Study Guide

The Wizard of Oz Family

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There's the family you're born into, and the family you choose. The Wizard of Oz puts both of them front and center. Dorothy has the flesh-and-blood family she's trying to get back to, and while they may be a little stone-faced, they certainly do care about Dorothy. They're definitely worth fighting to get home to, and their memory keeps her going even when the freaky nightmares start closing in.

Along the way to getting home to her birth family, she finds another one: her three companions. (And okay, the Munchkins and Winkies and Emerald City-ans as well, though they're less personal.) Like her "real" family, they're there for her through thick and thin, and willing to throw themselves in front of a runaway broomstick if it means saving her. That's no less important than her family back in Kansas. Ironically, she has to end up leaving them: putting the family she's born into over the family she chooses. Tough decision, but no one said the Hero's Journey was all sunshine.

Questions About Family

  1. How do Dorothy's family members (real and chosen) demonstrate her importance to them? How does Dorothy return the compliment?
  2. How does the film define family? In what ways do we see that definition in action?
  3. In what ways does Dorothy's family push her away?
  4. Is family best defined by the comfort of their presence or the pain of their absence? How does the film display both sides of that equation?

Chew on This

Dorothy's found family (The Scarecrow, Lion and Tin Man) is ultimately more supportive and loving than her real family.

Dorothy's real family is her blood, and means more to her than her found family.

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