Griswold, Jerry. There's No Place but Home: The Wizard of Oz, The Antioch Review, Vol. 45, No. 4, The Romance of Toughness (Autumn, 1987), pp. 462-475
In this article, Jerry Griswold begins with an argument that it is people’s fascination with the Land of Oz that helps the story’s popularity. Many people view Oz as a utopian dream. Oz supports such heavenly ideals such freedom of the individual, voluntary acceptance of responsibility, the equal enjoyment of work and play, the folly of war, the need for sharing, and more. However, upon closer examination he likens Oz to the United States, where the land to the west is comparable to California, the lakes to the North could potentially be Michigan lakes, etc. Some scholars have suggested that Oz is simply California, and the fact that Baum had moved to California and called his home “Ozcot” reaffirms those thoughts. Griswold then goes into talking about how the story cannot be attributed to Baum alone, as it has become a folktale told over and over again, always slightly different. He examines the major differences between the original novel, and the famous 1939 film, which he decides are the two most famous telling of the story. While there are several differences, Griswold concludes that they both tell the same tale. He then proceeds to compare Oz and American life. He states that Dorothy wants to escape her life in Kansas away from Ms. Gulch who wants to kill Toto, but at the end, all she wants to do is be back home. This is because the truth is everything we need is already home. Griswold states that, “Kansas has always been Oz”.
This article is important for several reasons. First, it is the relationship of Oz to America. He mentions in the article that “immigrants think that the roads are paved of gold, only to find out they are painted yellow.” At this time, and still today, America is land of opportunity where anything is possible. He gives the example of anyone becoming President, which is now truer than ever. The comparison of Oz to America is true in the sense that America too, values the ideal in Oz. Second, his mention into the folklore of the story is important because by the very definition of folklore, we know that it means that this is a story for the common person. This is who it has its widest appeal to. Third, the message it is trying to portray is important also. In Dorothy’s desire to escape, she seemingly travels to this mystical Land of Oz However, as the film goes forward; we are reminded that we don’t need to go to Oz to make our dreams come true. If we look and work hard enough, all of our dreams are right at home. As Dorothy realizes, “There is no place like home”.