|The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
|Digital History ID 3129|
Is the Wizard of Oz just a fairy tale about a girl from Kansas
transported to a colorful land of witches and munchkins? Or does
the story have a political dimension? Scholars still disagree
about whether L. Frank Baum's great children's story was about
the collapse of the Populist movement.
Henry Littlefield, a teacher in Pebble Beach, California, was
the first person to suggest that the story was about Populism.
He argued that:
- the Scarecrow (who has no brain) represented the farmers;
- the Tin Man (who had once been a human wood-cutter, but chopped
his body parts off and replaced them with metal) represented
- the Cowardly Lion represented northern reformers;
- the Emerald City represented Wall Street, greenback colored;
- the Wizard represented the Money Power, whose influence rests
on manipulation and illusion.
Littlefield interpreted the yellow brick road as representing
gold and Dorothy's silver slippers (which were changed in the
movie to ruby slippers) as representing the Populist call for
backing the dollar with silver. Oz was the abbreviation for ounces,
a reference to the Populist call for the government to coin.
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