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The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County

by Mark Twain

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What does the narrator hope to learn from Simon Wheeler in "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County"?

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“The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calavaras County” is the perfect story to showTwain’s style of writing a humorous story. The story starts out with a narrator in search of someone or something, and the story takes a 90-degree turn and ends up in an unexpected place.  We see this in “Jumping Frog” when the narrator inquires about a man named Leonidas W. Smiley and goes to see Simon Wheeler for the information. Simon Wheeler begins his ramblings, and ends up telling a story about Jim Smiley and his famous frog. The narrator never learns anything about Leonidas W. Smiley at the conclusion of the story, but he leaves with a great tall tale about a contest and its famous winner, Dan’l Webster, the frog.

Twain also uses this technique in famous stories like “The Story of Grandfather’s Old Ram” and even in his novels like, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn through Tom Sawyer’s imagination and ability to “spin a yarn” (tell a story).

Twain writes in “How to Tell a Story”,

“The humorous story may be spun out to great length, and may wander around as much as it pleases, and arrive nowhere in particular; but the comic and witty stories must be brief and end with a point. The humorous story bubbles gently along, the others burst.”

Although Twain seems to “prank” his reader by never getting to the original purpose of the narrator’s, the wanderings of his short stories are filled with funny, satisfying tales of unusual characters.

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In the outside framework story, the narrator is on a mission to get information about a man named Leonidas W. Smiley. He is told by a friend taht if he wants to find information about this man, then he must go see Simon Wheeler. Once the narrator meets Simon Wheeler and inquires about Leonidas Smiley, Wheeler tells him the story of Jim Smiley instead. Thererfore, the narrator hopes to learn any possible information about Rev. Leonidas W. Smiley but is told a completely different story from Simon Wheeler.

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In “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” what does the narrator believe about his experience with Simon Wheeler?

First of all, the narrator in “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” asks for information about a man named Leonidas Smiley and is given a story by Simon Wheeler about a man named Jim Smiley.  So, one of the narrator’s feelings toward Wheeler is frustration because he is being told a story that he does not want to hear.  The narrator also feels that Wheeler’s story is boring and monotonous, and he can not wait for the story to come to an end.  The reader knows this because as soon as there is a break in Wheeler’s story when his name is called from across the bar, the narrator runs out of the bar as fast as he can.

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