What is the central idea of Mark Twains "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County?"

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Central to Twain's "The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" is the satiric focus on storytelling along with the clash of cultures of the sophisticated East and the rather brash and bold West with its regionalisms. While Easterners found people in the West rather crude and unrefined, Westerners perceived those from the East as rather ingenuous and gullible. These attitudes prevail throughout the story as the narrator disparages Simon Wheeler, who reels off a monotonous narrative in a solemn way with no indication of humor.  Yet, the snobbish narrator himself is satirized as he remarks that throughout the

"interminable narrative there ran a vein of impressive earnestness and sincerity."

Simon Wheeler has feigned his unsophistication in his effort to dupe his Eastern listener by using the stereotypical manner of Western storytelling. He tricks the narrator, too, by falsely leading him into believing that he will tell about Leonidas W. Smiley, but moves to a tall-tale about Jim Smiley. Likewise, Twain satirizes the endless and nearly pointless narratives of some of the western storytellers as Simon abruptly leaves and then picks up just where he has left off when he returns. 

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