Monday, February 03, 2014

The Characters of Oz — Ozma's guests

So Dorothy and her friends had arrived in Oz in time for Ozma's grand birthday party. Now having established herself as ruler of Oz and having the Wizard as her aide, Ozma was ready to show off her kingdom to outside nobility.

Many readers spot curious faces and names in the list of Ozma's guests, but anyone who had been avidly reading Baum's output since 1900 was rewarded in The Road to Oz: they are all characters from his other works!

First was John Dough, the gingerbread king of Hiland and Loland. Accompanying him is Chick the Cherub, the androgynous Head Booleywag, and Para Bruin, the Rubber Bear.

John and Chick were the title characters of Baum's 1906 novel John Dough and the Cherub. John was made to display in a bakery store window, but a magic elixir got mixed into his dough and brought him to life. Fleeing on a Fourth of July rocket, John wound up on the Isle of Phreex where he met Chick, the Incubator Baby. Needing to flee, the two eventually wound up on Mifket Island, where they made new friends in Pittypat the Rabbit, Jacqueline the Island Princess and her parents, the King of the Fairy Beavers, and Para Bruin, a bear made of Para rubber, able to bounce from high places.

However, John's arrival spurred the nasty actions of the cruel little Mifkets. Jacqueline and her family soon fled the island, and the King of the Fairy Beavers helped John, Chick and Para leave as well, and they soon wound up on the island containing the twin nations of Hiland (populated by tall, thin people) and Loland (populated by short, rotund people), where an agreement between the nations allowed John to become the King.

Chick's gender was curiously left a mystery. A publicity article for the book claims that the editors noted it to Baum after he dropped off the manuscript, and he said the readers would decide if the Cherub was a boy or girl. As this was to lead in for a write-in contest where readers would decide Chick's gender, I'm a little suspect of it being truthful. Word has it the contest ended in a tie. On the other hand, the fact that Chick's gender isn't specified could be seen as a huge step to dissolving gender-based barriers in Baum's fantasy world.

The next guest to be announced at Ozma's party is none other than Santa Claus himself, accompanied by Ryls and Knooks from the Forest of Burzee. This is, of course, the same version of Claus from The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus and the short story "A Kidnapped Santa Claus."

Claus was adopted by the Immortals of the Forest of Burzee, and raised as an innocent man, unaware of the hardships of humanity. When finally shown other mortal humans, he decided to dedicate his life to easing their hardship, by making children happy. This soon led to his inventing toys and eventually, his Christmas Eve deliveries with a reindeer-drawn sleigh. When he was about to die, he was granted the Mantle of Immortality to indefinitely continue his work.

Then next is the Queen of Merryland and the Candy Man, who had previously appeared in Dot and Tot of Merryland.

The Candy Man was the man who befriended Dot and Tot as they sailed through his second valley of Merryland, explaining that his flesh is rather like marshmallow. (Dorothy notes that one of his thumbs appears to have been bitten off by someone very fond of candy. It was Tot.) To keep himself from sticking, he liberally dusts himself with powdered sugar. As long as he doesn't get eaten, he's quite cordial. (Disturbingly, he mentions that if someone is too badly damaged in his country and are beyond repair, they may be eaten.)

The Queen is a large wax doll who rules Merryland with her fairy wand and thinking machine. A running plotline in the book was that the Queen forgot to tell Dot and Tot her name. At the end of the book, Tot realizes it must be Dolly. A little disturbingly, the Queen of Merryland can choose when her the dolls in her Valley will have motion and when they won't.

The Royal Family of Ev arrived next, soon followed by the Braided Man of Pyramid Mountain, who Dorothy had met in Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz. One might wonder if the Braided Man moved away permanently since he seems to be able to get away. (According to some non-Famous Forty Oz books, yes he did.)

Also arriving was King Dox of Foxville, who had befriended Dorothy on her journey to Ozma's party and had actually informed her of it. Despite him giving Button-Bright a fox's head, Dorothy rewarded him by asking Ozma to invite him. He had several fox children, and also had the private name Renard IV.

Queen Zixi of Ix by Neill
Next was a triple royalty arrival: King Bud of Noland, his sister Princess Fluff and Queen Zixi of Ix, all from Baum's 1905 book Queen Zixi of Ix.

Fluff is actually Bud's older sister, but thanks to some luck and a magic cloak, Bud was named the new King of Noland when he arrived in the city of Nole with his sister and Aunt Rivette. The cloak would grant wishes, and after a few mishaps with it, the cloak became famous and attracted the attention of Queen Zixi of the neighboring country of Ix. Zixi set about to steal it, and after trying trickery and open war, finally got the cloak through disguise and making a duplicate cloak. However, she didn't know the cloak wouldn't work for anyone who had stolen it, so she left it by a river.

Zixi wanted the cloak because she was an ancient witch and had to mask her natural ugliness with her magic which would not be reflected in a mirror. However, when Bud and Fluff were forced to flee to her kingdom, Zixi confessed her crime, helped them find the cloak and rescue Noland from invaders. Thus, the three became good friends, though Zixi was never able to make her wish.
Bud, Fluff and Zixi by Fredric Richardson

While Dorothy didn't receive them, she noted that further guests included King Kika-bray of Dunkiton (who had given the Shaggy Man a donkey's head when Dorothy visited his town), Johnny Dooit (a quick working man the Shaggy Man summoned with the Love Magnet to make a sandboat that carried Dorothy over the desert), and the Good Witch of the North.

Baum would later introduce more countries seemingly snubbed by not being invited: King Rinkitink of Gilgad, the rulers of Boboland, and of course Thompson would introduce a multitude of new kingdoms and sub-kingdoms. But of course since they hadn't been introduced yet, they wouldn't be mentioned in the book. John R. Neill himself added the Queen of the Field Mice to Ozma's party by placing her on the table at Ozma's banquet.

To me, the biggest snub was that there was no delegation from the Valley of Mo. The Monarch of Mo likely would gladly attend the festivities with his queen and their children and likely the Wise Donkey. But Baum doesn't mention them. So they weren't there? Or were they? The Wise Donkey of Mo appears in The Patchwork Girl of Oz, mentioning he's been cut off from returning to Mo after visiting Oz on the day it was made invisible to outside world. Could it be that this delegation had attended Ozma's party and the Wise Donkey planned a second visit?

I brought the Monarch of Mo into my book Outsiders from Oz and briefly considered him mentioning that he hadn't been invited to attend Ozma's grand party. But since Outsiders certainly takes place a long time after The Road to Oz, I decided that the Monarch would be very friendly to Ozma, who actually at one point questions her diplomatic relations with Mo. (This is the scene in which she questions where she'll go for help.)

But what do you think? Were there more guests at Ozma's party than even Mr. Baum could describe?


Nathan said...

I have to wonder if Baum originally considered Mo to be part of a different universe, even though he would later tie it to Oz in Scarecrow. I remember a bit in "The Oz Gazette" (possibly written by Eric Gjovaag) that said the Monarch didn't attend the birthday party, but he and Ozma did meet a few years later. As for other guests, I think it likely that Jinjur was in attendance, as she and Polychrome seem to already know each other in Tin Woodman. Of course, she isn't from outside Oz.

Anonymous said...

Re Mo, Baum mentions it under it's original name "Phunnyland" in THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF SANTA CLAUS, so it should be in the same universe as Burzee, Oz et al.

There is also the Isle of Yew, although that book has the place becoming 'civilized' eventually and perhaps not the sort that would be invited to the party (assuming that Baum considered it near the Ozian continent to begin with).