A Determined Man

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In what ways is the John Henry story a tall-tale? How is it social commentary? Is it primarily a story about technology, or about race? Is it too simplistic to say "both"?


Of course John Henry is a tall tale. No one really knows who the "real" John Henry was. There are only really theories about his story and man people interpret his story many different ways. Also, some of the events in the John Henry story seem to be exaggerated, like hammering yourself to death. Although it could happen, the way it's said makes it seem bigger than it actually is.

As a social commentary? Well I'm not so sure. I guess it does have something to say about what was happening at the time with technology and the work force, but I don't think that is the first idea that came across with just a glance. I don't think it says necessarily something about society, but more a hard working individual.

I had read the story of John Henry before and I didn't know it had anything to do with race until it was mentioned the the NPR reading. So in my opinion, to say it's primarily about race isn't quite true for me. Again, what I really got from the story was the development of tehnology and the work ethic of a determined and hard-working person. I'm not quite sure how race fits into the whole picture.

http://jerz.setonhill.edu/EL266/2009/11/traditional_joh/#comments

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