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The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County

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“The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” by Mark Twain is one of the most famous works of the world literature. Therefore, from its birth to the present day it is in the center of attention of critics and scientists. Their analysis is based on both political and historical aspects of the work. Also the protagonist of the Wheeler’s story, Jim Smiley, is an interesting character. However, for some reason the analysis of the narrator’s stories is very superficial. This is probably due to the fact that many critics believe that Wheeler is a boring narrator. Wheeler is not a typical or standard narrator. So, why don’t we know what kind of person he is and what place in his life do the stories occupy? After all, we see that he is a clever and fascinating story-teller. Story telling is not just his hobby, but a professional habit. However, it is not clear who takes the benefit from it, the narrator or the listener?

Judging from the description, Wheeler is a lonely unrealized man. “I found Simon Wheeler dozing comfortably by the bar-room stove of the old, dilapidated tavern in the ancient mining camp ...” (Twain, 1867). This means that he is never in hurry and the bar became his second home. Therefore, as every vagrant, he does not want to show that he spends his time in a bar without a reason. Thus, any time he is ready to show his abilities of the brilliant narrator. However, at the same time it is very important for him that a person who was going to listen to him would not run away. “Simon Wheeler backed me into a corner and blockaded me there with his chair ...” (Twain, 1867). He did it in a very skillful manner; therefore, we can conclude that it was not the first time when he forced a person to listen to his stories.

Wheeler is not interested to talk to the point: "If one can see over Simon Wheeler's dead pan face and monotonous tone, many things in his story are obviously impossible feats told as part of a tall tale” (Phalen, 2010). It is important to the process. We see the tone with which he starts the story about Smiley: “He never smiled, he never frowned, he never changed his voice from the gentle-flowing key to which he tuned the 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 any thing 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” (Twain, 1867). He was not interested in what a person wants to hear. He was fascinated by himself and his ability to present the story of James Smiley.

The above helps us to draw a conclusion that Wheeler is selfish and ill-bred man. To prove that, it can be said that he was not interested in the point of view of others. It is his own game and he focuses on his own thoughts and ideas. For him it seems perfect. When someone is calling for him, he says: “Just set where you are, stranger, and rest easy I an't going to be gone a second” (Twain, 1867). He never apologized, never asked his companion whether he/she was tired. He commanded the companion to sit still and wait for him. He needed people to crowd around him in order to show them his genuine skills.

Wheeler is convinced that he is a perfect story-teller, but his stories are useless because they are meaningless. Wheeler does not understand this. As soon as he sees the potential audience, he is ready to tell the story. But these stories are unimportant for anyone except him.

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