The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County Ideas for Reports and Papers
by Mark Twain

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Ideas for Reports and Papers

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

1. Twain's story was first written as a letter, a style referred to as epistolary. Other examples of epistolary works are Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897) and Alice Walker's The Color Purple (1982). Discuss the impact of the epistolary form on the narrative and the reader's interest in a work.

2. Research what life—particularly life in a mining camp—was like in California at the time Twain wrote this tale. Discuss what you learn about camp life in relation to Twain's depiction of it in "Jumping Frog" and in stories such as Bret Harte's "The Luck of Roaring Camp" (1868).

3. Tall tales and folk tales traditionally have been used to present nontraditional ideas about society. Examine the social and political messages found in Joel Chandler Harris's "Br'er Rabbit" stories and compare them to this story.

4. Compare Twain's use of satire with that of Jonathan Swift in his "A Modest Proposal" (1729). What and who do these stories satirize?

5. Compare this tale to Twain's other travel sketches or humorous writings. Discuss their similarities and differences.

6. Find out more about the real Daniel Webster and Andrew Jackson. How does your understanding of their personalities enhance the humor and meaning of the story?