Confusion on Tall Tales
John Henry is very much a tall-tale. The story is based on one or more real men, and it is a very extravagant tale.
I don't really see the story as a social commentary... people tell stories all the time. I don't really see it as something standing against society.
I don't think it's too simplistic to say it's about both technology and race. While I don't see the basis of the story being about race, I can easily see the technology aspect since it is talking about different methods of building.
This is very much like the DuBois readings for me... I may be the only person who had not heard of John Henry until reading this; regardless it is yet another thing I do not fully understand.