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“Fucking Johnny Appleseed, always going on about Paul Bunyan. In real life Chapman owned fourteen apple orchards. He farmed thousands of acres. Yes, he kept pace with the western frontier, but there’s not a story out there about him with a word of truth in it, save that he went a little crazy once. But it doesn’t matter. Like the newspapers used to say, if the truth isn’t big enough, you print the legend. This country needs its legends. And even the legends don’t believe it anymore.”

– Mr. Wednesday in Chapter Twelve

John Chapman, also called Apple Johnny or Johnny Appleseed is one of the culture heroes of American history who Shadow first encounters when he and Wednesday escape Mr. Town by going Backstage.

Significance in narrative[]

Chapter Twelve[]

Wednesday and Shadow arrive at Whiskey Jack's mobile home after leaving Backstage and encounter Whiskey Jack and John Chapman. They eat dinner while they discuss the oncoming war between the Old Gods and the New Gods with both Chapman and Whiskey Jack refusing to join either side.

After their discussion, Chapman decides to leave with Shadow and Wednesday. They walk into town and find Harry Bluejay at the rec hall and get the keys for the Buick. They drop Chapman off in Sioux Falls before stopping at a restaurant outside St. Paul.


John Chapman is a very friendly man who likes to make people comfortable and joke with them. He is agreable with everyone and doesn't seem to be bothered by people not liking him. He refuses to drink hard liquor, believing it makes people mad: he rather prefers soft cider. Despite his cheerful appearance, John Chapman has a low self-esteem, considering himself useless in a war, too weak and forgotten to be of any help to anyone.

Physical appearance[]

John Chapman is described as a barefoot man with skin the color of bark, a stubbly chin, and the worst set of teeth Shadow ever saw in a human mouth. Wearing stained buckskins and travelling with a small burlap sack, he walks around bare feet even in the snow and is never seen wearing any kind of shoes. The Author's Preferred Text mentions that the small burlap bag is a Hessian sack

In the graphic novel, John Chapman is an aging and mustached white-skinned man, with greying and balding black hair. He wears a red shirt, a pair of jeans, and a black waistcoat.


Whiskey Jack[]

John Chapman is a good friend of Whiskey Jack. When Mr. Wednesday and Shadow first enter Whiskey Jack's mobile home, John Chapman is inside, sharing Whiskey Jack's meal and having brought a gallon of "applejack", soft apple cider. Whiskey Jack respects John Chapman, believing that planting trees is a very good and honorable deed, and John Chapman is pleased to help Whiskey Jack whenever he needs it, for example by guiding his guests to Harry Bluejay. Due to several of the habitants of the surrounding area knowing him, it is safe to assume he regularly visits Whiskey Jack.

Mr. Wednesday[]

John Chapman is friendly towards Mr. Wednesday, sharing his dirty sense of humor and his disdain of Paul Bunyan. However he still considers Mr. Wednesday to be an "asshole" and warns Shadow in a friendly way to not mind anything his boss says about him. He also refuses to take part in his war against the New Gods.

Shadow Moon[]

John Chapman is quite friendly with Shadow, preferring to call him by his nickname than by his fake name (Ainsel), answering all of his questions and admiring how big of a man he is.

Paul Bunyan[]

John Chapman deeply resents Paul Bunyan for taking up the "head space" in the Americans mind, considering him partially responsible for his weakened state. According to Mr. Wednesday, John often brings the subject of Paul Bunyan and his grudge against him.

John Chapman's wife[]

John Chapman speaks briefly of his wife, mentionning that she was a Choctaw, that she thought he was crazy for never wearing any shoes or boots, and that he went "a mite crazy" after her death, though he adds that it "could have happened to anyone".

Harry Bluejay[]

John Chapman acts very friendly with Harry Bluejay, completely unfazed by Harry's dislike of him and amused by his denial of any relationship with Whiskey Jack.


Graphic Novel

Cultural background[]

"Johnny Appleseed" is the nickname of John Chapman, the American pioneer nurseryman who introduced apple trees in several states (Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, West Virginia and Ontario). Born in 1774, John started planting apple trees nurseries in the 1790s after an apprenticeship as an orchardist, and also acted as an itinerant missionary for the Swedenborgian New Church, preaching the Gospel as he travelled around the United-States to tend and create his nurseries. Said to be very kind with animals (some stories even claim he had a pet wolf), becoming a vegetarian in his later life, John converted several Native Americans to the New Church - it was said that the Native American tribes thought of him as someone "touched by the Great Spirit" and that even hostile tribes left him alone. However, most of these stories might have been exaggerated since, due to his kindness and generosity, Johnny Appleseed became a living legend, re-imagined as a saint-like pilgrim spreading apple seeds everywhere he went. The site of his grave and the date of his death are heavily debated, though it is agreed he died in the 1840s.

Johnny Appleseed became a folk hero of American culture. Several Johnny Appleseed Festivals are organized throughout the United-States, a Johnny Appleseed Park can be found in Indiana, March 11 and September 26 are sometimes celebrated as Johnny Appleseed Day, and there is a Johnny Appleseed Museum at the Urbana University. Strangely, despite the novel mentioning several times his wife, the historical John Chapman never married - he thought that he would find his soulmate in heaven if he did not on earth, and after his death his estate went to his sister. [1]

Notes and trivia[]