Study Guide

The Wizard of Oz Coming of Age

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Coming of Age

The Hero's Journey is big on coming of age: when an earnest young person learns to grow up and take responsibility for their actions.

Dorothy is really young – she's only supposed to be eleven, though Judy Garland was a few years older – but when her dog is threatened, she has to grow up and experience a little bit of what the world is like. Luckily for her, she gets to do it in a land where everyone routinely breaks into musical numbers. But even so, it teaches her a few things about taking responsibility for her own destiny. She ends up back in her own room, but she's not the little girl she used to be: a little sadder, maybe, but also a little wiser and with a much better sense of who she is.

Questions About Coming of Age

  1. Can you consider Dorothy's companions children too? Do they need to come of age the same way she does?
  2. In what ways does Dorothy grow up on her trip? In what ways does she show that to us?
  3. Does the Wizard ever come of age? Why or why not?
  4. Is it possible that Dorothy has to leave Oz because they're still children there and she is no longer a child? Why or why not?

Chew on This

A land like Oz is perpetually child-like, and because Dorothy comes of age in it, she must leave it once she's grown.

The real world of adulthood, like Oz, might seem awesome, but is filled with danger. Better to stay home and not grow up.

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