The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Summary and Analysis of Chapters XII-XV


The Guardian at the gate informed them there was no straight road to the land of the Winkies, and that the Wicked Witch of the West would find them and make them her slaves. He told them, once hearing that they were going to try and destroy her, to keep to the West where the sun sets.

As they walked the Witch noticed the strangers sleeping in her land with her one eye, which was as powerful as a telescope, and grew very angry. She called her pack of wolves and sent them after the interlopers, telling the leader of the wolves to tear them all to pieces.

The Scarecrow and Tin Woodman were awake and heard the wolves coming. The Tin Woodman picked up his axe, and since he could not be hurt, killed all forty of the wolves one after the other and piled their bodies in a heap. The next morning the Witch observed what had happened and became angrier. She called her pack of crows and told King Crow to peck all of their eyes out and tear them to pieces.

The crows flew to where Dorothy and her friends were. Some of the crows were afraid of the Scarecrow, but the King was not deterred and went in for the stuffed man's eyes. The Scarecrow caught him and twisted his neck, then did the same to all of the other birds. This, of course, infuriated the Witch further and she told her swarm of black bees to sting the travelers to death. The bees were foiled when they wasted their stingers on the Scarecrow, who spread his straw over the rest of his friends to protect them.

The Witch then commanded her Winkies to go after them, but the people were afraid when The Cowardly Lion gave a great roar. At her wit's end, the Witch remembered the Golden Cap she possessed. It had a charm that allowed its owner to call three times upon the Winged Monkeys; she had used two already – one while enslaving the Winkies and the other while fighting against Oz and driving him out of the West. She knew this was the only way to bring Dorothy and her friends to her, so she spoke the special words and the crowd of winged monkeys flew to her.

She commanded them to destroy all except the Lion, whom she desired to enslave and harness like a horse. The Tin Woodman was dropped onto sharp rocks and the Scarecrow was scattered and his clothes placed in the top of a tall tree. But Dorothy was left alone because of the mark on her forehead that meant she was protected by the Power of Good. They brought the Lion and Dorothy and Toto to the Witch. She trembled at the silver shoes on Dorothy's feet but realized the girl did not know their power. Dorothy was forced to work in the castle kitchen. She resolved to starve the Lion until he agreed to work. Thankfully, Dorothy found a way to sneak food to him.

Dorothy worked hard and her life grew sad. The Witch coveted her silver shoes because they were powerful, but she could not figure out how to pry them away from the girl. Dorothy wore them at all times except while bathing, but since the Witch was deathly afraid of water, she couldn't approach. She finally set up an invisible iron bar that Dorothy tripped over, making her lose one shoe.

Dorothy was so angry that, without thinking, she threw a bucket of water on the Witch, drenching her head to toe. The Witch screamed that she was going to melt away, and sure enough, every bit of her melted into oblivion. Dorothy ran out to find the Lion and tell him they were no longer prisoners.

Dorothy freed the Lion and told the Winkies they were no longer slaves; they rejoiced heartily. The Winkies helped fix the Tin Woodman and put the Scarecrow back together after the Woodman cut down the tree in which the stuffed man's clothes were stuck.

The friends decided to head back to Oz to claim what the powerful Wizard had promised them, and tearfully said goodbye to the Winkies. Before they left, Dorothy noticed the Golden Cap and put it on her head because it fit nicely; she did not know about its magic properties.

The travelers headed back toward the Emerald City but soon became miserably lost. They called the field mice for help. The Queen of the Field Mice noticed Dorothy's cap and told her that she could command the Winged Monkeys to take them the long distance to the City. Dorothy was amazed, and speaking the words of the charm, called the Winged Monkeys to her and gave them her first command.

Along the way to the City, the King of the Monkeys told Dorothy why they had to respond to the owner of the Golden Cap. Once they were a free people that lived happily in the forest. Sometimes they were playful and mischievous, but overall they were kind and carefree. There was a beautiful princess and sorceress named Gayelette who used her powers for good. She wanted a husband but could not find someone good enough. She finally found a worthy young man and used her magic to make him handsome and strong and perfect. His name was Quelala.

One day the monkeys played a joke at Quelala's expense when the man was out walking. They picked him up and dropped him in the river, wetting his clothes. Quelala was not angry but Gayelette was furious. She wanted to tie the Monkeys' wings and drop them in the river. The King of the Winged Monkeys knew this was a death sentence and Quelala intervened. Gayelette thought up a new punishment and created the curse of the Golden Cap. Quelala was the first owner and used his first command to order the monkeys to stay away so his wife would never see them again. Ultimately, the Cap passed to the Wicked Witch of the West, and now Dorothy.


Although there is not a copious amount of criticism on Baum's works, such as with other works of American literature, there are several important articles by scholars that address various themes and issues present in the text. Henry Littlefield's discussion of Populism is found in the analyses of Chapters XX-XXIV; here we will discuss Jerry Griswold's altogether fascinating psychological analysis of the "mother issue" in the Wonderful Wizard of Oz. This is appropriate given the death, however accidental, of the Wicked Witch of the West by Dorothy's hand.

Griswold notes that in fairy tales featuring mothers, there are usually parallel characters of a Good Mother who protects (the fairy godmother) and a Bad Mother who is dangerous and punishing (the Witch). In the film adaptation of the novel these two seem conflated in the figure of Aunt Em. In this novel as well as all fairy tales with similar themes, the female protagonist attempts to escape the domination of her mother figure and achieve independence. When Dorothy is introduced, it is made clear that she has no true mother but lives with her uncle and aunt, the latter serving as a mother figure. Aunt Em is associated with dryness and ennui. Dorothy's wish to get out of housework is fulfilled by a cyclone, and, as Griswold writes, "this wish fulfillment goes even further: the house falls on the Wicked Witch of the East and kills her, and she dries up and shrivels away. It is a symbolic matricide: in the book, the equally dissociated Aunt Em is the only one who takes shelter in the storm cellar under the house. Feeling guilty, perhaps, for this Oedipal hostility, Dorothy protests her innocence" but the Munchkins wisely tell her the end result - the death of the Witch - is the same no matter the intent.

Griswold notes the Land of Oz itself is a quadrant with castles of the Good Witch in the North and South and the Wicked Witches in the East and West. In the center is the Emerald City ruled by a father figure who gives Dorothy the task to kill the Wicked Witch of the West. This scenario of Dorothy being in a magical world and being given such a task is not unique to this book. When a child in fairy tales and American classic literature arrives in this world, they usually receive parental surrogates, "engage in an Oedipal struggle with a parent figure of the same sex, and [have] the limited but not quite sufficient protection of the parent figure of the opposite sex." Griswold uses the examples of Tarzan and Snow White to elucidate his point.

In the movie the Oedipal drama is even more pronounced since Dorothy is ordered to procure the Witch's broom; this symbolizes Dorothy replacing her and filling her mother's shoes. Interestingly enough, she is already wearing the silver shoes of the other witch. When Dorothy finally kills the Wicked Witch of the West accidentally, she still feels a sense of guilt for this matricide and again protests her innocence. The fact that water kills this witch and aridity is associated with Aunt Em is telling. When Dorothy returns to the Wizard to tell him of her success, his status as her father figure is reduced and her other three companions, now fully-formed, take his place.

At the end of the novel Dorothy has worked through her issues with the Bad Mother and comes face-to-face with the limitations of the Good Mother. Glinda, while powerful, is not able to transport her back to Kansas. It is Dorothy alone, with the power of her silver shoes, who can send herself back. She does not need to depend on others and recognizes her own power. Like her friends, her strength was inside her all along.