Friday, September 19, 2014

The Characters of Oz — Cayke and the Frogman

In a corner of the Winkie Country is the country of the Yips on a high hill surrounded by brambles. Most of the Yips are simple people who live in scattered homes with winding paths between them.

There are—or were—a couple notable citizens among the Yips. There was Cayke the Cookie Cook, who baked cookies for the Yips, but had a secret: her talent for good baking was actually due to her golden, diamond-studded dishpan. So when it was stolen, she had to stop baking cookies. Her first batch without it burned up in the oven, the second one was too tough, and the third one proved edible, but unremarkable.

When the Yips prove to be of no help in finding out who took the dishpan, Cayke goes to the Frogman, who was actually an ordinary frog, but had eaten a magic skosh in his old pond and had grown to man-size. The Yips believed him to be wise, which he decided to maintain. Most of the Yips could be fooled by his talk, but he was no wiser than anyone else.
When Cayke discovered that the Frogman couldn't help her, she decided to set out on her own to find her dishpan. Some Yips (who were quickly dissuaded by the brambles) set out with her, as did the Frogman, who helped her reach Winkie Country proper.

In Winkie Country, the Frogman's pompous nature was soon defeated when he happened to bathe in the Truth Pond and was then compelled to confess to Cayke that his reputation was false.

As they journeyed, the two came to Bear Center, where they discovered that the dishpan was stolen by Ugu the Shoemaker. Being joined by the Big Lavender Bear of Bear Center and the little Pink Bear, they later joined the Wizard's search party for Ozma and assisted them as they could. Finally, Ozma and the stolen items were finally recovered, the dishpan being the last of all.

The Lost Princess of Oz doesn't tell us if Cayke went back to the Yips. It says she was enjoying her visit to the Emerald City and was in no hurry to get back. Perhaps she stayed, the Famous Forty tells us nothing else of her.

Cayke is another strong female character by Baum. She sets out, determining to go alone if she has to. John Bell has pointed out that Neill draws her as rather young, but Baum calls her "dried-up," which suggests that she was older.

The Frogman doesn't have any future Famous Forty roles, but appears in large scenes in the new later Baum books, and Lost Princess says he became a favorite, so perhaps he stayed on still. While outside the Famous Forty, Eric Shanower gives the Frogman a bittersweet tale in "The Final Fate of the Frogman," in which he guards the Truth Pond to prevent anyone who's unaware of what it can do from using it. His reasons are spelled out in the story.

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