As my regular readers know, I’ve been reading all the Oz books this year. There are over 40 in the official cannon, and I finished The Emerald City of OZ recently. I enjoyed many things about this children’s book, and particularly appreciated the satire in this volume.
Flutterbudget Center and Rigmarole Town are called ‘the Defensive Settlements of Oz.” It was here, in particular, that I detected subtle satire in the structure of the chapter. The overt statements about the two places were not subtle.
On the Flutterbudgets:
“All your troubles are due to those ‘ifs’,” declared the Wizard. “If you were not a Flutterbudget you wouldn’t worry.”
“There’s another ‘if’,” replied the woman. “Are you a Flutterbudget, too?”
“I will be, if I stay here long,” exclaimed the Wizard, nervously.
“Another ‘if’!” cried the woman.
But the Wizard did not stop to argue with her. He made the Sawhorse canter all the way down the hill, and only breathed easily when they were miles away from the village.
After they had ridden in silence for a while Dorothy turned to the little man and asked:
“Do ‘ifs’ really make Flutterbudgets?”
“I think the ‘ifs’ help,” he answered seriously. “Foolish fears, and worries over nothing, with a mixture of nerves and ifs, will soon make a Flutterbudget of any one.”
Then there was another long silence, for all the travelers were thinking over this statement, and nearly all decided it must be true.
Our intrepid adventurers spent less time in Rigmarole time than any other community they visit.
“Is this Rigmarole Town?”
“Sir,” replied the boy, “if you have traveled very much you will have noticed that every town differs from every other town in one way or another and so by observing the methods of the people and the way they live as well as the style of their dwelling places it ought not to be a difficult thing to make up your mind without the trouble of asking questions whether the town bears the appearance of the one you intended to visit or whether perhaps having taken a different road from the one you should have taken you have made an error in your way and arrived at some point where–”
“Land sakes!” cried Aunt Em, impatiently; “what’s all this rigmarole about?”
“That’s it!” said the Wizard, laughing merrily. “It’s a rigmarole because the boy is a Rigmarole and we’ve come to Rigmarole Town.”
“Do they all talk like that?” asked Dorothy, wonderingly.
“He might have said ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and settled the question,” observed Uncle Henry.
Soon they had enough:
“Let’s don’t wait,” returned Dorothy. “I’ve heard of the Rigmaroles, and wondered what they were like; but now I know, and I’m ready to move on.”
“So am I,” declared Uncle Henry; “we’re wasting time here.”
“Why, we’re all ready to go,” said the Shaggy Man, putting his fingers to his ears to shut out the monotonous babble of those around the wagon.
“Perhaps some of ’em do write books,” asserted the little Wizard. “I’ve read a few rigmaroles that might have come from this very town.”
“Some of the college lecturers and ministers are certainly related to these people,” observed the Shaggy Man; “and it seems to me the Land of Oz is a little ahead of the United States in some of its laws. For here, if one can’t talk clearly, and straight to the point, they send him to Rigmarole Town; while Uncle Sam lets him roam around wild and free, to torture innocent people.”
Dorothy was thoughtful. The Rigmaroles had made a strong impression upon her. She decided that whenever she spoke, after this, she would use only enough words to express what she wanted to say.
There were sound lessons in these short chapters.
Here are a few other quotes that I liked:
“To be angry once in a while is really good fun, because it makes others so miserable. But to be angry morning, noon and night, as I am, grows monotonous and prevents my gaining any other pleasure in life.”
“Now then, Mr. Crab,” said the zebra, “here are the people I told you about; and they know more than you do, who live in a pool, and more than I do, who live in a forest. For they have been travelers all over the world, and know every part of it.”
“There’s more of the world than Oz,” declared the crab, in a stubborn voice.
“That is true,” said Dorothy; “but I used to live in Kansas, in the United States, and I’ve been to California and to Australia–and so has Uncle Henry.”
“For my part,” added the Shaggy Man, “I’ve been to Mexico and Boston and many other foreign countries.”
“And I,” said the Wizard, “have been to Europe and Ireland.”
“So you see,” continued the zebra, addressing the crab, “here are people of real consequence, who know what they are talking about.”
“People often do a good deed without hope of reward, but for an evil deed they always demand payment.”