Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Paul Bunyan

Paul Bunyan, the gigantic hero of exaggerated yarns first told along the Canadian border about 1837. Bunyan first saw Babe, the Blue Ox, the winter the blue snow fell. Together, they set up a lumber camp. Bunyan invents the multiplication table, the cube root system, and algebra so that he can keep the records until he meets Johnny Inkslinger and makes him his bookkeeper. When ordinary logging methods fail, he shoots the trees off the slopes of the Mountain That Stood On Its Head. He sweats so hard cutting the stonewood trees in Utah that he creates Salt Lake. With the coming of machinery, however, there is no place for him, and he and Babe disappear forever over the hills.


Babe, a huge Blue Ox, brought up by Bunyan from a calf. When whale milk will not cure his illness, whiskey does the trick.


Niagara, Paul’s moosehound.

Hels Helsen

Hels Helsen, a giant who fights a savage battle with Bunyan and then becomes his friend for life.

Johnny Inkslinger

Johnny Inkslinger, who loses his job as surveyor when Bunyan cuts down the trees he uses for stakes. He then becomes the camp bookkeeper.

Sourdough Sam

Sourdough Sam, the camp cook, who loses an arm and a leg when some sourdough, put into Johnny’s ink, explodes.

Hot Biscuit Slim

Hot Biscuit Slim, Sam’s son and successor, who makes meals the high point of a logger’s day.

Shanty Boy

Shanty Boy, whose tall stories amuse the loggers until he tells them of Jonah and the whale; then he is beaten for lying.

King Bourbon

King Bourbon, of Kansas. He is overcome by a rebellious duke who gets everybody drunk. Bunyan hitches Babe to Kansas and turns it upside down to quiet things, leaving Kansas flat and rid of cigarette grass, beervines, and whiskey trees.