LIT 4334: The Golden Age of Children's Literature

There’s No Place Like Home

on March 21, 2013 12:42pm

“No matter how dreary and gray our homes are, we people of flesh and blood would rather live there than in any other country, be it ever so beautiful. There is no place like home.”

This quote from L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz reveals on of the major ideals of his novel: the importance of home and family. Although Dorothy’s home setting is gray and dull, what matters most is being in a place of love, warmth, and family. Many people would not like to call Kansas their home. It is a place filled with cyclones, cracked land, and colorless skies. Yet at the same time, it is also an area filled with love, caring, and happiness.

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When Dorothy is transported to the land of Oz, she is immediately amazed by the bright colors, beautiful flowers, and friendly little people. She meets new comrades along the way who provide for and protect her from the various dangers. Although Dorothy makes loyal friends and enjoys the beauty of Oz, she still dearly longs to return home to her family. The beauties and wonders of Oz are not as important to Dorothy as is being back with Aunt Em even though Kansas is gray and colorless.

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Through Dorothy’s desire to return home, Baum teaches readers a very significant lesson – simply being with family and loved ones is more important than materialistic ideas, such as beauty and splendor. Children learn that being in an environment of kindness and concern is what matters most in life. In addition, Baum also incorporates the dangers of a strange land to teach children that what may seem like a better life in a new world may in fact present more dangers and harm. I definitely that Baum’s theme of the importance of home permeates among children. The movie version successfully incorporates this theme. As a young girl, I remember dressing as Dorothy on Halloween and reenacting the clicking of the ruby slippers scene. The phrase, “There’s no place like home,” as stuck with me ever since and I still recognize the significance of my being with my family.

Here is a video of the scene from the movie.

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2 responses to “There’s No Place Like Home

  1. mrmg0 says:

    I agree with your assessment of what Baum seems to be emphasizing with the importance of home and all it represents with having Dorothy choose the despicable and dismal setting of gray Kansas, over the apparent colorful beauty and materialism of Oz. However, I think your final assessment leaves out an important part about the inhabitants of Oz and how they care or Dorothy and how it compares to her desire for Kansas over Oz.
    You note that Dorothy wants to return to Kansas to be with her love ones, and that is of the highest importance, yet this seems to leave all the other characters that care for Dorothy, in Oz, unfairly categorized as not loving and caring for her in comparison to her aunt and uncle. In the “materialistic” Oz we have Dorothy’s three companions who love and care for her and protect and help her through their physical virtues or wise advice and who wish only for Dorothy’s comfort and safety. This analysis also leaves out all the others who look at Dorothy for guidance and with wonder, such as the Munchkins and Winkies.
    Nearly all of these inhabitants had, at one point intimated that Dorothy would be better off staying in Oz, and though she stands steadfast throughout the entirety of the book, I believe that only when the great Oz reveals that he can’t really do magic and take her home that we see that Dorothy really does care for her home and it is not a pretext.

  2. I think that your assessment of Dorothy’s values is correct. However, I think that the motives you have attributed to Baum are probably less than correct. From what we talked about in class, it always sounded like Baum was not trying to teach any lesson. Indeed, in his prologue, he says something to the effect of, “I just want to create a fun story, rather than try to teach children anything. Let the schools teach the kids morals, I’m just going to have fun with them.” Baum’s goal was simply to show off this wonderful beautiful world that he had created (and apparently, to make some money doing it), he didn’t want to try to teach the children anything.

    However, I think there is also some value in the wise words of Nanny McPhee: “I have five lessons to teach. What lessons they learn is entirely up to them.” The children could easily take whatever lesson they want from the books of L. Frank Baum, just as you took from them that “There’s no place like home.” That, to me, is far more interesting than anything that Baum may or may not have intended: that a story, whether or not it has any intrinsic lesson intentionally written in, can be important to a variety of different people for a variety of different reasons. That, to me, is what truly makes a children’s classic (or, I suppose, a classic in general).

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