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The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County

by Mark Twain

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What are the figures of speech in "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" by Mark Twain?

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One of Mark Twain's earliest stories, "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" helped to establish Twain as a one of America's greatest humorists.  This story illustrates Twain's satirical attitude toward  storytelling and the cultural differences between the eastern and western regions of the United States.  Satire is a form of writing that makes use of stereotypes by ridiculing them through exaggeration, an exaggeration that prevails throughout the story, and is termed

hyperbole  [obvious exaggeration]

  • Simon Wheeler tells his "interminable narrative" of two men:

[He] admired its two heroes as men of transcendent genius in finesse.

  • Wheeler enumerates all the things that Jim Smiley would bet on anything, saying that he even bet on Parson Walker's wife who had fallen ill.  One day Smiley walked in and asked how Walker's wife was doing, and the Parson told him that she was doing better.  Nevertheless, Similey says "Well, I'll risk two-and-one-half" that she don't anyway."
 Smiley had a mare called a "fifteen-minute nag." Smiley's frog would "nail a fly every time as far as he could see him."

metaphor [unstated comparison]

  • He never changed his voice from the gentle-flowing key to which he turned the initial sentence
  • At the door I met the sociable Wheeler returning and he button-holed me.

simile  [Stated comparisons using like or as]

  • Jim Smiley had a dog that he would fight; when this dog fought,

his underjaw'd stick out like the forcastle of a steamboat....his teeth would...shine savage like the furnaces.

[Smiley had] a "Yellow one-eyed cow (hyperbole)...with no tail and only jest a short stump like a bannanner."

When speaking of his frog, Smiley says that it is "as solid as a glob of mud."  The frog

 scratches his head with his hind foot as indifferent as if he hadn't no idea he'd been doing anymore 'n any frog might do.

Dan'l Webster...hysted up his shoulders so like Frenchmen

The frog was whirling in the air like a doughnut.....turned one summersault or may be a couple or so and come down flat footed like a cat.

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