The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Questions and Answers
by L. Frank Baum

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz book cover
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How does the character of the Scarecrow change throughout "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz"?

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The biggest change in the character of Scarecrow is the development of confidence.  In the early parts of the story, when he begins his journey with Dorothy, Scarecrow has a very low opinion of himself because, stuffed with straw as he is, he does not have a brain. His actions as the story unfolds, however, show that although he does not have a physical brain, he is really quite intelligent.  It is Scarecrow who saves Dorothy, Tin Man, and Lion on numerous occasions on their quest, and he is quick to come up with solutions to difficult problems that arise.  Scarecrow is constant in his devotion to his friends, and as the story progresses his air of flighty goofiness is tempered by a subtle, quiet nobility born of the realization that he might capable despite his perceived lack.  At the end of their quest, the Wizard, understanding that Scarecrow already possesses the qualities he seeks and only needs to believe in himself, concocts a brain for him out of "bran, pins, and needles" to make him "sharp".  With a physical representation of a "brain" at last, Scarecrow has self-assurance of his own intelligence, and finally feels complete.

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drmjung | Student

The Scarecrow changes throughout “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by demonstrating an increasing ability to solve problems and engage in logical reasoning.

When Dorothy first discovers the Scarecrow in the cornfield, he is convinced he is stupid because, as he later reveals, the crows he was meant to scare off mocked him for not being a real man. One old crow remarks,

‘If you only had brains in your head you would be as good a man as any of them, and a better man than some of them. Brains are the only things worth having in this world, no matter whether one is a crow or a man.’

However, as the story goes on, Baum reveals the Scarecrow develops a great deal of logic and problem-solving skill as his worldly experience expands.

When the group encounters a great gulf across the Yellow Brick Road, for instance, the Scarecrow reasons the Tin Woodman can chop down a tree to create a bridge, to which the Lion notes,

‘That is a first rate idea… One would almost suspect you had brains in your head, instead of straw.’

Later, it is the Scarecrow that tells the Tin Woodman to destroy the bridge when fierce Kalidah monsters use it to follow them across the gulf, saving his friends.

Shortly after that, the group encounters a river and the Scarecrow proposes the Tin Woodman build a raft out of small trees to help them cross.

And moments after that, it is the Scarecrow who tells the Tin Woodman to make a chair with their hands and carry Dorothy out of the Deadly Poppy Fields.

Ironically, however, the Scarecrow is unable to perceive his developing intelligence as he solves problem after problem – still equating brainpower with an actual brain.

By the story’s climax, the Wizard of Oz tells the Scarecrow what Baum was ironically revealing to the reader throughout the story, saying,

‘You don’t need [brains]. You are learning something every day. A baby has brains, but it doesn't know much. Experience is the only thing that brings knowledge, and the longer you are on earth the more experience you are sure to get.’

Here, the Wizard (and Baum) maps out the Scarecrow’s entire character arc – he was a blank slate who gained knowledge, intelligence, and a self-concept thanks to the people he met and the experiences he underwent.

Sadly, because one of the Scarecrow’s earliest experiences was with a crow who made him believe brains were the only thing worth having, he continues to see his lack of a physical brain as a character flaw.

Thus, the Scarecrow insists the Wizard give him a brain – and when Oz pours a mixture of bran and pins into the Scarecrow’s head, the Scarecrow accepts the placebo and feels wise, never accepting that his intellect was always a part of his developing character.