In "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County," explain the irony of the stranger's parting words.

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

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The ending of this short story, which is actually said by Twain himself rather than an anonymous stranger, is ironic because it shows how Twain recognises he has been the victim of a "tall story" and that the story he--and we as readers--have heard is not true. The teller of this story has clearly been having a great deal of fun at Twain's expense, and this is understood by Twain in the final few lines, when "the sociable Wheeler" returns and once again launches straight into another narrative about Smiley and his cow. Note what Twain says as he leaves:

"Oh! hang Smiley and his afflicted cow!" I muttered, good-naturedly, and bidding the old gentleman good-day, I departed.

Twain says these words "good-naturedly," and it is important to remember that although his words may seem offensive, they are actually ironic based on Twain's own sense of frustration at having been "barricaded" in by Wheeler and forced to listen to his tale for so long. It is interesting that Twain at various points in this tale describes the story that Wheeler tells him to be monotonous and dull, and yet the opposite is clearly the truth. These parting words therefore need to be seen in the same spirit, as Twain takes the opportunity to head off and avoid anymore so called "interminable" tales.


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