Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

In Chanticleer of Wilderness Road: A Story of Davy Crockett, Meridel Le Sueur creates a fictionalized account of the legendary hero. Using the form and dialect of the tall tale, the author combines fact and fiction to paint a picture of Crockett as hunter, politician, and fighter.

Composed of four parts, which are divided into chapters, Chanticleer of Wilderness Road is told as a story. Le Sueur’s book recalls the life and adventures of Crockett through the words of the narrator’s grandmother, who recounts her own memories of Crockett and legends about him. She is the first to call him “the Chanticleer of the Settlement, a ring-tailed roarer.” The episodes of his life are related in moving narrative and lively dialogue and retain the freshness of many of Crockett’s own words. The lilting fragments of songs scattered throughout the book add to the tempo of the tale.

As Crockett’s early life unfolds, the reader catches a glimpse of the adventurous nature that became the embodiment of the American frontier. The reader feels the tug of the unsettled mountains and gaps that lured young Crockett to join the rough and rowdy wagoners rolling westward along the Wilderness Road. It is then that he learns to outgrin a raccoon, to tie a knot in a panther’s tail, and to invent stories about things that did not actually happen.

Le Sueur skillfully weaves these myths and legends around Crockett’s kinship with the...

(The entire section is 468 words.)