Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Bound for Glory is an epic story of a man in search of his home, and, like most other epics, it begins in medias res Woody Guthrie describes a wild ride in a rail-road boxcar with more than sixty other homeless, jobless men of every age, race, and economic background. Tensions were high and fights broke out, so Guthrie climbed atop the railroad car to escape the confusion. A thunderstorm began, however, and other tramps wrapped their shirts around Guthrie’s guitar to protect it from the rain, silently indicating their understanding of the music that spiritually sustained them in their troubles. Guthrie wonders about the men who were around him that night and how they came to be there; then he tries to remember how he himself came to be there and returns in memory to his childhood.

Woody Guthrie (named by his father after Woodrow Wilson, who won the presidency the year that Woody was born) grew up in the small town of Okemah, Oklahoma, as the son of a prosperous businessman. Shortly after Guthrie’s birth, a series of catastrophes reminiscent of Greek tragedy struck the Guthrie household, causing its economic decline, shattering the family, and propelling him into his life as roving minstrel. The family’s fine new home burned down; their next house was wrecked by a tornado; several of father Charlie Guthrie’s business deals went sour; Woody’s sister Clara died in a fire; a relative who was to have saved the family died in an...

(The entire section is 595 words.)