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What do you feel was the most interesting revelation about The Wizard of Oz from the...

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kguidry39 | Student, Undergraduate | Salutatorian

Posted June 8, 2012 at 8:38 PM via web

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What do you feel was the most interesting revelation about The Wizard of Oz from the Littlefield article?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 9, 2012 at 1:16 AM (Answer #1)

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I think that Littlefield brings out several points of interest in terms of how Baum's work can function as a symbol of political history at the turn of the 20th Century.  Most interesting to me was the outlining of how Baum really followed the populism of William Jennings Bryan in the 1896 Presidential election and how Baum's work in the Democratic quarters of Chicago helped to solidify his endless support of the side of the workers and disenfranchised.  Littlefield brings out a couple of point to illuminate this.  Consider his interesting argument that Dorothy, representative of the farmers of Kansas, destroys the witches, symbolic of the Populist movement eventually crushing the forces of the wealthy.  This is something that is interesting because it helps to bring out the class consciousness that is so much a part of the time period, but also something that is not normally discussed in referencing Baum's work.  Littlefield expands this in his discussion of the Wicked Witch of the West:

The Witch assumes that proportions of a kind of western Mark Hanna or Banker Boss, who, through natural malevolence, manipulates the people and holds them prisoner by cynically taking advantage of their innate innocence.

I think that being able to examine the Baum work through the lens of Populism and class consciousness brings out a new dimension to the work, helping to reaffirm a sense of its effectiveness as both a fairy tale, but also one of political reality in its historical context.

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