“Like You Could Read What Was Inside of Me”: Genocide, Hermeneutics, and Religion in The Wizard of Oz

  • Author(s): Ken Derry
  • When: 2014-10
  • Where: Journal of Religion and Popular Culture
  • Ten years before he wrote The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum produced two editorials calling for the death of all Native American people. These editorials have affected how both Baum’s novel and its 1939 MGM adaptation are interpreted. For some, the tale is a utopian vision that vindicates its author, while for others it clearly embodies Baum’s genocidal impulses. This essay explores this hermeneutical issue, arguing that The Wizard of Oz—like “religion” itself—can support opposing interpretations because the world it depicts is complex and contradictory.

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