The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County

The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County

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The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County  

 

The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County is a delightfully entertaining piece of work. The characters are developed beautifully through fantastic descriptions, amusing actions, and mostly through smooth, flowing, and terrific dialogue. The dialogue is, indeed, the main attraction of this event. Simon Wheeler's speech is optimistic, and above all, very friendly. Wheeler tells of Smiley's antics as any great story teller would. Wheeler offers his own observations generously. They are casual and hospitable. Wheeler, speaking of Smiley's betting habit, interjects that, "Why, it never made no difference to him- he'd bet on anything- the dangdest feller" (113). This observation is helpful and funny. Wheeler also offers a fabulous story to illustrate his point. He tells of Smiley making a bet that a man's wife will not improve in health contradictory to what the doctors say. The absurdity of such a bet leaves the reader laughing out loud, in spite of such a morbid joke. Even the frog is personified and molded carefully into the most individual and unique frog ever to hop along. The frog is described by Wheeler as modest, straightforward, and gifted. "Dan'l Webster was the name of the frog..." (114). Daniel's aptitude for intelligent thought is evidenced by his ability to catch flies on command. Again, a most absurd assertion but, nonetheless, very comedic. Oddly, Daniel is compared to a cat. Wheeler observes that, "He'd [Smiley] give him a little pinch behind, and the next minute you'd see that frog whirling in the air like a doughnut- see him turn one summerset, or maybe a couple, if he got a good start, and come down flat- footed and all right, like a cat" (114). One could argue that Daniel is the main character of the story. The actual narrator of the story is an old friend of Smiley. The friend's brief relationship with Wheeler is also rather interesting. Twain does not say directly that the man is not particularly fond of Wheeler, but alludes to that through the narrator's dialogue. Smiley's old friend sits down with Wheeler and describes the act as such: "Simon Wheeler backed me into a corner and blockaded me there with his chair, and then sat down and reeled off the monotonous narrative which follows this paragraph" (113). Through the man's choice of words the reader quickly realizes that this is not a pleasurable experience to him.

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The last line of the story also makes a particularly blunt admittance of his dishonesty in the world and the perils of trusting others. Smiley loses a bet to a man who modifies Daniel by loading him with shot while Smiley is out hunting for a frog to compete with Daniel. This lesson seems secondary to the story's entertainment value. Also, it is unclear why the man is asked to inquire about Leonidas W. Smiley. The reader, however, gladly disposes of any questions and proceeds to take in the story light- heartedly and carelessly.
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