Tuesday, October 07, 2014
The Characters of Oz — Woot the Wanderer
Peter Glassman—in his afterword to The Tin Woodman of Oz—suggested that Button-Bright or Ojo could have filled Woot's place. Perhaps, but bringing in a new character allowed Baum to prompt a retelling of the Tin Woodman's origin, which the other two characters would have likely heard before.
In addition, Baum's boys are scarcely clones of each other. Woot, with a fresh perspective on the Tin Woodman, sets off the whole adventure by asking why the Tin Woodman didn't marry Nimee Amee. Button-Bright could have thought of this point, but it's unlikely he would have pressed about it as Woot does. Ojo likewise would have thought little of the Tin Woodman's past romance. Woot instead questions the kindness of the Tin Woodman since he won't return to someone he claimed to have loved. Baum needed a new character who would get more involved in the Tin Woodman's story, though it does stand to reason that he could have used a girl instead. But with four girls in Oz who likely knew of the Tin Woodman's origin anyway, perhaps Baum wished to use a boy this time.
I believe I once heard an argument that one of Baum's boys might have been originally intended to be a girl, but I can't recall if it was Ojo or Woot.
Anyway, Woot proves to be a foil to the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman, questioning some of the things they do and being key in their escapes from Loonville and Yoop Castle. Even when he's turned into a Green Monkey, Woot manages to save himself from a jaguar, then dragons he finds underground.
After Polychrome is restored and Captain Fyter joins the company, Woot gets pushed into the background. When the story ends, Ozma allows him to continue wandering (as if he needed permission) and promises to look out for him.
Woot never reappears in the Famous Forty Oz books, but he does appear in Eric Shanower's "The Final Fate of the Frogman," and in a story I was working on but since abandoned, he would have been a captive of a creature who guarded a mysterious fountain.
Has Woot wandered into any Oz stories I'm unaware of? Or perhaps one day he'll wander into another one...