Describe Simon Wheeler’s tone, or attitude, toward his story. Do you think his tone adds to the humor of Mark Twain’s story?
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In Mark Twain's "The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County," the sesterer, Simon Wheeler, exaggerates his description of the frog's talents. For instance, he acts as though the frog were intelligent and thoughtful as he comments,
You never see a frog so modest and straightfor'ard as he was, for all he was so gifted.
This exaggeration is typical of western humorists, and with his dialect, Wheeler's effective exaggeration clearly adds to the humor of Twain's story. This exaggeration that is intended to delight the reader is also evident in the passage in which he describes how Smiley "learn that frog to jump":
He'd give him a little punch behind, and the net minute you's see that frog whirling in the air like a doughnut--see him turn one summer set, or maybe a couple, if he got a good start, and come down flatfooted and all right, like a cat.....
Smiley said all a frog wanted was education, and he could do 'most anything--and I believe him. Why, I've seen him set Dan'l Webster down here on the foor--Dan'l Webster was the name of the frog--and sing out, "Flies, Dan'l flies!" and quicker'n ou could wink he'd spring straight up and snake a fly off'n the counter there, and flop down on the floor ag'in as solid as a gob of mud, and fall to scratchin' the side of his head with his hind foot as indifferent as if he hadn't no idea he'd been doin' any more'n any frog might do.
The exaggeration and dialect of Smiley in the story within a story definitely adds to the humor as well as providing Twain with the fodder for his satire on the tall tale, and cultural differences in the western and eastern sections of the United States.
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