Nathan (vovat) wrote,

I Fall to Pieces

One of several small Ozian communities that Dorothy and her companions visit during the course of The Emerald City of Oz is the Quadling town of Fuddlecumjig. I remember writing this on a list of Ozian places while in high school, and some of my classmates found it amusing, presumably because of the "cum" part. Of course, the dirty meaning for "cum" is pretty recent, at least as far as I know. In Baum's time, it seems to have just been a nonsense syllable. Anyway, Fuddlecumjig is home to the Fuddles, who are essentially living jigsaw puzzles. They fall apart at the slightest provocation, and have to be put back together. Fortunately, Fuddlecumjig has become somewhat of a tourist attraction, with people from all over Oz showing up to reassemble the Fuddles.

The town leader of Fuddlecumjig is Larry, the Lord High Chigglewitz, a bald man who walks with a limp because a piece of his knee was never found. Another important Fuddle is Grandmother Gnit, an old lady who spends much of her time knitting mittens for a kangaroo who lives just outside town. You might wonder why a kangaroo would need mittens, but she insists that without them her hands would get sunburned, and she'd catch cold. March Laumer makes this kangaroo in a more developed character in his Careless Kangaroo, naming her Marguerite Supial (Mar for short) and giving her several children. As for Grandmother Gnit herself, Jim Vander Noot's short story "Button-Bright and the Knit-Wits of Oz" has the boy meeting Grandpa Gnit, who explains that he and his wife were rulers of the knitting-based Quadling community known as Knit-Wits until she started falling to pieces and had to be sent away. This is an interesting idea, as it suggests that ordinary Ozites can occasionally turn into Fuddles. So is Fuddlecumjig like a fairyland leper colony? Well, maybe in some ways, but I don't know that Fuddlism is contagious.

I'm sure the arbiters of good taste will be glad that there's no indication that people have to assemble the Fuddles' internal organs, just their outsides. So are they hollow inside? That isn't what I think Baum indicates, as the Fuddles do eat. All I can figure is that, when their outsides are reassembled, the insides follow suit. Careless Kangaroo seems to support this, as when Grandmother Gnit loses her topknot, part of her brain goes along with it.
Tags: books, characters, oz
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