The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County

Mark Twain’s Celebrated Jumping Frog: Localism and the Expansion of America

March 18, 2021 by Essay Writer


Samuel Langhorne Clemens, otherwise known as Mark Twain, was one of America’s first great writers. He went from being a simple humorist as one of his early careers to becoming one of America’s greatest philosophers and novelists at the time. The time period he lived in had a huge influence on his way of writing and on his way of thinking, as “He wrote at a time when America was in the midst of tremendous westward expansion” (Pearson Web). Twain wrote several great works, ranging from short stories in newspapers to great novels, such as the classic: the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.


Another example of a great work of Twain’s is his story, The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County. Mark Twain uses a southwestern vernacular and localism as his way of writing; and The Notorious Frog of Calaveras County is no different. The story is an example of how Twain expresses what he knows and lessons that he has learned. In the story, the narrator is told by the locals of Angel’s camp to ask a man, Simon Wheeler, if he had ever heard of a man named Leonidas W. Smiley. Wheeler is notorious for his “monotonous narratives” (Levine 115) and his ability to talk for ages. The narrator goes to talk to him and when asked, Wheeler goes on to tell him about a man named Jim Smiley, not Leonidas. The narrator immediately begins to regret his decision. He goes on about how “[Jim] was the curiousest man about always betting on anything that turned up you ever see” (Levine 116) and about how full of himself Jim Smiley was. He told a story about how Smiley had a puppy one year that he used to win dog fights. The puppy used to bite the other dogs’ back legs; and even though almost everyone thought of his as the underdog, he still won almost every time. He told another story of the same kind about a horse that Jim got one year that he used in horse races. The horse would always be lagging behind, so people thought she would lose. But as it turns out, the horse won every single race. These are the reasons why Smiley felt so confident. He was never let down. However, one day an outsider comes to town. At the time, Jim had a frog that could “outjump any frog in Calaveras County” (Levine 118). He was sure that he could win a bet against the newcomer that the frog was the best. So he left his frog with the stranger, went to get a frog for the stranger, and came back ready to compete. Little did he know, the stranger had given Smiley’s frog a “double handful of shot” (Levine 118). Jim Smiley trusted the stranger and ended up losing at his own game. At the end of the story, the narrator gets fed up with the rambling of Simon Wheeler and tuned him out, simply because it was not what he wanted to hear.

Jim Smiley’s trust of the stranger is a prime example of localism. He got used to the way that everyone around him thought and how they reacted to his “talent”. Jim Smiley had become accustomed to the types of people and the way his world worked around him. He was unaware of the outsider’s point of view. Wheeler says “And then he see how it was, and he was the maddest man…”, talking about Smiley’s reaction to the stranger ruining his bet.

The Incoming Western Ways

This also leads to an example of America’s western ways. The expansion of America opened new doors for many new opportunities and “as the idea of the West expanded in the public imagination, it became… a society that operated on the other side of the law (Naden Web). The stranger represents the new ideas that came with finding new land and having new ideas from the West. Mark Twain greatly proved his ideas and mindset about the incoming Western ways. By writing about a man who believes that he is the best of the best, he showed that it is not good to be overly confident. Because, when Smiley lost, he “was a good deal surprised, and he was disgusted too”(Levine 118). Twain is showing the surprising changes of the Western society. The structure of the story also showed a resemblance to 19th century America because of the way Wheelers old mining camp was and because “Simon does appear, at least in the narrator’s opinion, to be simple” (Trudy Web). It just shows how much the times were changing and how much Mark Twain noticed it.

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Twain’s Style in The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calavares County

March 18, 2021 by Essay Writer


Mark Twain emerged onto the American literary scene in 1865, when he gained “national notice” for his short, dialectic piece, “The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calavares County”, first published in November 1865’s The Saturday Press as, “Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog” (Cain, McDermott, Newman, Wyss 11). The short story was an instant success, reprinted in newspapers and magazines across the country. After further editing, the tale was used as Twain’s title story in his first collection, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras Country, and Other Sketches” published in 1867 (Cain et al. 11). During the mid-to-late 19th century, American authors focused on a distinct type of realism known as regionalism. Twain’s “The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calavares County” is an excellent and humorous execution of this literary trend, which “worked to express [authors’] specific understanding of reality” (Cain et al. 8). Although Twain’s use of dialect removes the reader from the reality of the story’s events as they occurred, his use of regional realism accounts for “the middle and lower classes, […] and the ordinary circumstances of such people’s lives” (Cain et al. 3-11). Within Twain’s story, the readers are introduced to an unnamed narrator who transfers the narrative to a second character, Simon Wheeler. By the end of the story told by Wheeler, the narrator feels his time has been cheated by the far less educated man. Within Wheeler’s story, a lucky mountain man named Smiley is cheated out of forty dollars and victory by an uneducated frog. Through Twain’s use of frame narrative and dialectic realism, he instructs his audience to educate themselves unless they are cheated out of their time or money.


The tall tale of the jumping frog is told through the structure of a traditional Southwestern frame story, where the unnamed, educated narrator recounts a story he has heard from a seemingly uneducated Simon Wheeler, who gives his account of an “uncommon lucky” gambler, Jim Smiley, who gets cheated out of forty dollars by a stranger passing through town (Twain 14). The narrator’s dialect infers his genteel status, while used to explicitly state his irritation with Wheeler: I have a lurking suspicion Leonidas W. Smiley is a myth; […] Simon Wheeler backed me into a corner and […] reeled off the monotonous narrative which follows […] However, lacking both time and inclination, I did not wait to hear about the afflicted cow, but took my leave. (Twain 13-18) In the story’s conclusion, the reader is exposed to a situation where the educated are cheated by the uneducated for the second time, or in the meta-frame of the story, the educated narrator is cheated out of his time by the uneducated Simon Wheeler. The narrator expected to hear a story about Leonidas Smiley, but suspects he has been pranked by the friend who recommend he ask for it, and therefore feels cheated.

The narrator instead hears from the ‘good-natured, garrulous’ Simon Wheeler, who although cannot remember a Leonidas Smiley, does remember a Jim Smiley who lived in the camp around 1849 or 1850 (Twain 13). Without encouragement, Wheeler begins his extended narrative about the gambler Smiley and his exploits. He explains Smiley was ‘uncommon lucky,’ and had a reputation for betting on anything whenever he could: If there was a horse race, you’d find him flush or busted at the end of it; if there was a dog fight, he’d bet on it; if there was a cat-fight, […]; if there was a chicken-fight, […]; why if there was two birds setting on a fence, he would bet you which one would fly first. (Twain 14)

Whenever Smiley bet on his aged, “fifteen-minute nag”, she always seemed to win “and always fetch up at the stand just about a neck ahead” (Twain 14-15). His bullpup, Andrew Jackson, also won all his fights except for his last. It seems when Andrew Jackson felt the fight was too unfair, “He give Smiley a look, as much as to say his heart was broke, and it was his fault, for putting up a dog that hadn’t no hind legs […] then he […] laid down and died” (Twain 15). Andrew Jackson had been trained by Smiley to fight, in that way Jackson was educated, and would rather die than win in an unfair fight. Smiley’s educated bullpup would rather die than win by cheating.

Local Characterization and Dialect

Smiley, Wheeler goes on, also once caught a frog, which he named Dan’l Webster, and trained him to jump. Twain’s use of local characterization and dialect becomes apparent in Wheeler’s description of Dan’l Webster, “[Smiley] ketched a frog one day, and took him home, and said he cal’lated to educate him; and so he did […] learn that frog to jump. And you bet you he did learn him, too” (15). The frog was a remarkable jumper and could beat any frog brought from all corners of the county to challenge him. Wheeler explains, one day, a stranger passing through town came by the mining camp, and after seeing Smiley’s frog, “The feller took the box again, and took another long, particular look, and give it back to Smiley and says, very deliberate, “Well,” he says, “I don’t see no p’ints about that frog that’s any better’n any other frog“” (Twain 16). Smiley bet the man $40 Dan’l Webster could out-jump any other frog in the County. Without a frog to bet against, Smiley left the bar to find the stranger a frog. While gone, the stranger fed and filled Dan’l Webser with quail-shot. When Smiley returned with the new frog, it jumped forward while Dan’l Webster could not budge. The stranger “took the money and started away; and when he was going the door,[…] says again, very deliberate, “Well,” he says, “I don’t see no p’ints about that frog that’s any better’n any other frog“” (Twain 18). When Smiley examines his frog and realizes what had happened, he takes off after the stranger, but never catches him. Through Twain’s stories of the narrator feeling cheated out of his time by Simon Wheeler, and the stranger cheating Smiley out of his rightful $40, Twain presents a reoccurring moral lesson that the educated can only be outwitted through cheating which is also seen again in his later works.


With its charming characterization, narrative structure, and controlled style, ‘Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog’ was the best piece Twain had written to date, and marks a turning point in his development as a writer. While the sketch is located within a Southern frame story, Twain’s individual writing style heavily influences its tone and outcome, and is also found in his later writings. Major themes found in the story of the jumping frog resemble those commonly found in Southwestern folktales, including the educated being outwitted (or cheated), as when the career gambler Smiley is cheated by the stranger; the confrontation between the educated and uneducated, as represented by the narrator and Simon Wheeler; and the fantastic, as Wheeler’s account of Smiley’s tales and his talents becomes more and more ridiculous. Twain elevates the typical Southwestern frame narrative to new levels of humor and execution with the creation of charming characters and fantastic events, combined with his use of shifting points of view and believable, regional and dialectic narrative voices.

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Comparison of the Theme of Greed in The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County and The Devil and Tom Walker

March 18, 2021 by Essay Writer


Although “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” by Mark Twain develops its theme of one does not have to be educated to be clever, through allusions, “The Devil and Tom Walker” by Washington Irving better develops the theme of greed can lead to moral corruption, through allegory and symbolism.

The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County

“The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County’ begins in Angels Camp, a mining settlement in Calaveras County, California when a man from the east comes to visit. The narrator speaks with Simon Wheeler to ask after a man named Leonidas W. Smiley, at the request of a friend. Instead of giving the narrator the information that he requested, Wheeler goes on a tangent and launches a tall tale about a man named Jim Smiley. Jim Smiley would bet on anything. The major theme of this story is that one does not have to be educated to be clever. After Smiley had continued betting the dog, named Andrew Jackson, to the point of his death, Wheeler states, “It was a good pup, was that Andrew Jackson, and would have made a name for hisself if he’d lived, for the stuff was in him, and he had genius I know it, because he hadn’t had no opportunities to speak of, and it don’t stand to reason that a dog could make such a fight as he could under them circumstances, if he hadn’t no talent.” (Twain, 2). Through this quote, Twain develops the theme by explaining that the dog was not very smart, but he was extremely clever. The tactic he used won him a lot of dog fights until he was paired with a dog that had no hind legs, which was a fluke situation. But this dog, that most everyone believed was not worth a dime, proved many wrong, not by being incredibly educated, but by his cleverness during his fights. Twain uses allusion by naming the dog after Andrew Jackson, the 7th president of the United States and a former general. Both the dog and Jackson were known for being tough and unstoppable in battle. Andrew Jackson was not known for his smarts, but his perseverance and scrappiness, especially during his presidency and several battles. After the stranger filled Smiley’s frog with quail shot, Smiley had gathered a frog for the stranger to compete with, and they were lined up ready for the bet, Wheeler, talking about Smiley, says, “Then he says, ‘One two three jump!’ and him and the feller touched up the frogs from behind, and the new frog hopped off, but Dan’l give a heave, and hysted up his shoulders so like a Frenchman, but it wan’s no use he couldn’t budge; he was planted as solid as an anvil, and he couldn’t no more stir than if he was anchored out. Smiley was a good deal surprised, and he was disgusted too, but he didn’t have no idea what the matter was, of course” (Twain, 4). Through this quote, Twain develops the theme by showing how uneducated and oblivious Smiley was, especially to leave his frog, that he had been training for 3 months, with his competitor. The story says nothing about the stranger’s education, but he was very clever. By putting the quail shot into Dan’l Webster, the stranger was able to win the bet. Smiley, thinking he was smart to train and bet the abilities of his frog with a stranger that was handling a frog that was picked from outside minutes before the competition, would instantly win the bet and obtain money, was completely fooled by the person he was trying to fool. Smiley was so oblivious that he didn’t realize what had happened until his frog burped up some quail shot, but at that point, the stranger was already gone with the money, and it was too late. Twain uses allusion by naming the frog “Dan’l Webster” referring to the great American statesman, Daniel Webster. The fact that both the frog and the statesman were known for their brilliance leads to the reason why Twain chose to use this allusion. The intelligence and mastery of the frog, being able to learn and obtain skills quickly, could have easily won the bet against the stranger but ultimately lost due to Smiley’s ignorance and obliviousness.

The Devil and Tom Walker

“The Devil and Tom Walker” begins the story with a short explanation about Kidd the Pirate who left gold buried on the banks of Boston. Since Kidd’s death, the devil, taking the form of many different people, guards its hiding place. Then Irving mentions Tom Walker, a miser. He never gives anything to anyone, including his wife. His wife, who is as miserable as he is, is verbally abusive and rumored around town to be physically abusive toward Tom as well. One day when walking home, Tom decides to take a shortcut through the swamp and sits on a log to rest. Soon, being confronted by a sick faced man who is identified as “Old Scratch.” This man, who is the devil, offers Tom a large sum of money in exchange for “certain conditions.” Tom goes home and discusses the offer with his wife. She believes he should take the offer. Tom, being miserly, is hesitant to take the offer since he doesn’t want to share any of the wealth with his wife. She becomes angry and decides to visit “Old Scratch” herself. But after a couple of days, she doesn’t return. After Tom had been searching through the woods, all he finds is her heart and liver tied up in her apron and he knows that she is dead. Tom is happy about his wife’s death because this now leaves him to make his deal with “Old Scratch” and not have to share any of the wealth. After his conversation with the devil, Tom agrees to be a corrupt usurer. He leaves Boston living a life of wealth and corruption. Years later, Tom decides to go to church to seek salvation, fearing the potential punishments for the actions he has made. Carrying a Bible everywhere he goes, to try and ward off old scratch, Tom believes he is safe until Old Scratch shows up at his door with a black horse. Tom is thrown upon the horse and taken back to the old Indian fort, gone in a blaze of fire. The theme of the story is greed can lead to moral corruption. Irving reveals the theme through symbolism to create the allegory. The devil symbolizing temptation, Tom and his wife symbolizing greed, and later, Tom symbolizing hypocrisy after seeking salvation at the church, which Irving shows will be punished. The murky woods full of quagmires in which Tom meets the devil are symbolic of his conscience, which, clouded by his greed, falls easily to the devil’s temptation. At the beginning of the story, it states, “He had a wife as miserly as himself; they were so miserly that they even conspired to cheat each other”(Irving 1). Through this quote, Irving shows how greed can destroy valuable relationships. Tom Walker and his wife treated each other horribly and had horrible thoughts just because they were so greedy and miserly. Later, as Tom is being carried off to hell on the horse, these were his last words, “The devil take me if I have made a farthing!”(Irving 5). Through this quote, Irving develops the theme by showing that Tom has become just as bad as the devil himself; he’s a liar, a cheat, a miser, and a man who has lost his moral completely. At this point, there is no chance of redemption for Tom, as he calls for the devil to take him away.


“The Devil and Tom Walker” was more effective in developing its theme of greed can lead to moral corruption better than “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras Country” because “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” tried to incorporate its theme through two very different scenarios. When the narrator was talking about the dog’s persistence and strength, then ending the portion of the story by having the dog lose a battle and end up dying, brought the attention of the reader away from the theme of one does not have to be educated to be clever to the fact that the dog had died from a fluke situation. Although the dog was uneducated but clever, his death showed that even the most clever can be fooled by simple things. In “The Devil and Tom Walker,” Irving developed the theme using different literary devices and incorporating all of them to make the theme more straightforward and easier to understand for the reader. Though Tom Walker is presented as an individual who has always been morally corrupt, the action of “The Devil and Tom Walker” presents how moral corruption breeds more moral corruption, escalating to the greatest corruption of all, a pact with the devil. Selling his soul to the devil presents a crisis to Tom only when he pauses to consider the after-life. His conversion to religion, made specifically for the sake of his personal interest rather than his faith in God, is a further act of moral corruption. Nevertheless, Tom cannot escape his fate, and Irving makes it clear the consequences of such “ill-gotten wealth.” Though the narrator refers to the tale as a “story,” he also states that the truth of it, “is not to be doubted.” Although Mark Twain’s “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras Country” does a beautiful job of illustrating the theme of one does not have to be educated to be clever through allusion, it is unparalleled by Washington Irving’s “The Devil and Tom Walker”‘s development of its theme of greed can lead to moral corruption through allegory and symbolism.

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The Regionalism in The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County

March 18, 2021 by Essay Writer


Mark Twain was successful in his own story “The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” was written in November 18th, 1865. This story can be said as a “first step” in his big career, helps him be famous not only in America but also in the world until now. Twain is skillful when he send a precious lesson about the human manner through a picture about Easterner’s life, and with character Jime Smiley, Twain also known as “a master of regionalism” and this movement best fit the story.

The Life of the Author

Samuel Langhorne Clemens, known by other name is Mark Twain (after, Mark Twain is the name used as his original name), he was an American writer, humorist, entrepreneur, publisher, and lecturer. Mark Twain was born on November 30, 1835, in Florida, Missouri, the sixth of seven children born to Jane (his mother; 1803–1890), a native of Kentucky, and John Marshall Clemens (his father; 1798–1847), a native of Virginia. But because of some reasons, he has been grown up with three more of his survived siblings during his childhood: Orion (1825–1897), Henry (1838–1858), and Pamela (1827–1904). When he was four, Twain’s family moved to Hannibal, Missouri, and he was raised in a port town on the Mississippi River that inspired the fictional town of St. Petersburg in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. He served an apprenticeship with a printer and then worked as a typesetter, contributing articles to the newspaper of his older brother Orion Clemens. In 1851 he began working as a typesetter, contributing articles and humorous sketches to the Hannibal Journal, a newspaper that Orion owned. Slavery was popular and legal at that time, so it was the theme of most of his writings. His father was an attorney and judge, who died of pneumonia in 1847, when Twain was 11. One year after, Twain left school when finishing the fifth grade to become a printer’s apprentice. When he was 18, he left Hannibal and worked as a printer in New York City, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Cincinnati, the printers trade union invited him joining the newly formed International Typographical Union. Because he left his school too early, he has to educated himself in public libraries in the evenings, by himself finding wider information than at a conventional school. Twain (1883) described his boyhood in “Life on the Mississippi”, stating that ‘there was but one permanent ambition’ among his comrades: to be a steamboatman: ” Pilot was the grandest position of all. The pilot, even in those days of trivial wages, had a princely salary – from a hundred and fifty to two hundred and fifty dollars a month, and no board to pay.”(16). Twain (1883) also described, the pilot’s prestige exceeded that of the captain. The pilot had to: “get up a warm personal acquaintanceship with every old snag and one-limbed cottonwood and every obscure wood pile that ornaments the banks of this river for twelve hundred miles; and more than that, must… actually know where these things are in the dark.”(44). He later became a riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River teached by steamboat pilot Horace E. Bixby. He took Twain on as a cub pilot to teach him the river between New Orleans and St. Louis for $500 (equivalent to $14,000 in 2018), payable out of Twain’s first wages after graduating. Two years before he received his licence, a piloting gave him his second is ‘Mark Twain’,this name symbolize for a measured river depth of two fathoms (12 feet), which was safe water for a steamboat. He then left for Nevada to work for Orion, who was Secretary of the Nevada Territory. He officially ended his life on April 21, 1910 in Redding, Connecticut, one day after the comet’s closest approach to Earth. Twain was born two weeks after Halley’s Comet’s closest approach in 1835; he had a prediction about his own last days in 1909: “I came in with Halley’s Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it. It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don’t go out with Halley’s Comet. The Almighty has said, no doubt: ‘Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together’. When Twain died, President at that time William Howard Taft said: ” Mark Twain gave pleasure – real intellectual enjoyment – to millions, and his works will continue to give such pleasure to millions yet to come … His humor was American, but he was nearly as much appreciated by Englishmen and people of other countries as by his own countrymen. He has made an enduring part of American literature.” Twain’s funeral was at the Brick Presbyterian Church on Fifth Avenue, New York. He is buried in his wife’s family plot at Woodlawn Cemetery in Elmira, New York. He left his estate was estimated at $471,000 ( $13,000,000 today).

He failed as a miner on Comstock Lode, then he had to work at the Virginia City newspaper Territorial Enterprise, working under a friend, the writer Dan DeQuille. And in here, he used his second name the first time on February 3, 1863; signed “Mark Twain” on a humorous travel account entitled “Letter From Carson – re: Joe Goodman; party at Gov. Johnson’s; music”. In Angels Camp (in Calaveras County, California), by is observation about the daily life of the local, he wrote a short story ” The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” (1865). HIs humorous tall tale “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” was his first success as a writer, and it was published in November 18, 1865, in the New York weekly The Saturday Press, made his reputation is known widely in the world. Not only having love with literature, but also science is a happiness of his. He invented two important things for the present life, these are ” Improvement in Adjustable and Detachable Straps for Garments” (to replace suspenders) and a history trivia game. Twain was an early proponent of fingerprinting as a forensic technique, featuring it in a tall tale in Life on the Mississippi (1883) and as a central plot element in the novel Pudd’nhead Wilson (1894).

Realism, Regionalism and Naturalism

All three movements are the art in literature in the past. Realism is a movement in art, which started in the mid nineteenth century in France, and later spread to the entire world. Realism is used as a device to find which is called fantastic and romantic then insert the real in. The tone, worlds, or mood of realism is simple, the writers usually use realism without figurative meaning like simile and metaphor to describe story elements, such as setting, characters, themes, etc… By using realism, writers can explain things without decorative language or sugar-coating the events. Realism can be said something opposite to romanticism and idealism. Regionalism is another movement in literature, which is described complex characters who are ordinary people, depict true-to-life dialogue, detached observation, detailed description, or relate to social themes such as: class conflicts, urbanization, family life; accurately represents: speech, manners, habits, history, folklore and belief,.. of people in a specific geographical region. The writers use regionalism to shape the characteristic of the character they are writing about. This movement cans reveal to the reader some of historical background of the story. The last one is naturalism, a movement started in late XIX century in literature, film, and art. With naturalism, the writers can portrays ordinary settings, detached observation, detailed description, emphasize instinct and environmental affects of human behaviour, believed that the fate of human is determined by forces beyond an individual’s control. In fact, naturalism took its cue from Darwin’s theory of evolution, which holds that life is like a struggle and only the fittest survive.

Regionalism in the Short Story

The story is started by a “big story” of Mark Twain and the picture about the culture, also the life of easterner. His friend request him to go the East, looking for the story about “my friend’s friend” is Leonidas W. Smiley. And when he comes, he is welcomed by an old “garrulous” Simon Wheeler. Simon Wheeler is described by Twain: ” I found Simon Wheeler dozing comfortably by the barroom stove of the dilapidated tavern in the decayed mining camp of Angel’s, and I noticed that he was fat and had an expression of winning gentleness and simplicity upon his tranquil countenance.” (Mark Twain, 1865, 686). Through Twain’s description about Simon, the readers can figure out the class of most of people in middle and last XIX. They are very average people, although they are different in many ways. This middle – class people as the main character in literary work is a characteristic of the genre of regionalism. The life and living standard of easterner are not quite good, moreover, their characteristic is kind, honest, and friendly, however, sometimes because of their kindness, with some people, it will become “garrulous” like Twain feels Simon.

Instead of being listened the story about Leonidas W. Smiley, Twain received a story that the main character is also named Smiley, but he is Jim Smiley. The special here is Twain doesn’t tell this story, Simon is the person who retell it, so it can be understood as ” story in story”. “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 wasn’t finished when he first came to the camp; but anyway, he was the curiousest man about always betting on any thing that turned up you ever see, if he could get any body to bet on the other side; and if he couldn’t, he’d change sides. Any way that suited the other man would suit him any way just so’s he got a bet, he was satisfied. But still he was lucky, uncommon lucky; he most always come out winner. He was always ready and laying for a chance; there couldn’t be no solitary thing mentioned but that feller’d offer to bet on it, and -take any side you please, as I was just telling you. If there was a horse-race, you’d find him flush, or you’d find him busted at the end of it; if there was a dog-fight, he’d bet on it; if there was a cat-fight, he’d bet on it; if there was a chicken-fight, he’d bet on it; why, if there was two birds setting on a fence, he would bet you which one would fly first; or if there was a camp-meeting, he would be there reg’lar, to bet on Parson Walker, which he judged to be the best exhorter about here, and so he was, too, and a good man.” ( Twain, 1865, 686). Twain’s intentional use of deliberate bad grammar and misspelled words helps to create the authenticity of the characters and the atmosphere of the California gold mining camp. The theme of Wheeler’s story – a dance competition between two frogs – also illustrates the regional aspect of territory, pre-state, selling California law. By regionalism and some literary device such as metaphor, simile,… Twain brings to the readers a character with competitive personal, that is Jim Smiley. No matter what it is, he bets on everything: Horse race, a dog – fight, or even that is a couple of birds,… this draws a picture about a diapilated society and a low-class uneducated.

The regionalism is shown in the characteristic of Jim Smiley in which he is too honest, and his enemy uses his carelessness to trick him, lead him to lose. Twain (1865) writes: “‘Well,’ Smiley says, easy and careless, ‘He’s good enough for one thing, I should judge he can outjump any frog in Calaveras county.’ The feller took the box again, and took another long, particular look, and give it back to Smiley, and says, very deliberate, ‘Well, I don’t see no p’ints about that frog that’s any better’n any other frog.’. ‘Maybe you don’t,’ Smiley says. ‘May be you understand frogs, and maybe you don’t understand ’em; maybe you’ve had experience, and may be you an’t only a amature, as it were. Anyways, I’ve got my opinion, and I’ll risk forty dollars that he can outjump any frog in Calaveras county.’ And the feller studied a minute, and then says, kinder sad like, ‘Well, I’m only a stranger here, and I an’t got no frog; but if I had a frog, I’d bet you.’ And then Smiley says, ‘That’s all right that’s all right if you’ll hold my box a minute, I’ll go and get you a frog.’ And so the feller took the box, and put up his forty dollars along with Smiley’s, and set down to wait.” ( 688-689). Smiley is totally careless when leaves his frog next to a stranger and even he knows between them will have a competition about their frog. He still doesn’t feel hesitant and let the stranger keep his frog and then the stranger uses that time to “take the advantages of Smiley’s frog”. This is one of a lot of evidences about the uneducated of most of easterner class and the regionalism can be reflected by this speech.

Last but not least, the regionalism appear in the last scene of the story in which Jim Smiley loses his betting with the stranger: “Now, if you’re ready, set him alongside of Dan’l, with his fore- paws just even with Dan’l, and I’ll give the word.’ Then he says, ‘One two three jump!’ and him and the feller touched up the frogs from behind, and the new frog hopped off, but Dan’l give a heave, and hysted up his shoulders so like a Frenchman, but it wan’s no use he couldn’t budge; he was planted as solid as an anvil, and he couldn’t no more stir than if he was anchored out. Smiley was a good deal surprised, and he was disgusted too, but he didn’t have no idea what the matter was, of course.The feller took the money and started away; and when he was going out at the door, he sorter jerked his thumb over his shoulders this way at Dan’l, and says again, very deliberate, ‘Well, I don’t see no p’ints about that frog that’s any better’n any other frog.’Smiley he stood scratching his head and looking down at Dan’l a long time, and at last he says, ‘I do wonder what in the nation that frog throw’d off for I wonder if there an’t something the matter with him he ‘pears to look mighty baggy, somehow.’ And he ketched Dan’l by the nap of the neck, and lifted him up and says, ‘Why, blame my cats, if he don’t weigh five pound!’ and turned him upside down, and he belched out a double handful of shot. And then he see how it was, and he was the maddest man he set the frog down and took out after that feller, but he never ketchd him. And-“(Twain, 1865,689-690). Until the betting is started, Smiley still doesn’t know that he was trick and in his frog’s stomach is “five pounds weight”. He loses his own betting that he invites the stranger to bet. But then when the stranger go away with $40, he realizes the fact behind, and it’s too late to do anything. Because of low-educated, he has to receive and accept this result even he may have the chance to win. Regionalism in this text opens for the reader one more aspect about the old society in late XIX, when the bad people and the goodness always exist together and appear everywhere in the life, when the idea “win-lose” is still the most important thing in the thinking of the easterner. The story about Jim Smiley is ended when Simon Wheeler hears his name called and he goes outside. Simon wants the author stay a little more, but he decides to go and come back home with a precious lesson he cans receive through the story of Simon Wheeler. Even the main person is not appeared in the story but with the author, the picture about Jim Smiley may be more interesting than Leonidas W. Smiley. And one more time, the regionalism is the movement that best fit the story and together with Mark Twain make this story successes and popular in the world.

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The Heart of Realism: The Luck of Roaring Camp, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, Editha

March 18, 2021 by Essay Writer


“A lack of realism in the vision today costs credibility tomorrow” (Maxwell). Realism is a powerful tool many authors use to create a realistic picture in their work. Many authors such as Bret Harte, Mark Twain, and William Dean Howells used this in their work to display a realistic image of the world through their eyes as well as many others. The main objective of realism is to establish the difference between romantic literature and raw literature to show what is real. The Realism movement influenced many authors works including those of Bret Harte, Mark Twain, and William Dean Howells; because of their works realistic composition, they are still widely read and popular today.


Realism is an artistic movement that began in 19th century France where artists and writers worked for detailed realistic and factual description. This literary form of writing believes in loyalty over reality in its depiction. The root of realism is about reinventing life in literature. Realism concentrates on the honest treatment of common, everyday life (Scheidenhelm). “Realism in this simplified sense must assume a one-to-one relationship between the signifier and the thing it represents” (“Realism and the Realist Novel”). Realist authors have a pragmatic view, meaning they are concerned with the impact of the work on the reader and his or her life. Pragmatism requires a work to have some type of provable outcome for the reader that will lead to a better life for him or her. Realism, also, intends to understand the certainties of any characteristic of life, free from subjective preconception, idealism, or romantic color. It is in opposite to the basis of Romanticism. This importance was brought on by societal changes such as the aftermath of the Civil War in the United States and the emerging of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution and its effect upon biblical interpretation. There are countless characteristics used in realistic writing. In realistic writing, complex choices are often the subject and the characters are more important than the action and plot. Characters appear in the complexity of nature and reason; they tend to control their own destiny. Social class is a very important factor in this type of writing, the middle class is usually the focus. Diction is the natural vernacular; the tone may be comic, satiric, or matter-of-fact. Finally, symbolism is not used very often, realistic authors tend to use images to get their point across (Scheidenhelm).

Bret Harte and “The Luck of Roaring Camp”

Bret Harte was an American short-story writer who is best remembered for his short fiction “The Luck of Roaring Camp.” Francis Brett Harte was born on August 25, 1836, in Albany, New York, and died May 5, 1902, in London, England. In the 1860s, Harte found a job setting type for The Golden Era and soon began contributing poems, stories, and many other works. His career was confirmed in 1868 when he became the first editor of Overland Monthly, a publication that was widely read throughout the United States. In the second issue of the Overland Monthly, Harte published “The Luck of Roaring Camp,” which made him famous almost instantly. He was able to create a compelling vison of the West through a combination of romantic adventure and gritty realism. A characteristic that set him apart from the other writers of this realism era was his ability to portray an ironic perspective that went unnoticed by readers unaquanted with California. In 1871, Harte left San Francisco at the peak of his fame in hopes his fame would grow farther in the East. After his cross-country journey that was covered by daily press, the publisher James T. Fields offered Harte ten thousand dollars to write twelve more poems and sketches to be published in the Atlantic Monthly. Unfortunately, he was not able to write much in the following twelve months, so his contract was not renewed. The last three decades of his life consisted of a decline in his personal and literary fortunes. In spite of Harte’s decline, he is still a widely read author today (Harte 306-7).

“The Luck of Roaring Camp” was surrounded around the birth of a baby boy in a 19th-century gold prospecting camp. There are many key elements that relate this work to realism including: the setting, changing of the characters, and the plot. The story takes place in a camp that “lay in a triangular valley between two hills and a river. The only outlet was a steep trail over the summit of a hill that faced the cabin, now illuminated by the rising moon” (Harte 308). The camp is inhabited by all men except one female, Cherokee Sal. After Cherokee Sal gives birth, her health declines before “she climbed the rugged crossroad that lead to the stars, and so passed out of Roaring Camp” (Harte 309). After her death, the men of the town decide to raise the child together. The men were once described as rough, dirty, and immoral; however, once the child was born the men cleaned up their act and seemed to have found their purpose in life. At the end of the story, a flood engulfs the town taking Kentuck and Thomas Luck with it. The flood taking the lives of the innocent lives signifies realism in the story because life does not always have a happy ending.

Mark Twain and ‘The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County’

Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was a well- known American writer remembered for his use of realism. Mark Twain was born on November 30, 1835, in Florida, Missouri, and died on April 21, 1910, in Redding, Connecticut. Like many authors of this era, Twain began his writing journey working for a newspaper before moving on to more taxing tasks. He became close with his fellow realist, Bret Harte, who opened the door for his career and future fame. In his later years, Twain found himself consulted by the press on every subject of general interest. In 1906, he embarked on the journey to creating his autobiography. Twain’s autobiography was finally put on the shelf almost one hundred years later in 2010, and instantly became a best seller (Twain 101-4).

“The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” is about Simon Wheeler telling the story of a man named Leonidas W. Smiley who gambled on everything in sight. There are many characteristics of realism portrayed in this story. Two of the main characteristics include the dialect and the setting. The setting was Angle’s Camp, California where mostly men inhabited, this contributed to the laid back/simple times and weak plot. The conversations among the characters are not relevant, which leads to the weak plot. However, the dialogue is used to remind the reader of the setting and time in which the story is taking place. Simple dialect such as, “And the feller took it, and looked at it careful, and he turned it round this way and that, and says, ‘H’m-so ‘tis. Well, what’s he good for?’” (Twain 107), are used to draw the readers attention to the simplicity the story is trying to accomplish.

William Dean Howells and ‘Editha’

William Dean Howells was an American realist author and was nicknamed “The Dean of American Letters.” William Dean Howells was born on March 1, 1837, in Martins Ferry, Ohio, and died on May 11, 1920, in New York City, New York. In 1860, because of Howells support to the Republican party, he was given the opportunity to write Abraham Lincoln’s campaign biography. In 1871-1881 Howells worked as an editor for a magazine company where he published seven novels. After he retired from Cosmopolitan in 1893, he went back to writing other types of works such as short stories until he died from pneumonia. Over Howells lifetime he had many opportunities to do amazing things and his works are still widely read today (Howells 314-16).

“Editha” tells a story of Editha and her lover George’s views of war and the struggle that it can bring on someone. One of the main characteristics that relates this story to realism is the complex characters. The plot of this story is, once again, simple but the characters are the focus of the story. The main characters, Editha and George, are complete opposite from each other. Editha believes George should enlist in the war, but George does not want to because he has seen the bad effects war can bring on a family. After George enlists Editha is conflicted; she tells him, “You don’t belong to yourself now; you don’t even belong to me. You belong to your country, and you have a sacred charge to keep yourself strong and well for your country’s sake” (Howells 322).


Bret Harte, Mark Twain, and William Dean Howells were all American realism authors that contributed greatly to the works of literature. These three men accomplished so any things in their lives and they contributed greatly to American literature. These authors had a different subject matter in their writing, but this did not change the fact they were amazing authors who wrote in a realistic fashion. Harte, Twain, and Howells used what they saw and things they experienced in their lives for inspiration for their writings, and because of this it made their works stronger. Overall, these three authors works are still popular and widely read around the world today.

Works Cited

  1. Harte, Bret, “The Luck of Roaring Camp,” The Norton Anthology of American Literature, Editor Robert S. Levine, Norton, 2017, pgs. 306-14.
  2. Howells, William, “Editha,” The Norton Anthology of American Literature, Editor Robert S. Levine, Norton, 2017, pgs. 314-26.
  3. Maxwell, John, “Realism Quotes,” Brainy Quote, Assessed February 18, 2019.
  4. “Realism and the Realist Novel,” 13 Point Program and Platform of the Young Lords Party, Assessed February 7, 2019.
  5. Scheidenhelm, Carol, “Realism,” Deer Valley Unified School District, Assessed February 7, 2019.
  6. Twain, Mark, “The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” The Norton Anthology of American Literature, Editor Robert S. Levine, Norton, 2017, pgs. 101-8.
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The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County by Mark Twain. Short Story Analysis

March 18, 2021 by Essay Writer

In Mark Twain’s, “Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog”, the language used by the narrator allowed readers to grasp a tiny portion of how socially different people are on the west coast when compared to the east coast. Mark Twain was the epitome of what people would call the ‘southern gentleman’. He was courteous, and well-mannered. One can easily see Twain’s good manners and courtesy with a look at how he starts out his story, “Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog”.

Rather than write to Mr. A. Ward and confront him about his deceiving words and become angry, Twain simply says that,

I have a lurking suspicion that your Leonidas W. Smiley is a myth- that you never knew such a personage, and that you only conjectured that if I asked old Wheeler about him it would remind him of his infamous Jim Smiley, and he would go to work and bore me nearly to death with some infernal reminiscence of him as long and tedious as it should be useless to me. If that was your design, Mr. Ward, it will gratify you to know that it succeeded(59-60).

Ever the gentleman, Twain continues telling Mr. Ward about the story “old Simon Wheeler” told him about Jim Smiley. Twain makes the reader assume that he is a good, well-mannered man by asking Simon Wheeler to tell him about Rev. Leonidas W. Smiley, and saying that, “I let him go on his own way, and never interrupted him once”(60).

Simon Wheeler was a simple man whom only wanted to help Mark Twain in his inquiry about Leonidas Smiley but, as simple people are apt to do, Wheeler remembers a different man, named Jim Smiley, and Wheelers tale begins. It is very apparent that Wheeler is a simple man by the way Twain first describes him.

I found Simon Wheeler dozing comfortably by the barroom stove of the little old dilapidated tavern in the ancient mining camp of Boomerang, and I noticed that he was fat and bald-headed, and had an expression of winning gentleness and simplicity upon his tranquil countenance(60).

It is easy to see how different life is on the west coast compared to the east coast. In Wheeler’s tale about Jim Smiley the reader learns of a man who bets upon anything, “dog-fight…cat-fight…chicken-fight…why if there was two birds setting on a fence, he would bet you which one would fly first,” and “he most always come out [the] winner”(60). Back East, I’m sure there were gambling men around, but I don’t think that it would be as acceptable to gamble on as many things as Jim Smiley did out in California.

Being the simple man Wheeler is, his tale of Jim Smiley seemed to not have any rhyme or reason, other than to pass the time required to tell it. Twain it seemed felt as though Jim Smiley’s tale was told for a reason. The tale had moral value to it that Wheeler probably did not recognize. When “Simon Wheeler heard his name called from the front-yard, and got up to go and see what was wanted,”(63) Twain seized his only opportunity to leave… though Wheeler did say for him to, “Just sit where you are, stranger, and rest easy- I ain’t going to be gone a second”(63). It appeared as though Twain had heard one too many moral tales in his lifetime to have to sit through another agonizing ten minutes to hear another tale.

In keeping up with his intentions to be kind-hearted, Twain thinks, “that a continuation of the history of the enterprising vagabond Jim Smiley would [not] be likely to afford me much information concerning the Rev. Leonidas W. Smiley, and so I started away”(63). Proof that even ‘southern gentlemen’ will eventually get fed up with things that do not interest them, Twain curses Jim Smiley, “good-naturedly”, of course, and bids Wheeler good-day.

The simple social differences between the west coast and the east coast are quite apparent. In the West, gambling, lying, cheating, and rudeness are nothing to waste a second thought upon. But in the East, gambling, lying, cheating, and rudeness are things that are frowned upon. Even when the East invades the West (Twain coming to Boomerang), it’s good-will and cool temperament can disappear and reappear within a moment, as was evident with Twain’s reactions towards Simon Wheeler.

teachers question: Choose one text and analyze it by examining the author’s language and how meaning is constructed. You may also consider the history and culture of the period in your analysis.

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Out Tricked: Humor in The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County

May 7, 2019 by Essay Writer

A gambler is nothing but a man who makes his living out of hope.”(Bolitho). In “The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” the narrator introduces Simon Wheeler by asking for a man named Leonidas W. Smiley. Instead of indicating the narrator for the information that he asks for, Wheeler starts off with a tall tale about a man named Jim Smiley. Jim Smiley was a man who would bet on anything that eventually, he turned a frog into a pet for which he used to bet on until one day he realized his luck was not long lasting as he though.Twain’s use of descriptive sentences when relating to Wheeler’s story and as Twain clarifies it through his use of heavy dialect, and bad grammar. The comprehensive humor in the story is layered so that there is not just one, but two tales told, creating various humorous parts throughout the story. Twain illustrates the humorous personal characteristics of both characters, Simon Wheeler and Jim Smiley. The amusing story line that ends with one man out-tricking another. Jim Smiley had outwitted everyone throughout the story, but he was not as intelligent as he thought. In “The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” Mark Twain uses dialect, hyperbole and irony as key aspects of his writing style to create a humorous and intricate personal style.

To begin with, in “The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” Twain’s use of dialect creates an optimistic structure between the two main characters in the beginning of the story. For example, the use of dialect in this particular sentence maintenance a direct structure of how Twain’s style of writing is. “I have Lurking suspicious-it should be useless to me.” (Twain 680). It illustrates on what to expect on further on reading as he continues to tell the tale. In fact, Twain’s use of unexpected words adds much to the humor of the story as well. For instance, Simon relates, “Well, thish-yer Smiley had a yaller one-eyed cow that didn’t have no tail, only just a short stump like a bannanner and–” (Twain 683). Such language creates humorous images in the mind of the reader.

The use of authentic dialogue sums up the story and helps differentiate the characters. When Twain speaks, he uses excellence, grammatical English. When Simon Wheeler speaks, he uses the common dialect of the West. The dialect captures the local color and makes the characters more interesting and seem more amusing. Initially, in describing Simon Wheeler, the narrator uses hyperbole. Simon Wheeler certainly uses exaggerations in his description of his frog’s talents. For instance, as he says, “You never see a frog so modest and straight-for’ard as he was, for all he was so gifted.” (Twain 682). Meaning, all a frog needed was education, and he could do mostly anything. Another example of hyperbole is, Simon Wheeler demonstrating Jim Smiley and his gambling habit. “-if there was a dog fight, he’d bet on it; if there was a cat fight, he’d bet on it; if there was a chicken fight he’d bet on it; why,if there were two birds setting on a fence, he would bet which one would fly first-so he was too, and a goodman.” (Twain 681). He’s basically saying that Smiley would gamble on pretty much anything. The exaggeration here is that Jim Smiley would find a way to make a bet out of anything. It wouldn’t matter how foolish something was, he would see a way to turn the situation into a way to make money and satisfy his gambling urge. For this reason, the exaggeration here is used to reveal Jim Smiley’s character. That being said, this exaggeration continues to support Simon Wheeler’s character as noted. Hyperbole adds humor and comedic effects in Twain’s literary devices.

Incidentally, Mark Twain uses personification when describing the animals in the story. The frog is described as indifferent and Andrew Jackson, Jim Smiley’s dog, is described as proud, ornery, and determined. The author uses the same grammatical pattern to hold together long sentences when describing his characters. Mark Twain also uses allegory to personified some of the main characters involved in the story. The narrator implies that Andrew Jackson was a proud dog. Andrew Jackson is described as being determined and strong-willed as well, like the former President of the United States. The Fifteen-Minute Nag is the name given to Jim Smiley’s horse which is an old and rather delicate animal.

To resume, Mark Twain’s use of irony in “The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” generates the overall purpose of the tale being told in order for the reader to be maintained with a humorous thought of the narrator’s dialect. Mark Twain starts off the story with irony “…if I asked old Wheeler about him, it would remind him of his infamous Jim Smiley, and he would go to work and bore me nearly to death with some infernal reminiscence of him as long and as tedious as it should be useless to me.” (Twain 680). The irony forms a calmly humorous tone of the opening sentence there is nothing that leads us to expect being bored to death.The important irony is that Smiley knows he had the best jumping frog in the country. “ could wink he’d spring straight up and snake a fly off’n the counter there, and flop down on the floor ag’in as solid as a gob of mud..” (Twain 682). Smiley would bring the frog into town where he would lay bets with in hope of making a profit out of it.. Which indicates, Smiley is looking for a gullible person who will bet against him. Wheeler then specifies that Smiley’s frog is very ordinary looking. Smiley assures himself to win the bet he makes with the stranger, since Smiley goes out and personally catches a frog for the stranger to bet on. The irony in that is that the stranger is not such a Gullible person as he appears to be, the stranger fills Smiley’s frog, Daniel Webster, full of quail shot, and when the contest began, Daniel Webster could not get off the ground and Smiley loses the bet. Which makes this is a typical story of a trickster being out-tricked.

In his humorous story, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” Mark Twain makes a knowledgeable use of irony in separating the accurate from the inaccurate.In conclusion, In “The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” Mark Twain uses dialect, hyperbole and irony as key aspects of his writing style to create a humorous and intricate personal style. The use of descriptive sentences when relating to Wheeler’s story and as Twain clarifies it through his use of heavy dialect, and complex grammar. The comprehensive humor Twain uses in the story is layered out so that there is not just one, but two tales told, creating various humorous parts throughout the story.

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Vernacular Realism in Twain Works

March 22, 2019 by Essay Writer

Samuel Longhorn Clemens, under the pseudonym Mark Twain, uses southwestern dialects and local vernaculars to create realistic characters that accurately reflect the people and familiar scenes of mid-nineteenth century Southern American life. In the stories “The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” and “The Mysterious Stranger” Twain uses dialect and the local vernacular as a powerful instrument for deflating hypocrisy and pretension. Out of respect for the simple things, Twain chooses a plain style of clear writings that incorporates the most prevalent dialect and most readily understood style of speaking common to the South. Dialect is one of the elements of local color that Twain is famous for incorporating into his writings in the name of realism. Local color involves not only the language of an area but also the clothes, customs, and traditions of a particular region. Twain is famous for using the aspects of local color to lend a realistic air to his characters, making the reader feel that they can identify where the characters are from and how they must be thinking and feeling. In addition to the Southern dialect, Twain also incorporates the voice of the East, the voice of education, a symbol for the civilized yet naïve Easterner. The setting of “The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” is a mining town in the West. Because “Jumping Frog” is a framed narrative as well as a tall tale the initial story begins with a short introduction given by an Eastern narrator who announces he is looking for the boyhood companion of Leonidas W. Smiley. Although the Eastern narrator suspects the search for Smiley is nothing more than a ploy to allow Simon Wheeler to speak of “his infamous Jim Smiley” and “bore (him) to death with some exasperating reminiscence as long and as tedious as it should be useless” the narrator continues his search because he is complying “with the request of a friend” “who wrote . . . from the East” (Twain 1). The narrator uses words and phrases such as “In compliance with the request of a friend,” “hereto append the result,” “personage,” and “conjectured” in order to set himself apart from the Southern world the reader will soon be deeply immersed within. The choice of language for the narrator also helps to emphasize the frame built around the tall tale narrative. The use of Standard English by the narrator is intended to “indicate merited social, moral, and intellectual position” (Sewell 87). The narrator’s speech is free from grammatical errors of regionalisms, although this successfully draws attention to the narrator’s level of education and breeding, the narrator’s linguistic precision makes him less of a character and more of an opposite to Wheeler. While Wheeler’s “heavily shaded dialect . . . mark him as an occupant of the lowest rung of white society”, the narrator’s “correct and colorless speech guarantees his respectability” (87). The narrator finds Wheeler “dozing” in front of a “dilapidated tavern in the decayed mining camp of Angel’s” (Twain 1). The narrator goes on to describe Wheeler as “fat and bald, and had an expression of winning gentleness and simplicity upon his tranquil countenance” (1). In these phrases Twain is able to convey his idea of the Eastern view of the Southern people. Moreover, it is obvious the narrator does not have a positive opinion of the mining camp nor does he consider Wheeler to be an educated man of a similar social status (Kuhnert). The narrator goes on to describe his distaste for Wheeler and his lack of confidence in the information Wheeler is about to impart upon him by saying Wheeler “Backed me into a corner and blockaded me with his chair, and then sat down and reeled off the monotonous narrative” (Twain 1). As Wheeler takes control of the story the language changes from the more formal Standard English to Southern vernacular English filled with regionalisms. Wheeler’s monologue is riddled with colloquialisms and grammatical anomalies such as “fellar”, “the big flume warn’t finished when he first come to town”, “curiousest”, “so’s”, “uncommon lucky”, “come out winner”, “laying for”, “no solit’ry thing”, “Take ary side you please”, “you’d find him flush or you’d find him busted”, “reg’lar”, and “and so he was too”(2). By peppering nearly every sentence with Southern vernacular Twain exaggerates the vernacular spoken by Wheeler in order to devalue the background story told by the narrator and add value to the inner story told by Wheeler. In order to lend Wheeler credibility, Twain must convince his reader that Wheeler is an authentic Southerner. Twain presents Wheeler as the polar opposite of the Eastern narrator who began the story. By employing Americanisms and colloquialisms consciously, Twain brings the spoken language of America during its most American period into literature and adds validity to the people that spoke it. (Emberson 19). Twain give Wheeler Southern inflection dropping the final consonant from the end of most words to create a more realistic southern sound. Twain has Wheeler say words like “doin’” and “kep’”(Twain 4), dropping the initial consonant in words like “’peared” or “’em” (5) and dropping the middle of words like “Dan’l”. To reinforce the southern vernacular spoken by Wheeler, Twain chose words carefully and frequently substituted the letter ‘n’ for the word ‘and’, slurring the n into the preceding word. Some examples of the slurred in would be “better’n” and “tis” (4). Twain also uses alternate spellings of certain words that does not change the actual pronunciation of the word but instead adds a Southern intonation such as “ketched” and “bannanner” to continually remind the reader that “a Southerner talks music”(6). Twain was always aware that Southern “words may lack charm to the eye, in print, but they have it to the ear (Emberson 12). Twain wanted to make the reader aware of the unique Southern intonation in addition to the familiar words and phrases commonly linked to Southerners. Works CitedEmberson, Frances Guthrie, PhD. “Mark Twain’s Vocabulary: A General Survey.” The University of Missouri Studies. X (1935) 5-35.Kuhnert, Daniela. “Mark Twain: The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.” American West Literature. 03 Jan. 2001. Technsche University Chemnitz. 30 May, 2004 , Mark. “The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.” Kaplan, Justin., ed. The Signet Classic Book of Mark Twain’s Short Stories. New York: New American Library, 1985. 1-6.Sewell, David R. Mark Twain’s Languages: Discourse, Dialogue, and Linguistic Variety. Berkley: University of California Press, 1987.

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