The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County

by

Mark Twain

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Celebrated Jumping Frog can help.

Jim Smiley Character Analysis

Simon Wheeler tells the unnamed narrator about Jim Smiley, an enthusiastic gambler who once lived in the mining town of Angel’s Camp in California. An honest and hardworking man, Smiley never cheats in his bets and instead spends his efforts training his weak-looking animals—including his mare, his bulldog named Andrew Jackson, and his frog named Dan’l Webster—to be unlikely champions. Although he presumably makes his living betting with his neighbors and others who pass through town, Smiley’s integrity allows him to be an accepted member of the community. However, Smiley’s integrity eventually leads to his downfall. When a stranger passes through town, Smiley is eager to challenge the man to a frog-jumping competition. The stranger accepts, but when Smiley isn’t looking, he fills Webster with quail-shot to weigh him down, causing Webster to lose the competition and thereby earning the stranger Smiley’s 40 dollars.

Jim Smiley Quotes in The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County

The The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County quotes below are all either spoken by Jim Smiley or refer to Jim Smiley. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Regional Differences Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Bantam Dell edition of The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County published in 1957.
The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County Quotes

I have a lurking suspicion that Leonidas W. Smiley is a myth; that my friend never knew such a personage; and that he 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 to death with some exasperating reminiscence of him as long and as tedious as it should be useless to me.

Related Characters: Narrator (speaker), Jim Smiley, Simon Wheeler, Leonidas W. Smiley
Page Number: 1
Explanation and Analysis:

He never smiled, he never frowned, he never changed his voice from the gentle-flowing key to which he tuned his initial sentence, he never betrayed the slightest suspicion of enthusiasm; but all through the interminable narrative there ran a vein of impressive earnestness and sincerity, which showed me plainly that, so far from his imagining that there was anything ridiculous or funny about his story, he regarded it as a really important matter, and admired its two heroes as men of transcendent genius in finesse.

Related Characters: Narrator (speaker), Jim Smiley, Simon Wheeler
Page Number: 2
Explanation and Analysis:

“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.”

Related Characters: Simon Wheeler (speaker), Jim Smiley, Narrator
Page Number: 2
Explanation and Analysis:

“Parson Walker's wife laid very sick once, for a good while, and it seemed as if they warn't going to save her; but one morning he come in, and Smiley up and asked him how she was, and he said she was considerable better-thank the Lord for his infinite mercy and coming on so smart that with the blessing of providence she'd get well yet; and Smiley, before he thought, says, ‘Well, I'll resk two-and-a-half she don't anyway.'”

Related Characters: Simon Wheeler (speaker), Jim Smiley, Narrator, The Parson’s Wife
Page Number: 3
Explanation and Analysis:

“They used to give her two or three hundred yards, start, and then pass her under way; but always at the fag end of the race she'd get excited and desperate like, and come cavorting and straddling up, and scattering her legs around limber, sometimes in the air, and sometimes out to one side among the fences, and kicking up m-o-r-e dust and raising m-o-r-e racket with her coughing and sneezing and blowing her nose-and always fetch up at the stand just about a neck ahead as near as you could cipher it down.”

Related Characters: Simon Wheeler (speaker), Jim Smiley, Narrator, The Mare
Page Number: 3
Explanation and Analysis:

“But as soon as money was up on him he was a different dog; his under-jaw'd begin to stick out like the fo'castle of a steamboat, and his teeth would uncover and shine like the furnaces.”

Related Characters: Simon Wheeler (speaker), Jim Smiley, Narrator
Related Symbols: Smiley’s Pets’ Names
Page Number: 3
Explanation and Analysis:

“He ketched a frog one day, and took him home, and said he cal'lated to educate him; and so he never done nothing for three months but set in his back yard and learn that frog to jump.”

Related Characters: Simon Wheeler (speaker), Jim Smiley, Narrator
Related Symbols: Smiley’s Pets’ Names
Page Number: 4
Explanation and Analysis:

“Smiley said all a frog wanted was education, and he could do 'most anything—and I believe him.”

Related Characters: Simon Wheeler (speaker), Jim Smiley, Narrator
Related Symbols: Smiley’s Pets’ Names
Page Number: 4
Explanation and Analysis:

“And the feller studied a minute, and then says, kinder sad-like, ‘Well, I'm only a stranger here, and I ain’t got no frog; but if I had a frog, I'd bet you.'”

Related Characters: Simon Wheeler (speaker), The Stranger (speaker), Jim Smiley, Narrator
Page Number: 5
Explanation and Analysis:

“[…] the new frog hopped off lively, but Dan'l give a heave, and hysted up his shoulders—so—like a Frenchman, but it warn't no use—he couldn't budge; he was planted as solid as a church, and he couldn't no more stir than if he was anchored out.”

Related Characters: Simon Wheeler (speaker), Jim Smiley, Narrator, The Stranger
Related Symbols: Smiley’s Pets’ Names
Page Number: 6
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Celebrated Jumping Frog LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County PDF

Jim Smiley Character Timeline in The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County

The timeline below shows where the character Jim Smiley appears in The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County
Regional Differences Theme Icon
...meets a man named Simon Wheeler to ask Wheeler about another man named Leonidas W. Smiley. The narrator, a man hailing from the East, finds Wheeler “dozing comfortably by the barroom... (full context)
Regional Differences Theme Icon
When the unnamed narrator asks Simon Wheeler about Leonidas W. Smiley, Wheeler instead launches into a long story about a different man named Jim Smiley. The... (full context)
Integrity and Community Theme Icon
Simon Wheeler claims that Jim Smiley was the “curiousest man,” who was willing to bet on anything. He loved gambling so... (full context)
Integrity and Community Theme Icon
Jim Smiley was so willing to place bets on anything that he even made some insensitive ones... (full context)
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
Wheeler recounts how Smiley once trained an unassuming mare to be a racing horse. The mare looked very sickly... (full context)
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
Jim Smiley also owned and trained a small bulldog named Andrew Jackson. Jackson didn’t look like a... (full context)
Integrity and Community Theme Icon
Jim Smiley owned and trained many types of animals for his bets, including rat-terriers, chicken-cocks, and tomcats.... (full context)
Integrity and Community Theme Icon
For three months, Jim Smiley did nothing but sit in his backyard and teach his pet frog, Dan’l Webster, how... (full context)
Integrity and Community Theme Icon
...been everywhere all said he laid over any frog that ever they see,” and Jim Smiley was very proud of his frog’s accomplishments. (full context)
Integrity and Community Theme Icon
One day, a stranger came to town. Jim Smiley had brought Dan’l Webster downtown in a box in order to find someone to place... (full context)
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
The stranger took the box holding Dan’l Webster from Jim Smiley and carefully analyzed the frog. Upon returning the box to Smiley, he declared that he... (full context)
Integrity and Community Theme Icon
Considering Jim Smiley’s bet that his frog, Dan’l Webster, could outjump any frog in the county, the stranger... (full context)
Integrity and Community Theme Icon
...hearing that the stranger would accept the bet if only he had a frog, Jim Smiley hastily decided to go find him a frog in the swamp. He left the box... (full context)
Integrity and Community Theme Icon
While Jim Smiley was off catching a frog in the muddy swamp, the stranger sat with the box... (full context)
Integrity and Community Theme Icon
Jim Smiley returned from the swamp with another frog in hand for the stranger to use in... (full context)
Integrity and Community Theme Icon
After accepting the winnings from the bet from Jim Smiley, the stranger left. As he exited through the door, he jerked his thumb over his... (full context)
Integrity and Community Theme Icon
Bewildered by Dan’l Webster’s behavior, Jim Smiley investigated what could be the matter with him. When Smiley picked up Webster, he was... (full context)
Regional Differences Theme Icon
...who is looking for him. Rather than wait to hear more about a certain Jim Smiley, who is not the Leonidas W. Smiley that the narrator was enquiring after, the narrator... (full context)