A John Henry Poem Comparison

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The John Henry Folk version and Prison and Chain Gang version of the poem differ in extension of details of the John Henry story as the order of events happening in the legend. The folk version details John Henry before his hammering accident. It showed what kind of person he was by singing and whistling while he was working. The Prison version  just started into his hammering accident. The Folk version also talks about his wife a lot more and how she would live once John Henry died. While the Prison version said that he did not have a dime, the Folk version states that John Henry had saved money in the bank so he could buy a home for his wife.  Another detail the Folk version adds is that John Henry's death spread to all the women and even to his mother who did not know he was dead. John Henry was then taken to the White House at the end of the poem where as locomotives passed by, it says "there lays that steel drivin' man." The Prison version tells the story of how John Henry died in a similar way, but the beginning and end are different from the Folk version. At the beginning of the Prison version, we find that John Henry's father tells him he will be a steel driving man and the ending is John Henry saying "Lord, I've hammered my insides in two."

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