The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County
Cunning and Cleverness Quotes
How we cite our 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 nearly to death with some infernal reminiscence of him as long and tedious as it should be useless to me. If that was the design, it certainly succeeded. (Para 1)
The narrator realizes that his friend might have played a big joke on him. But it’s something of a mystery why his friend would want to bore him with Wheeler’s stories. Does the friend think that maybe the narrator, Mr. Fancy Eastern Narrator, has something to learn from Wheeler? Or is the friend just a jerk, which might cause us to wonder: why are they friends in the first place?
Simon Wheeler backed me into a corner and blockaded me there with his chair, and then sat me down and reeled off the monotonous narrative which follows this paragraph. 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. To me, the spectacle of a man drifting serenely along through such a queer yarn without ever smiling, was exquisitely absurd. (para 2).
Wheeler is surprisingly aggressive about holding his audience captive. He even goes so far as to "blockade" the narrator with his chair, which sounds like a military tactic. Though the narrator doesn’t yet realize it, Wheeler is about to embark on a long yarn. His earnest expression belies his underlying cunning and cleverness, his ability to hold the narrator’s attention throughout his absurd tale.
"He give Smiley a look, as much as to say his heart was broke, and it was his fault, for putting up a dog that hadn't no hind legs for him to take bolt of, which was his main dependence in a fight, and then he limped off a piece and laid down and died. It was a good pup, was that Andrew Jackson, and would have made a name for hisself if he'd lived, for the stuff was in him, and he had genius I know it, because he hadn't had no opportunities to speak of, and it don't stand to reason that a dog could make such a fight as he could under them circumstances, if he hadn't no talent. It always makes me feel sorry when I think of that last fight of his'n, and the way it turned out." (para 6)
Smiley cultivates pets who, like him, love the thrill of beating the competition. His dog, Andrew Jackson, would fool people into thinking he wasn’t going to win – until there was actual money on the table, and then he’d pull out his hind-legs trick and beat the other dog. Although Andrew is definitely a one-trick wonder, there’s a certainly nobility in his cleverness and stubborn determination and refusal to give up until all hope is lost.