Blue Ridge Folklore or Folklife Reaction Paper

Excerpt from Reaction Paper :

They virtually turned these stories into tales about Blue Ridge and their ancestors. Some stories have been told as rumors or legends and this influenced people in having difficulty understanding whether they were real or not. Many people in Blue Ridge are likely to believe that Jack tales are a hallmark when taking into account the area's history and the general character of people that lived there through the ages.

Many families of storytellers at Blue Ridge have inherited tales through time and have been encouraged to continue to retell these respective stories using elements that they think would improve the storylines. The fact that individuals in the area came from diverse backgrounds made it possible for the region to have a unique influence on individuals living in the area.

For example, Donald Davis inherited a series of stories that were different from everything else presented in the U.S. because of the Celtic elements that have shaped it through time. People at Blue Ridge are not only successful because they managed to keep traditions, as they are also impressive because of the fact that they inherited story-telling abilities from their ancestors. Donald's "reflective involvement in the process of story performance, memory, and creativity could bring forth essential insights into his tale-telling tradition" (Davis 17).

A great deal of individuals believe that it is wrong for tales to be modified, but they are unable to understand that these modifications are very important and that they are basically responsible for keeping a community's culture alive. Blue Ridge tales are presently with even more attention as a result of the fact that technology has experienced great progress. "The ideal of a folklore text expanded to encompass a more and more minute representation of the storyteller's style" (Davis 18). A storyteller needs to identify with his background and needs to see the tales that he tells from the perspective of an individual who actually understands them. Present-day folklorists need to employ a series of attitudes in dealing with stories and they need to be very well familiarized with their setting in order to be able to tell them properly. This is an essential concept in message-sending process and needs to be addressed by any storyteller who wants to have an intense effect on his or her audience.

In spite of the fact that the people at Blue Ridge are simple, it is not very simple to write in regard to them or their customs because of the diverse culture in the area. Folklore is particularly important in the territory and through the use of Jack tales people came to get actively involved in making history. While stories generally seem to be childish, Jack stories told in Blue Ridge actually manage to contribute to making history, considering that storytellers introduced real-life events in some of these tales. Cultural values in Blue Ridge stay with the community because people in the area acknowledge their importance and feel that it is essential for them to preserve their past. As a consequence they retell these stories and introduce ideas that they believe to characterize life in Blue Ridge. This makes it possible for readers and listeners to understand that these are not just stories and that they are a piece of Blue Ridge cultural life (Bernard McCarthy 59).

One can interpret some the Jack tales told in Blue Ridge in a series of ways, even with the fact that they generally seem to be directed at an underage audience. Some stories contain complex messages that are meant to provide readers with moral concepts and that are likely to induce strong feelings in some individuals. These tales are not only successful because of their ability to entertain people, as they can also be effective in providing them with historic events that have happened in Blue Ridge through the years. One of the best methods of understanding such a story would be to listen to it told by an individual who was born in an old family in Blue Ridge. His or her experience in listening and telling stories along with his or her family's background makes it possible for the respective individual to introduce actual feelings in telling the story. It is basically as if someone tells a story regarding an event that he or she experienced from a firsthand perspective.

By being certain that he or she addresses the correct concepts through telling a story, an individual is more likely to experience positive results in this process. His or her audience is also more probable to understand the exact messages that the storyteller wants to convey. While it is very difficult to provide an overview of Blue Ridge cultural values, simply getting actively involved in studying people by focusing on their stories is enough to provide a deeper understanding of the location. Cultural values are effectively presented through Jack tales that have been told through time. People realized that they could use these stories with the purpose of relating to their own history and started to concentrate on storytelling as a means to express traditions.

Ted Olson's book manages to put across most important elements in the lives of people at Blue Ridge and demonstrates that something as simple as a Jack tale can have a strong influence on individuals. One cannot tell it similar to how he or she tells any other story, as he or she needs to be a part of the story and needs to have listeners feel that they too are engaged in the process. By doing this the storyteller and the listeners connect and are enabled to contribute to making history, considering that listeners can influence the person telling the story to revise his version of the tale in accordance with new information that he or she receives.

Jack tales are an important concept in the South and in Blue Ridge in particular. These stories have been used as a tool to preserve the community's history and have encouraged people in the area to be unhesitant about inventing a story themselves. It is thus essential for listeners and storytellers to be well-acquainted with the purpose of a Jack tale in order for them to make the storytelling process more effective.


Bernard McCarthy, William, "Jack in Two Worlds: Contemporary North American Tales and Their Tellers," (UNC Press Books, 1994)

Chase, Richard, "The Jack Tales," (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2003)

Davis, Donald, "Southern Jack Tales," (august house, 1997)

McNeil, W.K. "Appalachian Images in Folk and Popular Culture," (Univ. Of Tennessee Press, 1995)

Olson, Ted, "Blue Ridge Folklife," (Univ. Press of Mississippi, 1998)

Pavesic, Christine, "Ray Hicks and the Jack Tales: A Study of Appalachian History, Culture, and Philosophy," (iUniverse, 2005)

Turner, Patricia a. "Univ. Of Tennessee Press, 1995," (University of California Press, 1994)

"An appreciation of the rich and distinctive folklife in one of the earliest settled regions in southern Appalachia," Retrieved April 12, 2012, from the University Press of Mississippi Website:

"Orville Hicks," Retrieved April 12,…

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"Blue Ridge Folklore Or Folklife" (2012, April 12) Retrieved January 16, 2018, from

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