1. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Short Story Club (12): The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County by Mark Twain

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by thirdwind, May 4, 2013.

    For this discussion we'll be reading "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" by Mark Twain. The story can be found here.

    Mark Twain is the pen name of Samuel Clemens, and he is famous for his novels The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I had to read both of those novels for my English classes (I think most US students are required to read Huck Finn at the very least), and that has been my only experience with Twain. I'm looking forward to seeing how he writes short stories.
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    This is a funny story. I immediately noticed a difference in how the narrator and Simon Wheeler speak. In fact, they're basically opposites. Simon Wheeler seems to from a lower/working class background, whereas the narrator, based on the language he uses, seems to be educated and from the upper class.

    I noticed early on that based on the story Simon tells, Jim Smiley and Rev. Smiley may not even be related. Jim is the opposite of what I expect a reverend to be like. Another example of opposite characters is Jim Smiley and the stranger with whom he has the frog jumping contest. Jim seems like a naive fool who relies on luck more than anything to win his bets. He's able to impress the people in the mining camp because they have little to no education and come from working class backgrounds. On the other hand, the stranger is a cunning guy who relies on quick thinking to win the bet.

    I also have to wonder why the narrator even came to a place like a mining camp. I get the impression that the narrator, someone who comes from the middle or upper class, came here looking for work. He vaguely refers to a friend from the East, and I have no idea why anyone would go to a mining camp to inquire about the well-being of a friend's friend. I think after the hearing the story about Jim Smiley, the narrator realized that the people of the camp turn to farfetched stories to pass the time and decided to leave.
     
  3. Suffering-is-Beauty
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    Suffering-is-Beauty Member

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    I think your were pretty accurate in your thoughts on the story thirdwind. I disagree on your last paragraph though. My thought on the story was that the narrator was perhaps sent to the mining camp to inquire, perhaps as he was passing through the area, for the sake of the friends humor. Almost like he knew just how strange the man was, and he thought it would be funny to get his friend caught up in the man's rant of farfetched stories. it's something i have done to people before.

    I have to make a comment, I have not read much Mark Twain as he was not on the reading material at my school, about the length of his sentences. This stood out to me right away, and made the story difficult to read. I was continually distracted by the thought 'how many commas is this guy going to use in a single sentence'. while I'm not saying his grammar was off, as he has far better grammar skills than me, I'm merely commenting on my percieved over abundance use of them.

    Also it goes to show that luck does not always prevail escpecially in the face of cunning. Perhaps the moral is that fools are lucky because their minds are not cunning. Luck is the handicap of ignorance and helps to even the odds.
     
  4. Eliemme
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    Eliemme Member

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    I thought that it was a pleasant reading, but I felt it wasn´t quite a "story"... it was mostly an exercise of creative writing where Twain "practices¨ a certain type of character or situation. I feel this text would make more sense on the side of a bigger plot.

    I like the way he manages, fairly quickly, to depict both Simon and Jim... I assume all of us could relate to the two characters fairly soon in the text.

    It is also remarkable the way Twain changes style between the narrator and Simon wheeler.

    It certainly was an amusing and fun read but not a fully fleshed story.
     
  5. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Does anyone have anything else to post? I was thinking of moving on to the next story tomorrow.
     
  6. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Leave this thread up - I got busy over the past few days and haven't had a chance to comment yet. I love Twain's language, though, when Wheeler starts talking.

    Go ahead and move on to the next story. I'll catch up!
     

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