The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County by Mark Twain was one of his first successes as a writer and brought him national attention. The story has since been published in a number of versions, including Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog and The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calavera County.
Mark Twain’s “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County”
This short story by American writer Mark Twain was a hit when it first appeared in 1865. Twain used familiar storytelling conventions and references to popular figures of the day in order to create a story that evoked the American West. He also adopted an American folktale known as the tall tale of the American southwest, a style that was already popular at the time. Initially, the story focused on a jumping grasshopper. The story was widely republished in 1867.
This short story, which is part of the famous Short Stories Collection, uses an “as-told-to” structure in its construction. During this time, the American Southwest was being settled, and the Industrial Revolution had just begun to bring machinery and manpower to eastern areas of the country. However, the Western United States still relied on the land as its main source of economic development. Much of the land was being used to raise cattle. There was also a large number of battles between Native American tribes and the U.S. government.
While it may seem that this story is all about a frog with a high opinion of American civilization, the novel has many other facets that are worth exploring. The story is a classic example of American literature as it showcases the differences between the Eastern and Western parts of the country. While Easterners were often considered more refined and civilized, the Westerners were seen as crude and naive.
Jim Smiley’s jumping frog
Mark Twain’s “Jumping Frog of Calaveras County Review” was originally titled “The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.” Twain retitled it “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calavera County and Other Stories” and added a collection of 27 illustrations from various publications. The book also contains contemporary wood engravings depicting the life of a miner.
The story is about a mining town in California, where a man named Jim Smiley lived. He was a successful gambler who never cheated in his bets, and he used this honesty to train some unlikely animals to become champions. In addition to his gambling, he would also gamble with his neighbors and random strangers in order to make money. At one point, a stranger would ask him to challenge him to a frog-jumping contest.
In the story, Smiley was a gambler, and would bet money on anything. So, he caught a jumping frog named Dan’l Webster and trained it for three months. He then showed it to a stranger. He said he’d take the bet if he had a frog like his. Dan’l Webster did jump, but the stranger was not happy.
Jim Smiley’s jumping frog, Dan’l Webster, was so well trained that he could even outjump other frogs in Calaveras County. The frog’s training earned him bets with strangers, and Smiley used Dan’l as a prop in his bets. In one instance, a stranger bet forty dollars on Dan’l Webster’s jumping ability, and Smiley won. The frog’s jump is so impressive that the stranger tries to spoon quail-shot into the frog’s mouth.
Dan’l Webster’s jumping frog
A man named Jim Smiley claims that he has trained his frog, Dan’l Webster, to jump. He keeps the frog in a box and often bets that Dan’l will outjump any other frog in Calaveras County. A strange man shows up in town and wants to challenge Jim’s bet. He fills Dan’l with quail-shot and bets that he can outjump him.
The frog’s name is derived from the names of several famous people, including a statesman from New England, Dan’l Webster. Smiley may have chosen the name out of pride, as Dan’l Webster was a senator and a secretary of state. However, he may have picked it as a joke because Dan’l Webster lost.
While the frog was not quite a literary genius, it is still a folk hero in Calaveras County. In fact, frog jumping contests are still a popular event at the county fair. However, the frogs that Twain described in Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County are extinct in the Central Valley and are extinct in the Sierra range.
While Smiley was training the frog to jump higher, Dan’l Webster was also trained to catch any fly. In fact, his frog could catch a fly on the bar counter.