Home to Aunt Em: Sentimental Adoption in L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Criticism of L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz has long failed to acknowledge the importance of Dorothy’s orphanhood. Published in the Winter 2009 issue of Children’s Literature Association Quarterly, this article argues that Baum made his heroine an orphan to support the then-burgeoning movement toward sentimentality and its ensuing concept of sentimental adoption, which embraced the emotional value of children over their potential economic contributions to the family. Baum’s novel was also written in the context of an emerging psychological discussion of child development; by portraying Dorothy as an orphan, Baum provides readers with a metaphoric guide to understand what psychologists now call the adoptee’s journey toward self-integration.

A screenshot of the first page of "Home to Aunt Em: Sentimental Adoption in L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz"

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