Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 12: No 2) >> Folk and Fairy Tale Elements in Guy Rivers >> Page 11

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Secondary Scholarship | 2004
Transcription humor."8 Bunce is one of the more lively, humorous characters in Guy Rivers,
and he is far more likeable than the hero, Ralph Colleton. By the end of the novel
Bence helps to save Colleton from Guy Rivers. Bunce perfectly fit's the
archetypal description of the shrewd, calculating, yet comic Yankee.
The character of the backwoodsman is also prominent in American
folklore, found in the examples of Davy Crockett, Mike Fink, and Ben Hardin.
The peaceful climate of America after the Revolutionary War triggered a
movement into wilder parts of the region: "Peace in 1783 had triggered a vast
popular migration out of the settled parts of the United States into the pockets oF
wilderness remaining in the thirteen original states ... No longer bound by royal
decree to remain east of the Appalachians, families rumbled over the mountains in
their heavy wagons."9 The political conflicts of the Revolutionary War, the War
of 1812, and the constant violence between Native American and settlers caused a
need in the hearts of the people for heroes to fuel their imaginations. For the
backwoodsman, "Strength was his obsession --size, scale, power: he seemed
obliged to shout their symbols as if after all he were not wholly secure in their
possession."10 Mark Forrester is a frontiersman, strong and capable of living on
his own and rescuing others, while he is also friendly and welcoming to those who
are new to the frontier. He rescues Ralph Colleton after Guy Rivers wounds him
and teaches him a little about living on the frontier. Simms's description of
Forrester characterizes him as a typical backwoodsman:
With the possession of a giant's powers, he was seldom so far borne forward by
his impulses, whether of pride or of passion, as to permit of their wanton or
improper use. His eye, too, had a not unpleasing twinkle, promising more of
good-fellowship and a heart at ease than may ever consort with the jaundiced or
distempered spirit. His garb indicated, in part, and was well adapted to the
pursuits of the hunter and the labors of the woodman ... In a belt, made of
buckskin, which encircled his middle, was stuck, in a sheath of the same
material, a small axe, such as, among the Indians, was well known to the early
settlers as a deadly implement of war ... A thong of ox-hide, slung over his
shoulder, supported easily a light rifle of the choicest bore.11
The backwoodsman himself was "`a new beast' spawned by the rivers and forests
of the West."12 Forrester is a giant man with a twinkle in his eye, a light heart,
and a fox-skin cap; he is reminiscent of the huntsmen who rescue Snow White
and Red-Riding Hood, but his frontier qualities make him distinctly American.
While Forrester is physically strong, his intellect leaves something to be desired


8 Bluestein, p. 69.
9 Appleby, p. 15-
10 Bluestein, p. 70.
11 Simms, pp. 59, 60.
12 Bluestein, p. 70.



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