Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Characters of Oz — Jinjur

So the Sawhorse had run off with Jack and Tip was alone. And he was getting hungry too... Just then, he came across a young woman enjoying a sandwich. She was dressed in an odd costume: a green blouse with a skirt in the four colors of Oz on it.

She introduced herself as General Jinjur, commander of the Army of Revolt "in this war." Jinjur announced that she had assembled an army to conquer the Emerald City and set herself up as the new ruler. Her reasons?
"Because the Emerald City has been ruled by men long enough, for one reason," said the girl.

"Moreover, the City glitters with beautiful gems, which might far better be used for rings, bracelets and necklaces; and there is enough money in the King's treasury to buy every girl in our Army a dozen new gowns. So we intend to conquer the City and run the government to suit ourselves."
As you can see, Jinjur had rather selfish motives in mind. Basically, she wanted to turn the status quo on its ear and have men do what had been usually considered women's work and let the women do as they pleased. According to her own words, she did not enjoy helping her mother with the housework.

And, after she joined her army, she marched to the Emerald City and bloodlessly made her way into it being defiant and out-talking the Guardian of the Gates and Omby Amby.

Despite the Scarecrow managing to escape the Emerald City, Jinjur actually managed to do what she set out to do in conquering the city.

Baum writes that Jinjur sent for Mombi. How Jinjur knew of Mombi is not clear as it seems that Jinjur was of Munchkin origin, but Mombi was a small-time practitioner of magic who didn't exactly make a show of it. Shawn Maldonado suggests that perhaps Mombi gave Jinjur the idea to conquer the Emerald City, which may make some sense.

Although Jinjur doesn't help the Emerald City become a better place, I don't really see her as a villain. She suggests some nasty ends for the Scarecrow and his friends when they return from the Winkie Country, but she says that she'd do this if they became troublesome. Given her nature in later books, I suspect that she hoped it wouldn't have to come to that.

When Glinda arrives to question Mombi, Jinjur wonders if it might not be best to comply with Glinda, but Mombi is the one who convinces her to let her switch forms with Jellia Jamb, giving the maid over to Glinda in place of the sorceress. When Glinda sees through this, Jinjur sends Glinda a message that Baum says the Mombi made her send. Overall, Jinjur's admirable confidence and wit breaks down and she becomes more like a little girl under the pressure from Mombi.

Of course, Ozma is restored to her true form, and in her name, Jinjur is captured by a couple of Glinda's guards and quickly conquered. Ozma doesn't punish Jinjur, but simply sends her home.

Inevitably, Jinjur has been compared to the feminist movement of Baum's day. Some say Baum was even parodying it. However, if one takes the point that Baum took a dim view on the movement (which previous non-fiction writing by him shows that he did not), why is the Emerald City ruled by a girl at the end of The Marvelous Land of Oz? The difference is simply in Jinjur's intentions. She says that she wanted to run things to suit her whims. A wise ruler or leader has to look at what is best for everyone. Characters like Ozma and Glinda do this (though Ozma does have some gaffes on her record). Jinjur did not. In fact, flipping the status quo had a serious downside:
And it is said that the women were so tired eating of their husbands' cooking that they all hailed the conquest of Jinjur with Joy. Certain it is that, rushing one and all to the kitchens of their houses, the good wives prepared so delicious a feast for the weary men that harmony was immediately restored in every family.
Oz is known for people being allowed to do as they please, even if it defies stereotypical roles, but bad cooking was still bad cooking!

In the next book, Ozma of Oz, Ozma and her company briefly stop by a dairy farm. The dairy maid who offers Ozma a drink is none other than Jinjur herself, explaining that she had married a dairy farmer, who was at that moment nursing a black eye. She says he was milking the red cow when she wanted him to milk the white one. Whether the cow or Jinjur administered the black eye is not made clear...

In The Patchwork Girl of Oz, it is revealed that Jinjur also has an artistic flair. She doesn't really appear in the book (aside from a Neill illustration, which I have not included), but she repaints the Scarecrow's face, and at one point painted a sack of straw so natural that the Scarecrow was able to restuff himself with the straw in it. Even though she ousted him from the throne, it is clear that they hold no ill will to each other.

Jinjur reappears in The Tin Woodman of Oz when the Tin Woodman and his friends arrive in the forms that Mrs. Yoop gave them. She does not recognize them at first and begins to chase them away with her broom. But when all is explained, she allows them to stay, letting Woot the Wanderer enjoy some cream puffs. She also makes sure Woot has a bath, bathing him herself. When Ozma arrives, Jinjur assists as she can.

Jinjur doesn't make any notable appearances (if any) in Thompson's Oz books, but she reappears in Neill's The Wonder City of Oz, where she helps round up the animals from the Animal Park. She also appears in The Runaway in Oz. Scraps decides she'll stay on Jinjur's ranch (for ranch it became in Tin Woodman), but Jinjur makes it clear that if she is to have a new resident, she will also have a new ranch hand. Needless to say, Scraps doesn't stick around.

Jinjur struck me as being motherly to Woot in The Tin Woodman of Oz, so when Jinjur became part of an online Round Robin story called The Ruby Ring of Oz, she had a son named Perry. (Since he was supposedly Munchkin-born, the name was the first part of periwinkle, a blue flower.) He was very headstrong and smart, but I think upon reflection that with Button-Bright already running around in the story, I didn't really need him. A lot of how I made Perry wound up becoming part of Button-Bright in Outsiders from Oz.

However, I do think I just might revisit Jinjur in future Oz stories, so don't write off her having any offspring...

1 comment:

Nathan said...

It's interesting that, in Tin Woodman, Polychrome seems to know Jinjur. When did they meet? The most likely answer is probably during the party in Road, although I don't believe Jinjur is specifically mentioned as having attended. Her husband is also absent in that book, but maybe he's taking the crops to market or something.