An Exaggerated Truth to Motivate New Recruits

Logging Camp in Wisconsin

Logging camp in Wisconsin | Google images

Imagine you are living in Wisconsin during the 1880’s, looking for job as a lumberjack in EXTREME cold working conditions. You are young, inexperienced, and you’re a teenager! According the the Wisconsin Historical society, this is one of the reason why Paul Bunyan took root to become what he is today. So, who was Paul Bunyan really?

The experienced lumberjacks in these regions told stories of a man who was a “powerful giant, 7 feet tall and with a stride of 7 feet. He was famous throughout the lumbering districts for his great physical strength. So great was his lung capacity that he called his men to dinner by blowing through a hollow tree; when he spoke, limbs sometimes fell from trees.” (www.wisconsinhistory.org)

Wisconsin. U.S.A. Map

Wisconsin State, United States | Google images

In the 1920’s, Charles E. Brown collected tales about Bunyan directly from Wisconsin loggers. These loggers mention how their EXAGGERATED stories tested the young RECRUITS.

“Some of the stories were also intended to intimidate the novice loggers, most of whom were teenagers fresh from the farm or the city, by exaggerating the dangers of extreme winter conditions or mythical forest beasts. Occasionally Bunyan stories were also told simply for fun, as loggers competed with one another in creative lying contests.” (www.wisconsinhistory.org)

What started as simple story telling of a hardworking lumberjack, has passed down through oral tradition to become Paul Bunyan, an American folk hero.

(Paul Bunyan. Walt Disney. 1958 | YouTube)

LEARN MORE: AMERICAN FOLKLORE – PAUL BUNYAN

LEARN MORE: WHAT IS FOLKLORE?

  • How do you believe these stories would motivate young novice lumberjacks?
  • What is folklore or a folktale?


Categories: History

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8 replies

  1. 1) A folklore is a myth, tale, and a legend. Like make things up but tells the truth of something real but in the story they but an exaggerate part.

    2) Stories like Paul Bunyan were made so you can try to be like them and work harder to be hero like them. Also, to inform, learn imaginate. That give examples of what people can accomplish.

  2. 1) A folklore is a story that is over exaggerated and it was never written down, it was told. It is also a myth or a legend.

    2) Stories like Paul Bunyan were told to motivate and entertain. And when people hear the story they’ll try to be like them and work harder.

  3. 1. A folklore is an exaggerated story like a myth or a legend.That is told by mouth and not by writing.

    2. Stories like Paul Bunyan were made to inform,to make them work harder because they want to be like the large person in the story.Also to entertain and to motivate.

  4. 1) A folklore is an exaggerated story that is told by mouth not by hand.They are legends and myths.

    2) Stories like paul bunyan were made to motivate, entertain and inspire.It helps young lumberjacks to be like the story that your telling.

  5. 1) A folklore is a myth or a legend that is exaggerated. It has been said by mouth but not written by hand. It means folklore are legends, stories, or myths that were never wrote but it was told.

    2) Stories like Paul Bunyan wanted to inspire, entertain, inform, motivate,make them believe, show courage,and etc that means that they want the lumberjacks to work hard and be brave.

  6. My dad and my grandpa went axing down my tree in the back yard. After it was done, I felt like a lumber jack.

  7. Everyone needs a hero or someone to look up to, especially when working under such cruel working conditions. The stories of Paul Bunyan, although intimidating to young novice recruits, gave new recruits and other loggers hope that working under those conditions could reap rewards with just a little muscle and what may well have been back breaking work. From fear comes courage and great strength. If these stories were intimidating at first they were surely meant to motivate as well. Before the great era of comics and superheros we had tales of great people and great works to drive us.