The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County

by

Mark Twain

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The unnamed narrator, a man visiting from the East, recounts Simon Wheeler’s tall tale about Jim Smiley. He visits the small mining town called Angel Camp at the request of a friend, who told the narrator to locate a man named Simon Wheeler and ask him about Leonidas W. Smiley. When the narrator does so, Wheeler embarks on an entirely unrelated tale about a similarly named man called Jim Smiley. The narrator finds this tale painfully boring, but his commitment to preserving Wheeler’s story as authentically as possible—he even phonetically spells out Wheeler’s accent—shows his interest in capturing the distinctively Western mode of storytelling. The juxtaposition of the stuffy, highly educated narrator and the coarse, unrefined Wheeler emphasizes the regional differences between the Eastern and Western United States.

Narrator Quotes in The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County

The The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County quotes below are all either spoken by Narrator or refer to Narrator. 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:
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The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County PDF

Narrator Character Timeline in The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County

The timeline below shows where the character Narrator 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
Following the suggestion of a friend, the unnamed narrator meets a man named Simon Wheeler to ask Wheeler about another man named Leonidas W.... (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... (full context)
Regional Differences Theme Icon
...looks like a simple but content man. As Wheeler begins telling his story to the narrator, “He never smiled, he never frowned, he never changed his voice from the gentle-flowing key... (full context)
Integrity and Community Theme Icon
...frog in action himself—once, when Smiley was in the same tavern that Wheeler and the narrator are currently in, Smiley shouted, “Flies, Dan’l, flies!” The frog leapt from the floor, snaked... (full context)
Regional Differences Theme Icon
...Simon Wheeler hears someone calling his name in front of the tavern. He asks the narrator to wait for him, and he leaves briefly to see who is looking for him.... (full context)