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)
“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?