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The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County

by Mark Twain

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What does Simon Wheeler's appearance in paragraphs 2 and 3 suggest about him in The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County?

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Simon Wheeler's face is described as expressionless; "he never smiled, he never frowned," meaning that he never gave anything away to the narrator in terms of his mood or intentions other than sincerity. It could be accurately described using the metaphor of a poker face.

Moreover, the narrator describes him as "fat and bald-headed," with "an expression of winning gentleness and simplicity upon his tranquil countenance." The narrator describes Simon Wheeler as a person who would be easy to underestimate. He displays no hint of craftiness or hidden intelligence that might raise the narrator's suspicion that he is about to be trapped into listening to a time-wasting and pointless tall tale.

The fact that Simon Wheeler literally traps the narrator in a corner with his large body deepens the idea that he is harmless and not very self-aware, when in fact he is manipulating the narrator the whole time he tells his story.

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The first things the reader learns about Mr. Wheeler are that he is fat, bald and dozing in a tavern in the middle of the day. It is quite natural to assume that Mr. Wheeler is not gainfully employed, or at least not regularly employed given his freedom to be in such a place at such a time. And perhaps he is not so eager to be employed given the way he reacts to the narrator's question. He clearly has time on his hands.

He also "blockades" the narrator into a corner with his chair so his penchant for telling stories is clear. He is gentle and earnest and interestingly never changes his tone or demeanor while telling the story. The fact that he also seems to find nothing about his completely absurd story absurd suggests that he has seen a great deal out in the world, so much that even things that appear ridiculous to most readers are not enough to change the way he is telling his story or affect his countenance at all.

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