The True Adventures of Grizzly Adams Critical Essays

Robert M. McClung


(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

In The True Adventures of Grizzly Adams, McClung effectively sifts through fact and legend to depict a life-sized individual whose love of nature and animals led him to some very unique experiences. The Adams of McClung’s biography did not seek renown and only barely sought fortune. Rather, he was a man driven by inner strength and deeply felt longings. He was a fearless individual who deplored cowardice in others. Adams loved nature and animals but did not sentimentalize them; he saw nature for the ruthless system that it often is, and he accepted an active role in it according to its own clearly set rules. He had no illusions about the risks that he took in hunting and taming some of the largest and wildest animals on the North American continent. Adams treated all of his animals with the respect that he gave fellow humans, a respect that was often unreciprocated. McClung recounts Adams’ close encounters with death and the many seemingly fatal wounds that he endured. Adams’ stamina and physical fortitude ultimately seem to emanate from his rough but firm spirituality.

McClung does not glorify Adams. He attributes to Adams an occasional and se-vere misanthropy, a dislike of humankind so strong that it inspires him to escape civilization completely. The author repeatedly mentions Adams’ penchant for practical jokes; often, they were harmless, but it is clear that Adams just as often overshot the limits of taste and consideration for his peers. Adams is portrayed as a poor businessperson and as a family man who had no difficulty...

(The entire section is 638 words.)