The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Summary

L. Frank Baum

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

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The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Summary

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Published in 1900, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a beloved children’s classic by L. Frank Baum. It was adapted in 1939 into an iconic film starring Judy Garland.

In the novel, Dorothy is young farm girl living with her Aunt Em and Uncle Henry on the Kansas prairie. Their one room home has a storm shelter underground and Dorothy’s bed is in the corner. Dorothy’s best friend and playmate is her loyal dog Toto.

When a tornado strikes, Aunt Em heads yells for Dorothy to get into the storm shelter, but she delays because her beloved Toto is under her bed. The entire house is lifted into the air and carried for miles by the cyclone with Dorothy and Toto inside. The frightened and exhausted Dorothy falls asleep.

Dorothy wakes up in the beautiful, colorful Munchkin Territory in the Land of Oz. A group of three very short men approach her. They are joined by The Witch of the North who thanks Dorothy for killing the Wicked Witch of the East, the evil ruler of the Munchkins.

Unbeknownst to Dorothy, her house had landed on the Wicked Witch of the East and killed her. The legs of the Wicked Witch of the East stick out from under the house, shod in silver shoes. The Witch of the North presents the shoes to Dorothy.

Dorothy is very confused and does not understand where she is. She does not remember killing anyone. And she believes that all witches are evil. The Witch of the North explains that there are good witches and evil witches. The Witches of the North and South are good, while those of the East and West are evil. She also mentions a Great Wizard named Oz.

Dorothy asks the Witch of the North and the munchkins how to get home to Kansas. The Witch of the North tells her to follow the yellow brick road to Oz, as the Great Wizard might know what to do. She kisses Dorothy to grant hersafe passage for her journey to Oz. Before setting off on her journey, Dorothy changes into a blue gingham dress and the silver slippers.

On her journey, Dorothy sees a Scarecrow in a field, who gives her a friendly wink. After her initial surprise, she helps the Scarecrow off his pole and introduces herself and explains where she is going. The Scarecrow asks to join Dorothy on her journey to Oz so that he can ask the wizard for a brain, instead of a head of straw.

Dorothy, Toto, and the Scarecrow continue on their journey to Oz together. While drinking and bathing in a forest in a stream, a rusted Tin Woodman appears. The Tin Woodman is thrilled when Dorothy oils his joints and he can finally move again. After hearing that they are going to Oz, the Tin Woodman asks if he can join them to ask the Wizard of Oz for a heart.

Joined now by the Tin Woodman, the group walks deeper into the frightening woods. A large lion jumps out and is about to attack Toto. Dorothy saves Toto by slapping the lion on his nose and yelling at him not to bite her dog. The Cowardly Lion apologizes and explains that to hide his cowardice he roars to scare everyone. He asks to join them on their journey to Oz to ask the wizard for courage.

Dorothy, Toto and their three companions finally reach Oz and are taken to see the wizard one by one. Dorothy explains to the wizard how she got the silver shoes and the mark on her head and asks for help to get home to Kansas. Oz says he will only grant their wishes if they kill the Wicked Witch of the West.

They travel to the land of the Winkies to kill the witch. The Wicked Witch attacks Dorothy and her friends with wolves and crows, which they are able to fight off. The witch uses a Golden Cap to send winged monkeys to enslave the Lion, drop the Tin Woodman on sharp rocks and  break apart the Scarecrow. Dorothy is captured and forced to work in the witch’s kitchen. The witch wants Dorothy’s powerful silver shoes, but cannot figure out how to take them from her. The witch trips Dorothy with an invisible bar, which causes a shoe to fall off. Angered, Dorothy throws a bucket of water on the witch which causes the witch to melt away.

Dorothy reunites with her friends and heads back to Oz to ask the Wizard to fulfill his end of their bargain. They discover that the great and powerful Oz is just an old man who used disguises to appear to be a great wizard. The next morning, Oz gives the Scarecrow a new head filled with a brain made of bran, pins, and needles. He gives the Tin Woodman a silk heart stuffed with sawdust. He gives the Lion a courage potion. The Wizard agrees to take Dorothy and Toto home in a hot air balloon but it flies away before Dorothy and Toto board.

Dorothy is told that Glinda, the Good Witch of the South may be able to help her. When they find Glinda, she tells Dorothy that the silver shoes she wears can take her anywhere she wants to go. She knocks her heels together three times and wishes to go home. She whirls through the air back to her family in Kansas.