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Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz by L. Frank Baum
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Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz: 02/15/19

Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz

Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz by L. Frank Baum is the fourth book in the original Oz series. It is set recently after the April 18, 1906 in the East Bay. The journey this time to Oz will be by way of an underground route.

Dorothy has come on the train from San Francisco having returned the United States after her time in Australia. Her plans are to spend the night at Hugson's Siding with distant relatives and then catch the train back to Kansas.

Trains no longer go directly to San Francisco but the transcontinental line begins in San José and heads up along the East Bay near the shoreline and up and around by San Pedro before paralleling the I80 (more or less). Hayward has a long farming tradition (one of the high schools even still uses the Farmer as its mascot). Our Amtrak station is the same little train station that used to serve as the delivery point to the Hunt cannery. It sat at the intersection of three tracks of farmland owned by the Osterloh family. Across the street from the depot was Country Road (now West A Street).

But more broadly speaking, this starting point with it's H name and the apostrophe brings to mind the city's original name: Haywards. More importantly it connects Dorothy with another real world place, and this time with a real world event: the 1906 Earthquake. Also, Baum was old enough to have heard of the Hayward earthquake of 1868.

Baum sets the stage and earns a whole new set of readers by having Dorothy survive an event that just two years earlier (the book being published in 1908) they had survived. Eighty years after it was first published, I can remember how extraordinary it was to see an earthquake as a source to a magical, beloved land. California usually isn't an entry into utopia.

In Dorothy's first two trips to Oz she was essentially alone, having only an animal companion (Toto or Bill). Now she has two animal companions: Eureka the cat and Jim the horse, as well as her cousin, Zeb. Together they meet up with the Wizard.

Although they have fallen deep into the earth, Dorothy et al take the same practical approach that served her well in Kansas (The Wonderful Wizard of Oz) and the Pacific Ocean (Ozma of Oz). When it's obvious that the fall hasn't killed them but there isn't an easy way out, Dorothy declares that they should keep going and eventually they might be spotted and rescued by Ozma.

What follows is a weird underground adventure through a land of plant people, a land of invisible people, a land of wooden gargoyles. Their journey

for the most part is wide enough for Jim to pull the buggy. It's the 1906 version of Lowriders to the Center of the Earth. But here, the path, though it seems rather fraught with danger, isn't full of the blind alleys and traps of a maze. Instead, it's a labyrinth.

Now while I've written of Dorothy as the exemplar orphan for the American road narrative, in this volume, she is part of a family, both through her connection to Zeb as well as her friendship with the Oscar the Wizard. That puts Dorothy and company into the "family" category of traveler (33). The ultimate destination (before home) is Oz, which remains a utopia (FF) at this juncture. Time is still passing normally for Oz and Dorothy and Ozma both look and act older. The road they take, as I've discussed is through a labyrinth (99). All together it's a family en route to utopia through a labyrinth.

Works cited:

Four stars

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