, and everyone has been good to me. I cannot tell you how grateful I am.”
“Don’t try, my dear,” he answered. “We should like to keep you with us, but if it is your wish to return to Kansas, I hope you will find a way.”
Today we nearly come to the end of L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, so we are going to summarize and analyze chapter eighteen, nineteen, and twenty. For some reason, I underestimated how many chapters were left in this book (It never ends! Ha ha). In the following chapters, Dorothy attempts to find her way out of Oz after accidentally being abandoned by the Wizard. Moving forward, she has a host of strange encounters.
Chapter Eighteen summary: Away to the South
Dorothy and her friends spend chapter eighteen mourning two losses: one is the loss of the Wizard himself and the second is Dorothy’s lost chance at getting home to Kansas. However, they hatch a plan to travel to the South after they realize that Glinda the Good Witch might be able to help them (and that the Flying Monkeys cannot travel to Kansas because no Flying Monkey has ever traveled there).
“It seems, in spite of dangers, that the best thing Dorothy can do is to travel to the Land of the South and ask Glinda to help her. For, of course, if Dorothy stays here she will never get back to Kansas.”
The company prepares themselves once again to go on an adventure and set out the next morning.
Chapter Nineteen summary: Attacked by the Fighting Trees
In chapter nineteen, Dorothy and her companions combat some fighting trees on their way south to Glinda. At first, The Scarecrow is struck by a branch at a wall of trees and is sent flying; after the Tin Woodsman graciously steps forward, he strikes the limb in twain and they are able to ford the ferocious forest in order to continue traveling south to Glinda.
The four travelers walked with ease through the trees until they came to the farther edge of the wood. Then, to their surprise, they found before them a high wall which seemed to be made of white china. It was smooth, like the surface of a dish, and higher than their heads.
While the trees take center stage in this chapter (they are the title, after all), their threat is quickly dispatched by a sharp axe and a brave woodsman.
Chapter Twenty summary: The Dainty China Country
In chapter twenty, Dorothy and company meet Glinda the Good Witch after ascending her glass wall with a ladder made by the Tin Woodsman. Granted, the surroundings that the group found were extremely strange:
“Before them was a great stretch of country having a floor as smooth and shining and white as the bottom of a big platter. Scattered around were many houses made entirely of china and painted in the brightest colors. These houses were quite small, the biggest of them reaching only as high as Dorothy’s waist. There were also pretty little barns, with china fences around them; and many cows and sheep and horses and pigs and chickens, all made of china, were standing about in groups.”
They meet a great deal of strange people here: from an ornery milkmaid, to a kind princess, to a clown, who is head-to-toe laced with cracks because he is a fool. They learn to be careful as they walk through this strange place, and once again leave to the other side—destroying a small church on the way out.
In these chapters we find that the Land of Oz still has a lot to offer in the way of strange characters, obstacles, and places to visit. This is very reminiscent of Gulliver’s Travels, especially the glass country section, which seems to be remarking on the fragility of society and institutions, as the princess is brittle and so is the church. Methinks this was L. Frank Baum being cheeky about what he saw a frailties in society.
At first, I didn’t really care for these chapters, as ever since the Wicked Witch of the West was brutally murdered by Dorothy, I feel like there has not been much to do but complain; however, these chapters give us additional insight into the imaginative land of Oz. Now, I am back to being excited, and I am looking forward to the last few chapters!
Baum, L. Frank. “The Wizard of Oz the First Five Novels.” Fall River Press, 2014.