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Book Club Wed Aug 06 2008

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Discussion Questions

Below are some of the questions we'll use to discuss L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz next week. I'm looking forward to hearing what everyone thought about the book and how childhood familiarity with the story or sole familiarity with the movie affected your readings. It's a fast read, so if you haven't picked it up yet, you still have plenty of time to get through it and join us for discussion.

  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz has been called the first American fairy tale and Baum's intentions were to write a fairy tale that differed from the older, European ones. How is this story different from other fairy tales you've read or are familiar with? Would you call Oz particularly American?

  • Baum is said to have disliked the way traditional fairy tales taught morals and values. Does Oz express any particulary values or moral lessons? How does Baum communicate them in the story?

  • Is this story accessible to a modern audience? Is there anything dated about it? Do you think it will continue to appeal to children in future generations?

  • The Scarecrow yearns for a brain, but he's actually the most intelligent and logical person in the group. Is this irony present elsewhere in the story? What purpose does it serve?

  • Why does the Wizard behave the way he does? Is his behavior excusable or not? He describes himself as a good man but a bad wizard - do you agree?

  • Do money and capitalism play any roles in Oz? What is valued in the land of Oz compared to what is valued in the real world?

  • In his Preface to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Baum says that he aimed to create a tale in which "wonderment and joy are retained and the heart-aches and nightmares are left out." Do you think he succeeded? Do you think that this type of optimism and pure entertainment are valuable?

  • What are the power dynamics in Oz? How does one get and lose power in Oz?

  • Baum's mother-in-law was a feminist and a suffragette. Do you think the ideals of feminism influenced Baum's writing of Oz? In particular, how would you view Dorothy and the witches in a feminist context?

     
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