Study Guide

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West Volume 1, Chapter 1

By Gregory Maguire

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Volume 1, Chapter 1

The Root of Evil

  • Well, this is a rather fitting chapter title for a Witch's origin story.
  • Meet the parents of the Wicked Witch of the West: Frexspar (a.k.a. Frex) and Melena, who live in Rush Margins, Munchkinland. (Frex and Melena aren't short Munchkinlanders, by the way.)
  • Melena is pregnant and complaining about how huge she is.
  • Her husband is less than interested in the imminent birth of his first child. He is a minister (yes, the Witch's father is a religious leader) and he has a big sermon to give today.
  • Melena goes outside to do some chores and sings to herself, thinking about her baby boy.
  • Frex dresses up in black and practices his sermon.
  • The two get into a small spat over breakfast. Melena is mad that Frex plans to leave her today when she is expecting to go into labor.
  • Frex thinks going out to scold people for immoral behavior is more fun and less messy.
  • Frex even thinks that a potential failed sermon is better than childbirth: "to fail in the cause of a high moral concern was satisfying to him. How could it compare with the flesh, blood, mess, and noise of having a baby?" (1.1.44)
  • Frex leaves, and Melena is resigned to being alone for the day.
  • Fun fact: We learn about religion in Oz here. Frex is a "Unionist" minister who believes in the "Unnamed God." Unionism sounds like a rough equivalent to Protestantism.

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