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Archive for July, 2012

An ilustration by Kevin Hawkes for “The Road to Oz” by Katheen Krull from the blog by Jules: Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.

Allow me if you will to reach into my bag of tricks and perform, before your very eyes, one of the first, if not the first, sex change operations on a literary character. Imagine for a moment, that Dorothy Gale was Daniel Gale. How different that would be. Or should I present that in the form of a question: How different would that be?

Imagine if….Harry Potter had  been Harriet, Peter Pan had been Pamela Pan, Flat Stanley had been Flat Stephanie and Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn had been Tammy and …. How different those stories would have been from beginning to end.

But for now, I want to imagine what “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” might have been like if Dorothy had been Daniel…in the book, not the movie because Hollywood twisted the original story to the point where it is virtually impossible to imagine Dorothy being anything but Dorothy.

Note: Considering the fact that L. Frank Baum, the Oz author, only had sons, you would have thought he would have opted to write the story using a boy instead of a girl. Whatever.

In the book Dorothy was a victim of circumstances. She wasn’t waxing sentimental about a place beyond a rainbow. She just got blown away because she went to rescue Toto, which makes me think he knew what he was doing…but that’s another story for another blog.

Once in the Land of Oz, Daniel would have been in for a rough go of it. Instead of denying that he killed the Wicked Witch of the East, I believe he would have been boastful, taking full credit for the dastardly deed.

When confronted with the Good Witch I think Daniel would have been become very skeptical. And those silver shoes (ruby if you must) would have been the last thing he would have put on his feet.

Would he have followed the Yellow Brick Road? I don’t know about that. But I do know his relationship with the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Lion would have been entirely different. There definitely would have been much more horseplay and less discipline.

I also think Daniel would have accepted the Wizard’s challenge to kill the Wicked Witch of the West without hesitation, unlike Dorothy who reasoned that she was not a killer.

I dare to say, though, that the WW of the West would have had her day with Daniel because he would have taken too many unnecessary risks. And that’s where the story would have ended unhappily ever after.

I don’t think Dorothy could have been a Daniel, a David or a Darren. I think Dorothy had to be Dorothy. I think Baum made the wisest literary choice ever because his story was ultimately about “empowerment.” And he wrote it, I believe, because he had witnessed firsthand the early days of the women’s rights under the leadership of his mother-in-law Matilda Joslyn Gage.

If Dorothy had been Daniel the story would have shifted from “empowerment” to “power,” which in my mind is not as powerful as empowerment.

Dorothy’s journey through Oz empowered her. It woke up the sleeping beauty in her. It set her on the path to freedom.

Dorothy killed not only the wicked witch but doused the flames that licked at her soul and kept her a prisoner. Dorothy made a triumphant return to Oz and claimed what rightfully belonged to her despite the fact that the Wizard was powerless to grant the wish he had promised.

It was the whole idea of empowerment that inspired me to write my books, “Dorothy: This Side of the Rainbow” and “Looking for a Rainbow: The Story of Dorothy.” I wanted Dorothy to continue to grow and to reach her full potential. (Sorry, Daniel, you didn’t make the cut.)

(Commercial break: both books are available in print and electronic format at Barnes and Noble and Amazon)

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