“I Think The World Is Like A Great Mirror,…”: A Look At Aunt Jane’s Nieces

“I think the world is like a great mirror, and reflects our lives just as we ourselves look upon it.  Those who turn sad faces toward the world find only sadness reflected.  But a smile is reflected in the same way, and cheers and brightens our hearts.”  So says the crippled girl, Myrtle Dean in Aunt Jane’s Nieces and Uncle John, but it could easily sum up L. Frank Baum’s philosophy of life, and Aunt Jane’s nieces embody that philosophy through their different personalities.  Patricia Doyle, the beloved daughter of Major Doyle, is an impetuous redhead with sparkling eyes, who, although quite poor, takes a positive attitude toward life.  Elizabeth de Graf is an unwanted daughter, who has a cold, untrusting nature, but will try to make the most of any situation.  Louise Merrick is a somewhat shallow, vain, society girl, but displays determination when confronted by obstacles.

Baum had an optimistic view of life even though he suffered from heart disease.  He was a doer and loved to travel and seek adventures as do the nieces and virtually every major female character in Baum’s writing.  He embodied the American philosophy that life gives you the opportunities to make something of yourself, but you must provide the initiative.  Madeleine L’Engle expressed this idea profoundly in A Wrinkle in Time:  “You’re given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself.”  Baum could not have agreed more.

About Robert M. Weiss
From an early age, I've taken great pleasure in reading. Also, I learned to play my 78 player when I was quite young, and enjoyed listening to musicals and classical music. I remember sitting on the floor, and following the text and pictures of record readers, which were popular in the 1940s and 50s. My favorites were the Bozo and Disney albums. I also enjoyed watching the slow spinning of 16s as they spun out tales of adventure. I have always been attracted by rivers, and I love to sit on a boulder with my feet in the water, gazing into the mysteries of swirling currents. I especially like inner tubing on the Rogue River in Southern Oregon. Since my early youth, I've been interested in collecting minerals, which have taught me about the wonderful possibilities in colors and forms. Sometimes I try to imagine what the ancient Greeks must have felt when they began to discover physical laws in nature. I also remember that I had a special passion for numbers, and used to construct them out of stones. After teaching Russian for several years, I became a writer, interviewer, editor, and translator. I continue to delight in form, and am a problem solver at heart.

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