Why is it ironic that Smiley loses the bet?      "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" by Mark Twain

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Jim Smiley about whom Simon Wheeler tells the narrator, is a man who would bet on anything: 

"...he was the curiousest man about always betting on anything that turned up you ever see, if he could get any body to bet on the other side; and if he couldn't he'd change sides....any way just so's he got a bet, he was satisfied.  But still he was lucky, uncommon lucky; he most always come out winner."

This gambler has acquired a frog that he has named Daniel Webster; and, since this frog has developed incredible jumping ability, he bets on it with anyone he can find.  So, with great confidence, Smiley shows his frog to a stranger in the camp, boasting that it can outjump any frog in Calaveras County, and saying he will risk forty dollars on its abilty. When the stranger says that he does not have a frog, Smiley eagerly offers to catch one for him in a nearby swamp if the stranger will hold the box containing Daniel Webster.  While Smiley is gone, however, the stranger pours quailshot into the belly of Daniel.  With the weight of the quailshot, he is unable to jump when the race begins with the newly acquired frog that Smiley has caught. Smiley, who has prided himself on his gambling expertise and his cleverness, ironically has been outsmarted by the stranger.

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