Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Animal Rights and Wrongs

Cross-posted from here.

As most, if not all, animals in Oz are sentient and capable of speech, you might think they would be civilized as well. And some are, but others prefer to live in the wild and act according to their natures. The ones who live in the Emerald City and are close friends with humans seem to be the exception rather than the rule. Even then, they have to sit at their own table during meals, except for the Wogglebug and the Frogman. Maybe this is more a case of the table being made to accommodate their needs rather than their being treated like second-class citizens, however. Since the Wogglebug and Frogman have learned to function like humans, they wouldn't require such special amenities. In The Patchwork Girl of Oz, Ozma mentions letting the Woozy stay in the Royal Menagerie, presumably the same as the Royal Stables, which are described as much nicer than stables elsewhere in the world. According to Wishing Horse, each stall is equipped with a shower. For what it's worth, Dorothy and the Wizard makes clear that Ozma's palace has no stables, but Patchwork Girl has the Scarecrow mentioning that the Sawhorse lives in one. At the end of Tik-Tok, the stables are identified as the home of not only the Sawhorse, but also the Cowardly Lion, the Hungry Tiger, and Hank the Mule. The Woozy isn't around, but maybe he was out somewhere at the time. As Ruth Plumly Thompson frequently added new large animals to the ranks of the Emerald City celebrities, I can imagine that the stables might have been expanded over the course of her contributions to the series.

One thing I found rather disturbing about John R. Neill's books is that his Emerald City included an animal enclosure. In Wonder City, it is identified as the home of chained lions and tigers. I wonder how the Cowardly Lion and Hungry Tiger feel about their fellow big cats being locked up like that. There's also the garden of the animal-plants in the Public Gardens, which is apparently a different place, but it also has chained animals. I've already mentioned the bull-rushes, and other animal-plants living there include goose-berries, dandy-lions, tiger-lilies, skunk-cabbage, snap-dragons, cow-slips, horse-radishes, cocks-combs, pussy-willows, dogtooth violets, larkspur, fox-gloves, and catnip wildcats. During one of her temper tantrums, Jenny Jump frees the animal-plants, and they run amok in the city. Some of them turn out to be friendly, though, including a bull, a dragon, and some horses. In Scalawagons, the animal enclosure appears again, and animals inhabiting it include donkeys, giraffes, chimpanzees, tigers, sheep, dragons, mules, horses, unicorns, and at least one dragonette. It's also said to be Kabumpo's home, although general consensus is that he still lives in Pumperdink. This time, the animals break their chains on their own and run into the Quadling Country, where they admit to Ozma that all they really want is a vacation. Indeed, the animals behave so well that I have to wonder why they would have been chained in the first place. It doesn't make much sense to my mind.

1 comment:

Sam A M said...

It's not surprising that the animals being chained up in the Emerald City doesn't make much sense, to your mind or anyone's . . . except perhaps to the author of that concept himself.

I think some of his ideas for Oz were not on the same page as Baum and maybe were a bit more suited to Lewis Carroll or something else.