The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, XXI.— The Lion Becomes the King of Beasts
Tonight's Soundtrack: Jethro Tull, "Bungle In The Jungle"
We're headed into the endgame now, so I thought I'd run some numbers. As of this twenty-first chapter, Oz has given us
- Yellow Brick Roads: 1
- Roads to the Witch's Castle: 0
- Roads to the South [claimed]: 1
- Roads to the South [actual]: 0
- Roads to the North [mentioned]: 0
- Magic Items: 2
- Humbug tricks: 8
- Times Dorothy sleeps "on camera": 14
- Times Dorothy eats "on camera": 10
- Times Dorothy mentions her Aunt: 10
- Times Dorothy mentions her Uncle: 4
- Beheadings: 42
- Beheadings by Axe: 41
- Beheadings by Claw: 1
- Kingdoms Promised to Non-Native "Liberators": 3
- Animals killed by our heroes: 83
- Insects killed by our heroes: 41
- Giant Arachnids killed by our heroes: 1
- Humans killed by our heroes: 2
- False Gods: 1
Hurray for fairy tales!
* * *
Look, I hate a woodland-creature-eating spider of titanic proportions as much as anybody. Right? I'm wicked proud of the Lion for listening to the tale of how all his fellow lions got et by this hairy eight-legged monster and still going off to battle - even though his "Courage" consisted of a saucer full of sherry set out by a charlatan! He thinks he's brave, so he acts in a brave manner. Well done, you. Go fight that spider. Become a King.
This is what's so Baum, though: the terrifying monster which the Lion must defeat to claim his birthright? That monster is asleep right now. So the Lion just kind of murders it. In its sleep. There's no epic battle. There's no dramatic reaffirmation of courage in the face of pain and danger. Basically, a stealthy sheep with an ice pick could have done the same thing.
You point out to Baum that he’s not following the rules of fantasy drama and he’ll say, “What? The spider was asleep.”