Paul Bunyan

In the story of Paul Bunyan Taming the Whistling River, he’s quite an interesting character. The language in the text is to show the commanding figures of Paul Bunyan and Babe. It is also to show the pure power and tenacity that Paul and Babe were famous for. The quote “Yelling to the men to stand clear, he shouted at Babe to pull. Babe pulled that chain into a solid bar and sank knee deep into solid rock, but that ornery river refused to budge. So Paul grabbed the chain and he and Babe gave such a yank that the river jerked loose from its banks and they dragged it across the prairie so fast it smoked.” shows that both Paul and Babe contained enormous amounts of strength. Another quote further supports this claim. The quote is: “So Paul got his big cross-cut saw and a lot of baling wire and sawed the extra lengths of river into nine-mile pieces, rolled them up and tied them off with the baling wire. He later used them to float his logs when he logged out the desert.” This type of language helps evoke an image of pure strength and the ability to do anything you set your mind to, which is what most of the Paul Bunyan and Babe’s stories are centered on.

Paul and Babe are represented as larger than life characters in the story. This is portrayed by working, eating, or sleeping in extreme amounts. These extreme proportions help show that Paul and Babe have to deal with them since they’re known to be hundreds of feet tall and thus need to eat, sleep, and work in big sizes. The fact that Paul combs his beard with a pine tree and eats popcorn enough to cover the ground with 18 inches of kernels for three square miles, causing the animals to think it was a blizzard and thus froze to death. These examples show that Paul and Babe were literally “larger than life.”

I would say that Paul and Babe obviously represent strength. The story is trying to convey that tall tales such as Paul and Babe are able to perform these great feats of strength because of their size. But not only does their size play a factor, but also their tenacity. Because they’re such hard workers and can put their minds to anything, they push themselves to complete the tasks at hand. In this story for example, that story would be to “tame” the Whistling River.



One thought on “Paul Bunyan

  1. This is a good analysis. You do a good job of including quotes that really show your reader what you are talking about. I think you could give your reader just a little bit more context about where this story is coming from. Also, I think that your connections could go further here. What is it about this story of size and strength that’s captured the American psyche and made the tale famous? Is it still relevant today?


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