Saturday, May 03, 2014

The Characters of Oz — Scraps, the Patchwork Girl

Having a magician for a husband is pretty lonely, particularly when he works on magic powders that take years to create. All there is to do is keep the place clean, cook the meals, and then enjoy yourself.

Dr. Pipt was aware of this, that was why he brought Bungle to life to keep Margolotte company. But what if she was able to have help with the housework? Although Dr. Pipt (probably) never saw the Scarecrow before The Patchwork Girl of Oz began, he was aware that a stuffed man was alive in the Land of Oz. And he knew that the Powder had brought to life Jack Pumpkinhead. So why not make a servant for Margolotte so she could have more time to relax?

Margolotte used an old patchwork quilt that her grandmother had made and used it to create a servant girl. The girl, which she dubbed "Angeline," was a little taller than most Munchkins. Baum describes her pretty well. (Although Neill's illustrations became iconic for the character, note where Neill differed from the text.)
Margolotte had first made the girl's form from the patchwork quilt and then she had dressed it with a patchwork skirt and an apron with pockets in it—using the same gay material throughout. Upon the feet she had sewn a pair of red leather shoes with pointed toes. All the fingers and thumbs of the girl's hands had been carefully formed and stuffed and stitched at the edges, with gold plates at the ends to serve as finger-nails...

The head of the Patchwork Girl was the most curious part of her. While she waited for her husband to finish making his Powder of Life the woman had found ample time to complete the head as her fancy dictated, and she realized that a good servant's head must be properly constructed. The hair was of brown yarn and hung down on her neck in several neat braids. Her eyes were two silver suspender-buttons cut from a pair of the Magician's old trousers, and they were sewed on with black threads, which formed the pupils of the eyes. Margolotte had puzzled over the ears for some time, for these were important if the servant was to hear distinctly, but finally she had made them out of thin plates of gold and attached them in place by means of stitches through tiny holes bored in the metal...

The woman had cut a slit for the Patchwork Girl's mouth and sewn two rows of white pearls in it for teeth, using a strip of scarlet plush for a tongue. This mouth Ojo considered very artistic and lifelike, and Margolotte was pleased when the boy praised it. There were almost too many patches on the face of the girl for her to be considered strictly beautiful, for one cheek was yellow and the other red, her chin blue, her forehead purple and the center, where her nose had been formed and padded, a bright yellow.
 After Ojo and Unc Nunkie arrived, coincidentally the day the Powder of Life would be completed, they got to witness Margolotte put the final touches on "Angeline": the brains. The magic brains were made of powder and would add certain qualities to the servant girl. Margolotte added Obedience first and foremost, then Amiability, Truth, and—on Unc Nunkie's suggestion—a little Cleverness.

Ojo felt sorry for "Angeline" and decided to interfere. He added some of all the qualities to the brains as Margolotte and Unc Nunkie helped Dr. Pipt: Judgment, Courage, Ingenuity, Learning, Truth, Poesy, and Self Reliance.

So perhaps Ojo was to blame for why when "Angeline" came to life the next day, she danced wildly to the music they were playing and caused the accident that proved so pivotal to the storyline of the book. With Margolotte and Unc Nunkie turned into marble statues, Ojo was set off to find the ingredients for an antidote, and the Patchwork Girl and Glass Cat would go off with him.

Except "Angeline" didn't like her name. She instead decided to go by Bungle's suggestion "Scraps" as it suited her quite well. Because with all of those brains, particularly Self Reliance, Scraps was not willing to be told how she should express herself or how to behave. She was her own person and she'd choose who she allied herself with and what she would do. She would sing her own nonsensical but whimsical songs and dance as she wished.

Scraps would assist or sometimes prove to be a bit of a troublemaker on her first adventure. She went in after the Woozy and shielded Ojo from Chiss, but she also got herself kicked out of the mysterious house and later attempted to hide Ojo's picking of a seven-leafed clover from Ozma. To be sure, she did it because she didn't want Ojo to be caught and punished, but it was still a dishonest act, and as the story turned out, it would have been easier if she hadn't interfered.

Scraps also got to meet the Scarecrow, and seeing someone similar in construction to herself, she became rather smitten.

After the adventure in The Patchwork Girl of Oz was over, Scraps stayed in the Emerald City. Although she retained her impetuous and independent spirit, the people of the Emerald City and the Palace accepted her for who she was and they built mutual understandings.

I was once asked to build a dynamic between Ozma and Scraps, and I said that I think Ozma is a little envious of Scraps' carefree spirit, as well as being amused by her ingenuity. Perhaps she keeps Scraps around because of Scraps is a little of who she could be, if she wasn't the ruler of Oz.

Scraps is also a little instrumental in Baum's The Lost Princess of Oz, helping out Dorothy and the Wizard by joining their search party, and also finding the Frogman and merging the two parties.

Ruth Plumly Thompson was obviously quite fond of Scraps, though she rarely had a lead role, her most notable appearance being in The Gnome King of Oz in which she becomes the new Queen of the Quilties, a role she doesn't enjoy. During the events of Jack Pumpkinhead of Oz, she is briefly turned into a bird.

John R. Neill brought Scraps back in a more prominent role in The Wonder City of Oz, in which she has her first ever costume change thanks to Jenny Jump's turn-style, which sets her at odds with Jenny. Later, she is stranded on the planet of the chocolate soldiers.

It is Neill's long-unfinished The Runaway in Oz that finally put Scraps back in the lead role of an Oz story. After Scraps does the wrong things at the wrong time, she runs away from the Emerald City on her Spoolicle and meets new friends has many adventures before finally deciding to return to the Emerald City to apologize. Along the way, she meets Popla the Power Plant, who she forms a devoted relationship with.

Scraps is one of the more popular Oz characters, and given her colorful and open personality, it's easy to see why. As Kim McFarland said once, Scraps and the Scarecrow make a good think tank, Scraps being one who thinks outside the box, even though she's so far from the box, she can barely see it

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