Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 12: No 2) >> Folk and Fairy Tale Elements in Guy Rivers >> Page 10

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Secondary Scholarship | 2004
Transcription by New England, the West, and even the South. The emphasis on the finagling,
calculating merchant (strangely analogous to the stereotype of the Jew) obscured
origins that were complex and variegated."4 The Yankee became a comic figure
because of his shrewdness and his desire to maximize his profits in any situation,
and by any means, including cheating.
In Guy Rivers, we are introduced to Jared Bunce at his trial. He is a
peddler who has sold faulty products to the people on the frontier, and they are
angry with him, testifying firmly against him:
I say boys --`tisn't of any use, 1 reckon, for everybody to speak about what
everybody knows. One speaker's quite enough on this here matter before us.
Here's none of us that ha'n't something to say agin this peddler, and the doings
of the grand scoundrel in and about these parts, for a matter going on now about
three years. Why, everybody knows him, big and little; and his reputation is so
now, that the very boys take his name to frighten away the crows with.5
Bunce is a loner and an alien in a strange land. The people of Chestatee gang up
against him in order to take revenge on him for being conniving and for cheating
people out of their money. Everyone knows that he deserves to be punished. He
is a lover of money over all things; and when the people decide to burn up his
goods, he mourns the loss of his possessions: "Our peddler, though he no longer
strove to interfere, was by no means insensible to the ruin of his stock in trade ...
the big tears were slowly gathering in his eyes, and falling down his bronzed and
furrowed cheeks. The rough, hard, unscrupulous man can always weep for
himself."6 Despite his losing everything he has, he still wins in the end, following
archetypal Yankee shrewdness.
The chapter following Bunce's trial is entitled "The Yankee Outwits the
Lawyer." He sidesteps Pippin, the lawyer, by stealing his horse through the
pretense of a "trade." Bunce sends a note to Pippin saying that he has ridden away
on Pippin's horse and left his own for the lawyer. Bunce will send him a bill for
the horse, buggy, and all of his possessions that were destroyed in the fire. The
story follows that Pippin "leaped about the hall ... denouncing the peddler," that
"the trick of the runaway almost gave him a degree of favor in [the people's]
eyes," and that they enjoyed the scene even more when Pippin "encountered a new
trial in the horse left him by the peddler; the miserable beast being completely
ruined, unable to move a step, and more dead than alive."7 Despite the Yankee's
being shrewd and calculating, he has endearing qualities: "The Yankee's major
virtue was adaptability, his main accomplishment the creation of a subtle

4 Bluestein, p. 67.
S Simms, William Gilmore, Guy Rivers: A Tale of Georgia (New York: AMS Press, 1970), p. 73.
6 Ibid., p. 86.
7 Ibid., pp. 97, 98.