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Lion of Oz and the Badge of Courage

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Lion of Oz and the Badge of Courage is a children's book written by Roger S. Baum, great-grandson of the author of the original Oz series, L. Frank Baum. It was first published in 1995 by Yellow Brick Road Press (ISBN 096301014X).

The Lion and Oscar both work in the circus, but when they go for a ride in Oscar's hot-air balloon, they find themselves in Oz. But the Lion falls out of the balloon and is separated from his friend. Once in Oz he finds that he can talk and soon meets up with the Wicked Witch of the East. The witch sends Lion on a journey to find the Flower of Oz, the source of all things good in the land. On his way he meets a mysterious girl who is accompanied by animated toys, and they set off together to find the Flower of Oz. On the way they come to many adventures, an evil seamstress who's working for the Wicked Witch of the East, mini munchkins, and The Wizard of Oz himself. But if Lion doesn't find the flower in time, he will lose his badge of courage to the witch.

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This is a story about a young man named Henry who wants to fight for the Union in the Civil War. He leaves his mother behind and finds himself in a company of friends and strangers. This group of soldiers does a lot of training and marching, but initially doesn't really see a lot of action. At most, they've seen battles in the distance and have seen the wounded in passing. Henry is nervous about actually fighting and is ashamed that he feels that way. However, after he talks to some of the other soldiers, he realizes that many of them are also nervous. The company finally gets their big break and they are assigned to hold a line against the Confederates. They survive the initial charge and cheer at their first small victory as a group. However, in the second Confederate charge, Henry gets overwhelmed and begins to run away. He runs so far that he is driven to the general giving orders at the back lines. Apparently, they held the line and it was a victory. Feeling ashamed that he ran away, Henry walks around the battlefield for a while. He finds that one of his friends is dying and watches him as he takes his last breath. He also gets hit in the head when he tries to talk to a group of passing soldiers. He eventually meets up with his old company and they greet him because they thought he was dead. The doctor treats Henry's head wound and he gets a good night's rest. In the morning, the men feel good and are volunteered to charge the Confederate line, in which not many will survive. Henry, feeling cowardly, suddenly gains courage and leads the charge, picking up the Union flag. They celebrate the victory. However, after the fight, Henry realizes that they only charged a very short distance, even though it had felt like hundreds of yards. Some of the officers see Henry's heroics and commemorate him as being brave. They charge the Confederate lines a couple more times, accumulating more casualties and wounded. In the end, Henry becomes a true veteran. The author purposely uses ambiguity in references to the Civil War, which is both beneficial and detrimental. By not providing the specific name of the battlefield, we get a sense that this battle is everywhere and all-encompassing. From the description of the vastness of the battlefield, the fighting seems to be going on in all directions, adding to the sizable scope of this war. However, it also creates a disconnect to the history of the Civil War and loses a lot of what could strengthen it to make it more of historical fiction. Granted, this story was written and published quite some time ago, but in contemporary times, after we have a general understanding of the Civil War, the ambiguity can make readers wonder, "Where exactly does this fit in to my understanding of the Civil War?" The changes that Henry goes through make this story a coming of age story. He enters the army as a young man and, after several battles, leaves a real man. Before he sees his first action, we see him battling with feelings of insecurity and cowardice. But it's interesting to note that once he gets a good taste of battle, he almost seems to be battling emotions of vigor and over-ambition, like he has to hold himself back from charging the enemy by himself. So what is the red badge of courage? The badge is obviously symbolic, but it turns out that the badge is red because of the men's blood. It's similar to dirty vs. clean football uniforms. The more dirty the uniform, the more that player has played. The guys with the clean uniforms are usually the guys just watching. When Henry returns to the battlefield after running away, he sees all of the wounded and wishes that he too could have been wounded, as it would have shown a sign of courage for staying in the fight. And by the end, after his courageous charge and wounds, he earns his own red badge of courage.

Prior to 'The Wizard of Oz'

After landing in the land of Oz, Lion in Oz depicts the Lion on a quest to reunite with his friend, the Wizard of Oz. For the duration of the quest, the Lion has a Badge of Courage which makes him exceedingly brave. As he travels across the land, he finds himself repeatedly threatened and manipulated by the Wicked Witch of the East.

At the end of this story, he befriends the Flower of Oz, a seemingly great magical power that the witch seeks; Together the two defeat the Witch. However, the Lion's Badge of Courage is broken in the process and he becomes cowardly. In shame, he leaves his friends and takes off on his own through the forests, where he eventually meets Dorothy, the Tin Man, and the Scarecrow.

The Lion travels with Dorothy, the Tin Woodman, the Scarecrow, and Toto on the yellow brick road on their journey to see the Wizard of Oz. He tells his new companions that he is cowardly and wishes to see the wizard to regain his courage.

However, during the course of the book, the Cowardly Lion seems to be the bravest member of the party, showing a willingness to stand by and defend his friends even if it involves certain death. When the group reaches the Emerald City at the end of the book, the Wizard gives the Lion a placebo Badge of Courage which makes him believe he has regained his courageous nature.

It has been made into a film titled simply Lion of Oz.

This page was last edited on 29 September 2018, at 14:10
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