What is one key feature of Simon Wheeler's storytelling in "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County"?
One key feature of Simon Wheeler's storytelling is that he is long-winded, or rambling.
The narrator has been asked to visit Simon Wheeler and to inquire about a certain man named Leonidas W. Smiley. Simon Wheeler responds by backing the narrator into a corner and blockading him there with a chair, holding him captive as he begins to relate a tale about an entirely different man named Jim Smiley.
The narrator is then forced to endure various details of a man's life whom he never asked about in the first place. Simon Wheeler is full of "earnestness and sincerity" as he spins his tall tale, which the narrator listens to without interruption.
Even the way the narrator begins his story indicates that this will be quite a discursive tale:
There was a feller here once by the name of Jim Smiley, in the winter of '49 or maybe it was the spring of '50 I don't recollect exactly, somehow, though what makes me think it was one or the other is because I remember the big flume warn't finished when he first came to the camp; but anyway, he was the curiosest man about always betting on any thing that turned up you ever see...
The sentence continues on from this point as one idea successively morphs into the next, and Twain utilizes long sentences that mimic Wheeler's sense of winding recollections. Wheeler focuses on unimportant details time after time as he ultimately attempts to convey a story about Jim Smiley's pet frog named Dan'l Webster. Before Wheeler can get to that main point, however, the narrator is forced to endure painstaking details about Smiley's horse and his "bull pup." Wheeler even emphasizes the fine points of the fighting career of that pup, who was named Andrew Jackson.
What do horses and dog fighting have to do with the man's pet frog? Very little, which is part of the characterization of Wheeler's storytelling. He includes every detail that he can recall which is even remotely related to Jim Smiley's pet frog, convinced that the narrator is fascinated by his tale. When Wheeler is forced to take a break, he assures his listener, "Just set where you are, stranger, and rest easy I ain't going to be gone a second."
As the narrator attempts to make an escape, relieved by the interruption, he is caught once again by Wheeler, who launches into a new tale about Smiley's cow. Again, Wheeler proves that his storytelling tactics involve long, winding details with no particular sense of focus.