The Mount Rushmore Story Critical Essays

Judith St. George


(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

The great majority of St. George’s book chronicles the events that occurred once Borglum had decided on that particular granite mountainside in the Black Hills of South Dakota for his expansive sculpture, his tribute to American ideals. Despite his opinionated and temperamental nature, Borglum is of interest to young readers because he subscribed to the optimist’s view that anything is possible in the United States. Borglum’s vision was, in many ways, larger than life; his tenacity, which made the vision a reality, serves as a colorful model of the value of believing in oneself.

When discussing Borglum’s tempestuous personality, St. George attempts to provide a balanced presentation of the artist, so she cannot avoid documenting his difficult relationships with significant and powerful people. St. George suggests that Borglum was able to behave cordially when around Doane Robinson, Peter Norbeck, Calvin Coolidge, and John Boland as long as they worked with him on his own terms, which generally meant little or no interference. If someone else’s plans ran contrary to his own, Borglum was uncompromising. Readers learn about the intense frustration produced in notables who worked with the artist.

Yet St. George does sympathize with Borglum. Although the sculptor was employed from 1925 to 1941, less than seven years were actually spent actively working on the four faces because the great vision required enormous amounts of money, a commodity that Borglum found to be tangibly scarce. His resulting frustration informed much of the controversy that he caused throughout the entire project. Nevertheless, he was not...

(The entire section is 670 words.)