What does the narrator hope to learn from Simon Wheeler in "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County"?

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price7781 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

“The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calavaras County” is the perfect story to showTwain’s style of writing a humorous story. The story starts out with a narrator in search of someone or something, and the story takes a 90-degree turn and ends up in an unexpected place.  We see this in “Jumping Frog” when the narrator inquires about a man named Leonidas W. Smiley and goes to see Simon Wheeler for the information. Simon Wheeler begins his ramblings, and ends up telling a story about Jim Smiley and his famous frog. The narrator never learns anything about Leonidas W. Smiley at the conclusion of the story, but he leaves with a great tall tale about a contest and its famous winner, Dan’l Webster, the frog.

Twain also uses this technique in famous stories like “The Story of Grandfather’s Old Ram” and even in his novels like, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn through Tom Sawyer’s imagination and ability to “spin a yarn” (tell a story).

Twain writes in “How to Tell a Story”,

“The humorous story may be spun out to great length, and may wander around as much as it pleases, and arrive nowhere in particular; but the comic and witty stories must be brief and end with a point. The humorous story bubbles gently along, the others burst.”

Although Twain seems to “prank” his reader by never getting to the original purpose of the narrator’s, the wanderings of his short stories are filled with funny, satisfying tales of unusual characters.

dneshan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the outside framework story, the narrator is on a mission to get information about a man named Leonidas W. Smiley. He is told by a friend taht if he wants to find information about this man, then he must go see Simon Wheeler. Once the narrator meets Simon Wheeler and inquires about Leonidas Smiley, Wheeler tells him the story of Jim Smiley instead. Thererfore, the narrator hopes to learn any possible information about Rev. Leonidas W. Smiley but is told a completely different story from Simon Wheeler.

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