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Road Essays
FF3366: orphans going offroad to rural places

FF3333: orphans in rural places along Blue Highways

FF3300: orphans left in rural places along interstates

FF00FF: orphans in the city by way of the cornfield

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FF00FF: orphans in the city by way of the cornfield: 02/28/19

FF00FF: orphans in the city by way of the cornfield

The last destination for the orphan or lone traveler is the city. The first route there is via the cornfield. Two early books in the Oz series fit here in the road narrative spectrum: The Marvelous Land of Oz by L. Frank Baum (1904) and The Road to Oz (1909).

The first example is Ozma's origin story. The second tale is Dorothy's walk to the Emerald City to celebrate Ozma's birthday. Ozma and Dorothy share the experience of being literal orphans. They were both raised in rural places. Dorothy was raised by her aunt and uncle on their farm in Kansas. Ozma, as Tip, was raised by her captor on a farm in the north of Oz.

Tip's journey is one of flight. Having overheard plans to turn him into a statue, he can no longer safely live with the witch. Dorothy's return to Oz is one of circumstance. While trying to do a stranger a favor, she finds herself lost on a road that has suddenly become magical. She isn't in danger beyond what strangers she might meet in her travels. But she has been to and from Oz enough times now to expect a safe outcome.

The destination for both Ozma and Dorothy is the city. In fact, it's the same city, The Emerald City. As Tip, the Emerald City is one of refuge. As Ozma, the city becomes one of destiny. On Dorothy's return trip, the Emerald City is the means to an end (the birthday party and her ability to return to Kansas).

The route for both orphans begins with the cornfield. Tip as I've shown in "The transformative power of the cornfield" is associated to the cornfield, shown learning some magic in the safety of the field. Tip's first companion is a pumpkinheaded scarecrow, providing Tip with similar protection as Dorothy had on her first trip through Oz.

Dorothy, meanwhile, ends up on the enchanted road to Oz after taking the Shaggy Man through a field as part of the short cut to Butterfield. By straying off the path, she ends up on the wrong sort of road, one that regardless of what she does, will eventually lead her and her traveling companions to the Emerald City.

These Oz books are grounded in fantasy, but they sit close to the division between fantasy and realism. In that break can sit horror. Were these books for adults, they may well have been. Imagine a person getting lost in the cornfield and ending up in an unknown city. Or emerging from the field after a big event, say a zombie apocalypse.

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