Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Characters of Oz — The People of Evna

The Land of Ev doesn't seem very appealing in Ozma of Oz. For modern readers—particularly those of my generation or later who may have seen Disney's Return to Oz before reading the books—it's quite easy to mentally conflate the city of Evna with the images of the ruined Emerald City from the film. Most likely because Baum describes scattered farm houses on the way to the Royal Palace rather than a town where Dorothy, Tik-Tok, Billina and the captive Wheeler encounter inhabitants. Perhaps Baum moved the story along too quickly. Also not helping is the mention that part of the palace was torn down.

Zoom in on the International Wizard of Oz Club's map of the
Surrounding Countries. The faint purple highlighted line
depicts Dorothy's route from the shores of Ev to Evna.
Note comparative scale to the Land of Oz.
Ev appears to be a very small country in Ozma, because Dorothy lands on the beach of Ev in the morning, explores until about noon, about the time she was forced by Wheelers into finding Tik-Tok, then manages to reach Evna before evening. Her view from her tower prison gives her such a clear view of the Deadly Desert that she can recognize her friends from Oz as they approach the palace. (Looking the other way, she can spot the chicken coop she arrived in as a tiny black speck on the shore.) Perhaps Dorothy actually didn't go to the city of Evna at all, but maps of Oz and the surrounding countries show Ev to be a rather large country.

We also have a major contradiction on which part of Oz Ev borders. In Ozma, we are told that they re-entered Oz in the Munchkin Country, clearly pointing out the Woggle-Bug's college and Jinjur's ranch. However, in The Magic of Oz, Hiland and Loland is just across the desert from the Munchkin Country, and Kiki Aru flies there. All maps of Oz and the surrounding countries depict Ev bordering the Winkie Country.

Evna is only mentioned briefly in Ozma of Oz. It is not really revisted in any future Oz books, unless Kiki Aru visited in The Magic of Oz when he went there.

What we know about Ev is that it has an economic system, as Kiki has to steal money when he goes there. Also, the Wheeler mentions that Langwidere spends money from the Royal Treasury. Thanks to the writing on Tik-Tok's back, we know that Evna has a patent office. And at one point, there was the workshop of Smith & Tinker.

We know little about Smith and Tinker, because Tik-Tok only tells us about them. Mr. Smith he believes is dead because he was also a painter as well as an inventor. One day he painted a river so natural that when he reached across the river to paint some flowers, he fell in and drowned.

Mr. Tinker is still alive, Tik-Tok believes. He made a ladder so tall that it could reach the moon so he could pick stars to put in King Evoldo's crown. But he liked the moon so much that he decided to stay there. Neill's illustration of this event shows another Man in the Moon waiting for him. Is this the same Man in the Moon from Baum's Mother Goose in Prose? Did Mr. Tinker stay with him? And was this before or after Mr. Smith's accident?

Smith and Tinker have both been seen back on earth and alive again, but this occurs in stories outside of the Famous Forty Oz books. I myself plan to write a little about them in the near future.

The only other people we meet in Evna are at the Royal Palace. The first is Nanda, the maid for Princess Langwidere, who seems to be a very dutiful assistant.

We know little of Nanda aside from that. She seems a rather regular woman of the time, denying Billina entrance to the palace at first and later being quite frightened by the Hungry Tiger when he demands food. She does have a little bit of wit, as when Langwidere asks "is Mr. Tik-Tok attractive?" Nanda replies, "That I cannot say, Your Highness. But he seems very bright."

Presumably, Nanda isn't the only servant in the palace. There are likely other housekeepers and cooks, someone must be tending to the animals in the back, and it seems the army is at close call.

This brings us to Langwidere herself. The picture at left is what people remember most of her. Her name contains a re-spelling of the word "languid," which implies that she is rather slow or relaxed. However, there is debate as to whether her whole name is supposed to be "languid ear," "languid air" (apathy), or even "languid dear." Any of those could fit the character.

Langwidere is acting ruler of Ev when Dorothy arrives, and is not considered to be the best substitute ruler. All she seems to do is lounge around, spend as much money as she can, play her mandolin, and darn stockings. (Prompting a footnote in an Oz book!)

She is most notable for her collection of thirty heads in cabinets that she can change at leisure. Where did these heads come from? The only clue we're given is that she offers to swap heads with Dorothy, once the latter has grown a little older. Some readers assume that there must be twenty nine headless women in Ev, but it does seem rather rude to do that, even if you are a lazy, selfish princess. Perhaps the heads came from elsewhere. I've even been coming up with a concept as to where they came from, but I won't say it here. Let's just say that I think Langwidere got her demanding nature from her uncle Evoldo.

When Dorothy arrives, Langwidere is wearing a very pretty head that is kept in Cabinet 17 (nicknamed "No. 17"). However, it has a bad temper, so when Dorothy refuses to swap heads with her, she imprisons Dorothy in the tower, throws Billina in with the other animals, and leaves the suddenly wound-down Tik-Tok to serve as a new statue. When Ozma arrives and lets her know that she intends to free the Royal Family of Ev from the Nome King, Langwidere agrees to let Dorothy, Billina and Tik-Tok go, since this means that she won't have to deal with affairs of state anymore. Once Ozma returns victorious, the Royal Family of Ev allow Langwidere to retain her suite of rooms in the palace.

Finally, we may as well cover the Royal Family of Ev as there is little to say about them. The wicked king Evoldo (the same one who beat servants to death, thus requiring him to get Tik-Tok, a servant who could stand the beatings) had a lovely wife and they had ten children together: five boys (Evardo, Evring, Evroland, Evington and Evrob) and five girls (Evanna, Evrose, Evella, Evirene and Evedna). Somehow, he became very cross at having such a family and sold them all to the Nome King, who transformed them into purple ornaments to decorate his palace. After this, Evoldo regretted his actions and went back to the Nome King who refused to go back on his deal. Evoldo locked Tik-Tok into a cave, threw the key into the sea, then jumped jumped after it and drowned. (In a story in Oziana, he is discovered alive, but that is outside of the Famous Forty.)

When Ozma hears of this state of affairs in Ev, she determines to set the Royal Family free, though she wasn't fully informed of the deal Evoldo made. In the Nome King's guessing game, Dorothy managed to free Prince Evring, while the sneaky Billina heard the Nome King say what colors of ornaments he had changed the Royal Family into, so she managed to get herself a turn at the guessing game, freeing the entire Royal Family, Tik-Tok and the people from Oz. Thanks to Billina and Dorothy, they managed to subdue the Nome King and return to Evna, where Evardo (the oldest of the sons) was crowned king. The entire Royal Family attend Ozma's birthday party in The Road to Oz.

Baum didn't return to Ev much in his books, and he certainly did not introduce any new notable Ev citizens, but Ruth Plumly Thompson introduced many sub-kingdoms there and introduced some very memorable characters indeed. However, we'll get to them in time.


Sam A M said...

In the removed "Garden of Meats" chapter from "Patchwork Girl of Oz" (which was reprinted of sorts in 'the Charmed Gardens of Oz' story), I remember reading how the heads that grow from the ground is where Langwidere got them!

Jared said...

Ummm, if "Charmed Gardens" claims to have the "Garden of Meats" chapter, it's not true. It used the illustrations, but Baum's text has never been found and likely no longer exists.

Joe said...

Jared, do you recall in what stories Smith reappears? I know Tinker comes back in Mr. Tinker in Oz, but I can't recall where Smith returns (an Oziana story?)