Thursday, March 11, 2010

To to (for To)

According to one socio-economic reading of the classic children's tale The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the story is a parable about the politics of the 1890s, particularly the debate over monetary policy and bimetallism. The "Yellow Brick Road" represents the gold standard, while the silver slippers suggest the "sixteen to one silver ratio." (Their color was changed to ruby in the movie, perhaps to stand out more in the colorful world of Oz.) The Wicked Witches of the East and West would be the local banks and railroads. The Scarecrow stands for the farmers of the Populist Party; the Tin Woodman evokes the industrialized factory workers of the North; and the Cowardly Lion is either William Jennings Bryan or the investors on Wall Street. The Munchkins are akin to the common people and the Emerald City symbolizes "Washington and its green-paper money delusion." Even Dorothy's dousing of the Wicked Witch of the West alludes to the drought that was plaguing the country at that time. And lastly, you may be wondering, does all of this exegesis include "Toto too?" Yes, indeed. It's a reference to the word teetotaler: one who abstains from alcohol and most likely would have favored Prohibition. There are 262 hits in OhioLINK on To to, some of which are not typos (foreign language titles and cases where the two words are properly adjacent, such as Introduction to To Kill a Mockingbird; A Concordance to To the Lighthouse; and other grammatically correct phrases), although many of them are.

(Illustration by W.W. Denslow, from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, 1900, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

No comments: