The Road to Oz, Book Five of the Oz Series

The standout character is the shaggy man. He has a frightening appearance, is introduced abducting Toto, and lies about his past and motives. Despite his initial menace, the shaggy man is kind, probably more so than Dorothy. Consider how the shaggy man responds to the Queen Scoodler asking if she is beautiful:

“You won’t be at all beautiful if you eat me,” he said, shaking his head sadly. “Handsome is as handsome does, you know.”

Whereas Dorothy tells her, “I think you’re a fright” (118).

That the shaggy man is an almost complete embodiment of good who protects the three children he ends up with also interacts interestingly with his social status. Few people are more hated in the US than the homeless (many still talk about them with exterminationist language, whereas most conservatives nowadays know well enough to pretend they don’t feel the same about other vulnerable groups of people—this parenthetical may prove outdated very soon). While Baum would never go so far as to (scandalous) put a Black person in his Oz novels, it is notable that here children might be shown a sympathetic version of man in a commonly despised class.

However, the shaggy man also embodies a romanticized version of homelessness. He always whistles cheerfully and does not seem to struggle for survival. It is not explicit that he is a tramp. The narration implies it: “the shaggy man had no home, perhaps, and was as happy in one place as in another” (34). Later, it is made clearer: “this shaggy man of ours had slept more in hay-lofts and stables than in comfortable rooms” (196). Furthermore, the shaggy man’s economic deprivation is not entirely a social failure but is a choice, a reflection of his personal values. Early on, he tells Dorothy he does not actually want the fifteen cents the man in Butterfield owes him. “I don’t want money, my dear,” he tells Dorothy. The shaggy man explains: “Money makes people proud and haughty; I don’t want to be proud and haughty. All I want is to have people love me” (23–24). He admits that he only asked Dorothy to show him to Butterfield because he wanted to be around her so that she might love him, which is a bit creepy.

This, my dear, is the wonderful Love Magnet.

The unethical method through which the shaggy man contrives to make people love him is the Love Magnet, “a bit of metal shaped like a horseshoe” that is “dull and brown, and not very pretty” (24). The shaggy man keeps it in one of his many pockets and lies to Dorothy that he received it from an Inuit (though the shaggy man uses a somewhat less accepted term) in the “Sandwich Islands,” an old-fashioned, colonialist name for Hawaii. The Love Magnet is a talisman that causes “every living thing” (24) who meets its owner to love him. Throughout the journey to Oz, the Love Magnet seems to guarantee trust and good treatment, although the form of love is not always beneficial. King Dox thinks he performs an act of love by transforming Button-Bright’s head into that of a fox, and King Kik-a-bray feels the same when he transforms the shaggy man’s head into that of a donkey.