The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County Characters

Mark Twain


(Short Stories for Students)

Andrew Jackson
Jim Smiley's bull-pup, Andrew Jackson, was used by Jim in various bets. The dog is described as a good dog that does not look like much, and other dogs often seemed to get the better of him in fights. The narrator notes, however, that Andrew Jackson never seemed to be bothered by these temporary setbacks because once a bet was involved, his behavior would change. As the stakes in the bets were raised, Andrew Jackson would bite the other dog in the hind leg and stay there, hanging on, until the owner of his opponent would give in and forfeit the fight. In this way, Jim's bull-pup would win his fights. Andrew Jackson died when Jim arranged for him to fight a dog that did not have any hind legs. The narrator implies that Andrew Jackson was a proud dog and died of embarrassment. Like the former President of the United States with whom he shares his name, Andrew Jackson is described as being determined and strong-willed.

The Fifteen-Minute Nag
The Fifteen-Minute Nag is the name given to Jim Smiley's horse. An old and rather sickly animal, The Fifteen-Minute Nag was used by Jim in many of his bets. The horse suffered from various ailments and did not look as if she could win a horse race. Nevertheless, Jim would frequently put her in races. Although she would start out slow, in the last leg of the race, the nag always seemed to get excited and typically found the energy to win the race.

Jim Smiley
Jim Smiley is the focus of Simon Wheeler's tale. A resident of Calaveras County's Angel's Camp in either 1849 or 1850, Jim is primarily known for his love for betting and will bet on almost anything—no matter how ridiculous. He has even bet on whether people will recover from an illness and on which of two birds will fly away first. It is said Jim would even make a poor bet just so that he could make a bet. Jim was considered a lucky man, however, and frequently won his bets. Jim has several pets: an old horse, a bull-pup named Andrew Jackson, cats, chickens, and a frog named Dan'l Webster, who is the "celebrated frog" mentioned in the title of this story. Jim uses these animals' abilities as the basis for many...

(The entire section is 902 words.)