I was reading The Marvelous Land of Oz and came across this unusual passage. This unusual statement is made when the Scarecrow, Tip, and Jack are going to flee the Emerald City after the Army of Girls conquers it.

And while the Soldier was gone for the clothesline his Majesty continued, “it is well for me to be careful, for my very existence is in danger.”

“I have to be as careful as you do,” said Jack.

“Not exactly,” replied the Scarecrow. “for if anything happened to me,that would be the end of me. But if anything happened to you, they could use you for seed.”

The Soldier now returned with a long line and tied all three firmly together, also lashing them to the body of the Saw-Horse; so there seemed little danger of their tumbling off.

“Now throw open the gates,” commanded the Scarecrow, “and we will make a dash to liberty or to death.”

What does "seed" mean here? Is it the obvious I am thinking of? Perhaps it has some other meaning I am not aware of. After all, this story was written over a century ago, and some of the jargon used back then is now extinct.

If yes, that would be quite strange indeed, considering this is innocent fairytale book written for children.

  • 1
    The "obvious" being plant ova?
    – Adamant
    Sep 24, 2022 at 22:40
  • 2. a man's semen [archaic] (chiefly in biblical use) a person's offspring or descendants. "as he promised to our forefathers, Abraham and his seed"
    – Mazura
    Sep 27, 2022 at 1:13

2 Answers 2


Jack has a carven pumpkin for a head. However, unlike most jack o' lanterns (which are cleaned out before they are carved), the "guts" of the pumpkin—the pulp and seeds—have not been removed from Jack's head; instead, the seeds and pulp substitute for a brain. So if Jack is killed (rendered no longer animated), he would still have his seeds that could be planted, so that Jack's life would—in a sense—continue on.

The Scarecrow is stuffed with straw, with no seeds. If he is killed, there is nothing to sow to grow anew. That is the difference between the two that the Scarecrow is emphasizing.

  • 1
    Oh, of course I understand now! Actually, I misread that statement that "I have to be careful as you do" was said by the boy Tip, and not Jack Pumpkinhead. So I thought the Scarecrow's statement was addressed to the boy. Now, that's what would be wierd' and in the context of the boy, seed has an entirely different meaning.
    – RedMaw
    Sep 25, 2022 at 3:23
  • 1
    Funny, I didn't notice this before. I even plaved the quotes in the question and edited them twice. LOL. So in a way, this whole question was unnecessary : ) Nevertheless, I appreciate the effort taken by you and the other in answering this question : )
    – RedMaw
    Sep 25, 2022 at 3:37
  • 8
    @Redmaw, please indicate this as the correct answer by clicking on the tick mark.
    – Pete
    Sep 25, 2022 at 13:33

Jack Pumpkinhead is a pumpkin and he has seeds in his head. So, Scarecrow is saying that if anything happened to Jack, they could use his seeds and plant for more pumpkins, whereas Scarecrow is simply full of dry straw and there'd be nothing useful left him if something happened.

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