The Immigrant Post

I was recently thinking about two things that inspired this post. One was how, in the Narnia books, Aslan basically tells the Pevensies they’re too old to keep coming to Narnia. The other is how Oz always appealed to me because it seemed like a place where everyone was welcome, even if they would be deemed weird by Outside World society, and whether that actually held up in the books. It is rather noteworthy that it’s quite rare for someone to make their way into Oz and then get kicked out. A lot of visitors don’t stay, but this is generally presented as their own choice, usually because they have loved ones back at home. Mind you, some of these visitors might not have minded a guarantee that they could come back to Oz when they wanted to. Ozma did make such an arrangement with Dorothy, and you could say this was a special case as they were best friends, but in The Hidden Valley of Oz the Ozites give Jam the ability to return when he wants. Why does he get this and, say, Peter doesn’t? Yes, I know that it has to do with the characters being written by different authors, but I’m trying to look at this from an Oz-as-history perspective. Peter does seem to be pretty good at getting back to Oz repeatedly on his own, however. Anyway, it doesn’t look like Ozma has much of a vetting process. If you’ve made it to Oz, it’s your choice whether you want to stay or go, unless you’re there to invade. And even that’s not always enforced that strictly, as Ruggedo is twice allowed to stay there, after having his memory erased. He regains his memory and returns to his old ways both times, but Ozma did willingly give him a chance to live happily in Oz.

That said, is there anyone who feels unwelcome in Oz, like they just don’t belong, and that’s why they leave? It’s rare, as even visitors who are initially disturbed by the fairyland usually get to like it, and make fast friends with key members of Ozma’s court. One book in which we see an exception to this is Dorothy and the Wizard. Jim the Cab-Horse is bothered by the adventure, deeming it “unnatural” that he was able to talk. Upon arriving in Oz, the Sawhorse seems to give him a sort of existential crisis, and he’s angry enough at losing a race to the artificial horse that he lashes out at the wooden steed.

He then remarks to Zeb, “I ought to be a fairy…for to be just an ordinary horse in a fairy country is to be of no account whatever. It’s no place for us, Zeb.” While things don’t go as badly for Zeb himself, he agrees with the horse: “I think this is the loveliest country in the world; but not being fairies Jim and I feel we ought to be where we belong—and that’s at the ranch.”

Then there’s Eureka, who’s in disgrace after trying to eat Ozma’s pet piglet, and confined to Dorothy’s rooms until Ozma sends her to Kansas with her mistress.

So all three of these characters, while not officially exiled from Oz, are glad to get out of it. Oddly enough, Eureka is back at the time of Patchwork Girl, with no indication as to how she returned, and the Shaggy Man even says she a “great favorite at the royal palace.” Perhaps this isn’t entirely true, but it still suggests that even someone who personally angered Ozma can be given a second chance. And indeed, there are some stories that return Zeb and Jim to Oz as well, including Chris Dulabone’s Deadly Desert and Mary Rakestraw’s “Journal of a Journey.” In the latter, the boy and the horse are working on Uncle Henry and Aunt Em’s new farm, which makes sense. Even though the two feel they don’t fit in when visiting the Emerald City, the rural parts of Oz might seem more like home to them.

Another interesting case can be seen in Tik-Tok, in which Ozma argues with her friends over whether Betsy Bobbin, Hank, and the Shaggy Man’s brother should be allowed into Oz. These three have reached the Land of Ev, but have not gotten to Oz either by invitation or their own abilities, so Ozma wouldn’t actively be kicking them out if she didn’t allow them in. She eventually decides to let them in on the recommendations of her old friends who had become friends with them as well, and is also swayed by Shaggy saying that he himself wouldn’t come back to Oz unless his new friends were allowed in as well. Whether Shaggy is purposely bargaining with Ozma or he’s honestly willing to give up his home for the sake of the others, we don’t really know; he’s a pretty inscrutable character whose inner thoughts are usually even hidden from the omniscient narrator. Still, despite the fact that she eventually gives in, we see an Ozma here who’s largely opposed to immigration, saying, “The Land of Oz is not a refuge for all mortals in distress.” Later, she dismisses Betsy’s notion that every boy and girl should be allowed to live in Oz by saying, “It is quite fortunate for us, Betsy, that your wish cannot be granted…for all that army of girls and boys would crowd us so that we would have to move away.” It’s interesting, however, that she lets Ozga live in Oogaboo (a part of Oz) without even a token argument. Then again, she does have a boyfriend who lives there.

I wonder if Oz allows outsiders to gain citizenship through marriage. I believe this is actually the first case of someone from outside Oz coming to live there but NOT becoming part of Ozma’s court.

Next time, I’ll look at some actual instances of deportation from Oz. If you’ve read Ojo, you probably can guess who will be the main examples here.

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This entry was posted in Authors, C.S. Lewis, Characters, Chris Dulabone, Chronicles of Narnia, L. Frank Baum, Oz, Oz Authors, Rachel Cosgrove Payes, Ruth Plumly Thompson and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The Immigrant Post

  1. marbpl2 says:

    In Volkov’s stories Ellie Smith (his Dorothy) is told she’s too old to return to Magic Land after her third visit. The last three books feature her sister Annie (pretty much a clone of Ellie).

  2. Pingback: Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves | VoVatia

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