How Do You Sculpt A Legend?

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"No one could possibly agree on what he looked like.  He was everyman...The artist who made this statue had a big job" (262).

How do you sculpt a legend?  Pamela explains the difficulty of the artists job perfectly on page 262 (I didn't want to type the whole page).  Should he look like a man, struggling during a hard days work?  Should he have beads of sweat running down his head, strain in his muscles from the work, and a far off look in his eyes -- like he can't wait to be off the clock to go home to his wife?  

Or perhaps, John Henry is larger than a man.  The artist could depict the Hercules-like warrior who is made of muscle and strength.  He wants to be pounding away on the railroad; he never thinks about going home, eating dinner, crawling into bed with sweet Polly Ann so they can listen to the crickets at night and dream about a better, less impoverished life for their future children.  He is larger than life, other men shutter when he walks by them.  Trees shake, his hammer is too big for others to hold.  

Who is John Henry, and how do you sculpt the legend and the man?  Which is more important for others to remember?  Who do people need to remember?  I think the scholar and the artist would have been able to sit down to have a nice chat together while they pondered this question.  

What do you all think?  Who is John Henry to you?  Is this a story you'll pass onto your children, or do you think it's a little insulting to encourage muscle mass over brains when it comes to accepting defeat?  Do you believe that John Henry beat the machine, or is it obvious that the machine beat Henry because he died with his hammer in his hand?  Yes, I believe the artist had a very big job.   


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