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How would a modern-day reader react to someone like Simon Wheeler who tells "tall...

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kristenmarieb... | Student, Grade 10 | Valedictorian

Posted February 9, 2013 at 2:25 AM via web

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How would a modern-day reader react to someone like Simon Wheeler who tells "tall tales" such as the one in "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County"?

Would they find him entertaining or boring? Explain why. 

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 9, 2013 at 4:27 AM (Answer #1)

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The continuing popularity of this short story shows the enduring appeal of Twain's comedy even though the modern-day reader is separated from his context by a number of years now. What is hilarious about this tale is the way that Simon Wheeler is so obviously delighting in the story that he tells to his captive audience, and the word "captive" is used advisedly, as Twain himself reveals to the reader:

Simon Wheeler backed me into a corner and blockaded me with his chair, and then he sat down and reeled off the monotonous narrative which follows this paragraph.

It is clear that Twain is slightly exaggerating his language with the use of such verbs as "blockaded," but the impact is clear: Twain presents himself as being almost trapped and forced to listen to a tale that has no relation to the question originally asked of Simon Wheeler and clearly is a classic "tall tale" told by an experienced raconteur to a green individual from the East who may feel more sophisticated but is actually taken for a ride by the wily Westener. This is a situation that any reader would find amusing.


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