Sing It Hi, Sing It Lo

I was considering writing a post on prophecies in the Oz books, but it looks like I already did that. Why do I always forget my own post topics? While I mentioned that L. Frank Baum didn’t really use prophecies in his Oz books, he did in the related John Dough and the Cherub.

When John and his friends arrive on the island of Hi-Lo (also known as Lo-Hi), they find out that there’s a prophecy that the next ruler will be “a King who is wise and just, but not made of flesh and blood.” The island is made up of two kingdoms, Hiland and Loland, both presumably of equal size but quite different in composition. The Hilanders are all tall and thin and the Lolanders short and fat, with houses built to match. The capital city in the center is divided into Hie and Lo, with a wall and a castle in the middle. In The Magic of Oz, Hiland is described as a broad table-land and Loland a valley, which kind of makes me wonder how the city would work, but maybe the land is somewhere in between in the middle of the island. The people of the two countries are rather xenophobic toward their neighbors, and are forbidden to ask questions of the people on the other side of the wall or of strangers (although there’s a suggestion that this law might have been changed since the time of the book). Still, they’re ruled by the same monarch.

When John comes to the island, Chick decides the gingerbread man would fit the prophecy quite well, and he quickly becomes king. The people report that their last king and died right before that, and imply that he was neither a Hilander nor a Lolander, but we never learn anything else about this previous ruler, nor about where the prophecy originated. In John’s administration, the rubber bear Para Bruin serves as his Chief Counselor and Chick as his Head Booleywag. Chick defines a Booleywag as “the one that rules the ruler,” and Jack Snow’s Who’s Who in Oz says it’s sort of like a combination Prime Minister and court jester.

In the end, the prophecy was fulfilled, but I don’t know that there was necessarily any magic to it. Any number of beings in the Baum universe are alive without flesh and blood, and I’m sure some others are wise and just. The Scarecrow, for instance, would probably have qualified. It’s more of a quite specific quality required for the job than it is a prophecy per se.

This entry was posted in Characters, Jack Snow, L. Frank Baum, Oz, Oz Authors, Places and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Sing It Hi, Sing It Lo

  1. Pingback: A Pauper, on the Other Hand, Is Ruling, Strong and Wise | VoVatia

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