Reading Pointers for Sharper Insights
To fully appreciate Twain's fiction, note the following:
This story was not original with Mark Twain. He had heard it told many times in mining camps and other places he visited prior to his writing it.
Twain is satirizing several aspects of American life, but especially the country bumpkins who tend to speak at length about subjects that are close to them but are really unimportant and nonsensical.
Unique Elements in Twain's Story:
Note Twain's use of extremely long descriptive sentences when relating Wheeler's story and how Twain slows it down through his use of linguistics, bad grammar, and heavy dialect.
The broad humor in the actual telling of the story. The story is layered so that there is not just one or two anecdotes told, but various parts throughout the whole are funny.
Twain depicts the humorous personal characteristics of both frontier characters, Simon Wheeler, and Jim Smiley.
The amusing story line that ends with one man outwitting another—Jim Smiley had outwitted everyone throughout the story, but he was not as smart as he thought.