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Chapter 4 The Age of Realism (2)


Chapter 4 The Age of Realism (2) Local Colorism Mark Twain – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Chapter 4 The Age of Realism (2)

Chapter 4The Age of Realism (2)
  • Local Colorism
  • Mark Twain

  • Local colorism
  • Mark Twain

Assignments this Chapter
  • Define the term local colorism, classic plot
  • What are the features of Mark Twains writings?
  • Tell the differences among Howells, Henry James
    and Mark Twain in writing themes and in writing
  • Simply give the story the classic plot analysis
  • Answer the three questions from the Selected
    Readings on p 72.

Local colorism
  • Definition
  • Its representatives
  • Features of local colorism

Local colorism
  • Local color or regional literature is fiction and
    poetry that focuses on the characters, dialect,
    customs, topography, and other features
    particular to a specific region. Influenced by
    Southwestern and Down East humor, between the
    Civil War and the end of the nineteenth century
    this mode of writing became dominant in American

Its representatives
  • Bret Harte (1836-1902) is remembered as the
    author of adventurous stories such as "The Luck
    of Roaring Camp" and "The Outcasts of Poker
    Flat," set along the western mining frontier.

  • As the first great success in the local colorist
    school, Harte for a brief time was perhaps the
    best-known writer in America -- such was the
    appeal of his romantic version of the gun
    gun-slinging West. Outwardly realistic, he was
    one of the first to introduce low-life characters
    -- cunning gamblers, gaudy prostitutes, and
    uncouth robbers -- into serious literary works.

  • Hamlin Garland (p131)
  • Several women writers are remembered for their
    fine depictions of New England Mary Wilkins
    Freeman (1852-1930), Harriet Beecher Stowe
    (1811-1896), and especially Sarah Orne Jewett
    (1849-1909). Jewett's originality, exact
    observation of her Maine characters and setting,
    and sensitive style are best seen in her fine
    story "The White Heron" in Country of the Pointed
    Firs (1896). Harriet Beecher Stowe's local color
    works, especially The Pearl of Orr's Island
    (1862), depicting humble Maine fishing
    communities, greatly influenced Jewett.

  • All regions of the country celebrated themselves
    in writing influenced by local color. Some of it
    included social protest, especially toward the
    end of the century, when social inequality and
    economic hardship were particularly pressing
    issues. Racial injustice and inequality between
    the sexes appear in the works of southern writers
    such as George Washington Cable (1844-1925) and
    Kate Chopin (1851-1904), whose powerful novels
    set in Cajun/French Louisiana transcend the local
    color label.

Features of local colorism
  • Characteristics Setting
  • Characters
  • Narrator
  • Plots
  • Themes

General critical overview
  • Many critics have argued that this literary
    movement contributed to the reunification of the
    country after the Civil War and to the building
    of national identity toward the end of the
    nineteenth century. According to Brodhead,
    "regionalism's representation of vernacular
    cultures as enclaves of tradition insulated from
    larger cultural contact is palpably a fiction . .
    . its public function was not just to mourn lost
    cultures but to purvey a certain story of
    contemporary cultures and of the relations among
    them" (121).

  • In chronicling the nation's stories about its
    regions and mythical origins, local color fiction
    through its presence--and, later, its
    absence--contributed to the narrative of unified
    nationhood that late nineteenth-century America
    sought to construct.
  • A variation of this genre is the "plantation
    tradition" fiction of Thomas Nelson Page and

Characteristics Setting
  • The emphasis is frequently on nature and the
    limitations it imposes settings are frequently
    remote and inaccessible. The setting is integral
    to the story and may sometimes become a character
    in itself.

  • Local color stories tend to be concerned with the
    character of the district or region rather than
    with the individual characters may become
    character types, sometimes quaint or
    stereotypical. The characters are marked by their
    adherence to the old ways, by dialect, and by
    particular personality traits central to the
    region. In women's local color fiction, the
    heroines are often unmarried women or young

  • The narrator is typically an educated observer
    from the world beyond who learns something from
    the characters while preserving a sometimes
    sympathetic, sometimes ironic distance from them.
    The narrator serves as mediator between the rural
    folk of the tale and the urban audience to whom
    the tale is directed.

  • It has been said that "nothing happens" in local
    color stories by women authors, and often very
    little does happen. Stories may include lots of
    storytelling and revolve around the community and
    its rituals.

  • Many local color stories share an antipathy to
    change and a certain degree of nostalgia for an
    always-past golden age. A celebration of
    community and acceptance in the face of adversity
    characterizes women's local color fiction.
    Thematic tension or conflict between urban ways
    and old-fashioned rural values is often
    symbolized by the intrusion of an outsider or
    interloper who seeks something from the community.

Mark Twain
  • Landscape on Mississippi

(No Transcript)
  • Life experience
  • II. Major works
  • III. His literary features
  • The differences among Howells, Henry James and
    Mark Twain in writing themes and in writing
    technique (p133-p134)
  • V. The Appreciation of The Adventures of Huck
    Berry Finn (p135-p139)
  • VI. Understanding and analysis of his The
    Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County

His literary features
  • Twain's style, based on vigorous, realistic,
    colloquial American speech, gave American writers
    a new appreciation of their national voice. Twain
    was the first major author to come from the
    interior of the country, and he captured its
    distinctive, humorous slang and iconoclasm.
  • Samuel Clemens, better known by his pen name
    of Mark Twain, grew up in the Mississippi River
    frontier town of Hannibal, Missouri. Early
    19th-century American writers tended to be too
    flowery, sentimental, or ostentatious --
    partially because they were still trying to prove
    that they could write as elegantly as the

  • For Twain and other American writers of the late
    19th century, realism was not merely a literary
    technique It was a way of speaking truth and
    exploding worn-out conventions.
  • Thus it was profoundly liberating and
    potentially at odds with society. The most
    well-known example is Huck Finn, a poor boy who
    decides to follow the voice of his conscience and
    help a Negro slave escape to freedom, even though
    Huck thinks this means that he will be damned to
    hell for breaking the law.

  • Two major literary currents in 19th-century
    America merged in Mark Twain popular frontier
    humor and local color, or "regionalism."
  • These related literary approaches began in
    the 1830s -- and had even earlier roots in local
    oral traditions. In ragged frontier villages, on
    riverboats, in mining camps, and around cowboy
    campfires far from city amusements, storytelling
    flourished. Exaggeration, tall tales, incredible
    boasts, and comic workingmen heroes enlivened
    frontier literature. These humorous forms were
    found in many frontier regions -- in the "old
    Southwest" (the present-day inland South and the
    lower Midwest), the mining frontier, and the
    Pacific Coast. Each region had its colorful
    characters around whose stories.

  • The differences among Howells, Henry James and
    Mark Twain in writing themes and in writing
    technique (p133-p134)
  • V. The Appreciation of The Adventures of Huck
    Berry Finn (p135-p139)

Understanding and analysis of The Celebrated
Jumping Frog of Calaveras County
  • Introduction
  • Brief Plot Overview
  • Themes
  • Plot analysis
  • Characters analysis
  • Literary device
  • Symbols, Imagery, Allegory
  • Setting
  • Narrator Point of View
  • Tone
  • Writing Style

  • Written in 1865, this short story by Mark Twain
    was an overnight success and reprinted all over
    the country. In fact, this is the piece of
    writing that launched Mark Twain into fame (read
    more). "The Celebrated Jumping Frog" focuses on a
    narrator from the East suffering through a
    Western man's tall tale about a jumping frog. The
    story was made into an opera and performed at
    Indiana University in 1950. Today, the city of
    Angel's Camp, California, the setting for this
    short story, calls itself the "Home of the
    Jumping Frog."

Brief Plot Overview
  • A man from the East comes to a western mining
    town. At the request of a friend, the narrator
    speaks with Simon Wheeler in order to ask after a
    man named Leonidas W. Smiley. Instead of giving
    the narrator the information that he asks for,
    Wheeler launches into a tall tale about a man
    named Jim Smiley.

  • The story goes something like this Jim Smiley
    was a man who would bet on anything. He turned a
    frog into a pet and bet a stranger that his frog,
    Danl Webster, could jump higher than any other
    frog. While Smiley wasn't looking, the stranger
    filled Danl Webster with quail shot, and Smiley
    lost the bet. Before he could figure out what
    happened, the stranger disappeared with the 40
    he won by cheating.

  • Sick of the long-winded tale about Jim Smiley and
    his frog, the narrator tries to escape from
    Wheeler before he launches into another story.
    The narrator realizes that his friend probably
    intended for him to suffer through Wheeler's
    tedious tale.

  • Cunning and Cleverness
  • Competition
  • Lies and Deceit
  • Contrasting Regions

Cunning and Cleverness
  • Though Jim Smiley appears to be extraordinarily
    lucky, it is partly through his cunning and
    cleverness that he is able to win bets. He is
    finally outsmarted by a stranger, who beats him
    through cheating. Nonetheless, the story poses a
    moral distinction between honest and dishonest
    cleverness. It also shows that you dont
    necessarily have to be educated and well spoken
    to be clever, nor is a good education a defense
    against getting fooled.

  • Quote 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)

  • Thought The narrator realizes that his friend
    might have played a big joke on him. But its
    something of a mystery why his friend would want
    to bore him with Wheelers 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?

  • Jim Smiley is an incorrigible gambler. Though he
    may like the money he wins, it is also clear that
    he just enjoys the thrill of competition. He
    frequently bets on the underdog or bets on really
    awkward and tactless things (such as whether the
    parsons wife will recover from her illness or
    not). He also cultivates animals a horse, a
    dog, and then a frog that he can use in his
    various competitions.

  • Quote "but any way, he was the curiosest man
    about always ... betting on any thing that turned
    up you ever see, if he could get any body to bet
    on the other side and if he couldn't, he'd
    change sides. . . . Why, it never made no
    difference to him he would bet on any thing the
    dangdest feller. Parson Walker's wife laid very
    sick once, for a good while, and it seemed as if
    they warn's going to save her but one morning he
    come in, and Smiley asked how she was, and he
    said she was considerable better thank the Lord
    for his inftnit 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'llrisk two- and-a-half that she don't,
    any way." (para 4)

  • Thought Jim Smileys main characteristic is his
    love of or addiction for betting. He likes the
    competition, even though hes good-natured about
    it. His honesty shows that even pastimes as shady
    as gambling have codes of honor attached to them.
    Unfortunately, he can also be quite tactless,
    like when he bets that the parsons wife will
    stay sick.

Lies and Deceit
  • Smiley himself tends to be fairly honest, though
    it might be possible to argue that his animals
    allow him to practice deception, since each in
    turn looks like nothing special or even like it
    could never win. But that is not the same kind of
    deceit that the stranger uses when he fills Danl
    Webster with quail shot in order to win his bet.
    Smiley is righteously indignant, though he fails
    to capture the stranger and get his money back.

  • Quote Thish-yer Smiley had a mare the boys called
    her the ... fifteen- minute nag, but that was
    only in fun, you know, because, of course, she
    was faster than that and he used to win money on
    that horse, for all she was so slow and always
    had the asthma, or the distemper, or the
    consumption, or something of that kind. 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 amongst 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. (Para

  • Thought Part of the fun in the competition,
    perhaps, is Smileys ability to fool others into
    believing that hes a fool to engage in the bet
    that he makes. The animals he chooses to bet on
    dont ever look like much, but they usually pull
    through in the end. How does Smiley manage to
    find such extraordinary animals? Maybe this it
    part of the "tall tale" element of the story.

Contrasting Regions
  • Though the eastern and western United States
    arent specifically contrasted in this short
    story, we do see a contrast between the educated,
    refined narrator from the East (who also happens
    to be "green") and the uneducated but slick
    characters who populate Angels mining camp in
    the West. The characters in the West love a good
    tall tale, while the narrator appears to find it
    pointless and tedious, but maybe thats because
    he doesnt get it.

  • Quote I found Simon Wheeler dozing comfortably by
    the bar-room stove ... of the old, dilapidated
    tavern in the ancient mining camp of Angel's, and
    I noticed that he was fat and bald-headed, and
    had an expression of winning gentleness and
    simplicity upon his tranquil countenance. He
    roused up and gave me good-day. (Para 2)

  • Thought The educated, well-healed easterner
    describes the simple, rustic westerner in our
    first subtle contrast between American regions.
    By taking note of Wheelers "winning gentleness,"
    is the narrator being a generous guy, or is he
    just being condescending?

Plot analysis
  • Classic Plot Analysis ( a literary term)
  • Most good stories start with a fundamental
    list of ingredients the initial situation,
    conflict, complication, climax, suspense,
    denouement, and conclusion. Great writers
    sometimes shake up the recipe and add some spice.

Outline of Classic Plot Analysis
  • Initial Situation
  • Conflict
  • Complication
  • Climax
  • Suspense
  • Denouement
  • Conclusion

Initial Situation
  • The narrator enters the tavern in Angels mining
  • (A friend has asked the narrator to find Simon
    Wheeler and to ask him about the Reverend
    Leonidas W. Smiley. Simon Wheeler doesnt
    remember a Reverend Smiley but he does start to
    tell a tale about Jim Smiley, a man who loved to
    make bets.)

  • Smiley makes bets with an old horse and an old
  • (We learn from the start that Smiley loves to
    gamble, but more important perhaps, he likes to
    bet on animals that dont seem like they have a
    good chance of winning. He has an old asthmatic
    mare that doesnt look like it can win horse
    races but always manages to come out on top in
    the last few seconds of the race. He also has a
    dog named Andrew Jackson that doesnt look like
    he can win a fight and in fact loses fights
    until there is money on the table.)

  • Smiley starts to educate a frog so that it can
    beat other frogs at jumping.
  • (One day, Smiley starts educating a frog that
    he names Danl Webster. For three months, he does
    nothing but teach this frog how to jump higher
    and faster than any other frog. Then he puts the
    frog on the market, so to speak, and starts
    making bets.)

  • A stranger fills Smileys frog with quail shot
    and the frog loses.
  • (One day, Smiley bets a stranger forty bucks
    that his frog can beat any other frog. The
    stranger says he doesnt see anything special
    about Danl Webster. The bet is on but while
    Smiley goes to get the stranger a frog, the
    stranger fills Danl with quail shot. When the
    two frogs try to jump, Danl cant even move. The
    stranger takes the money and leaves.)

  • Smiley goes after the stranger but the stranger
    has already skipped town.
  • (When Smiley discovers what the cheater has
    done, that is, when Danl Webster burps out quail
    shot, he starts out after himbut hes too late.
    The stranger has disappeared with Smileys money.)

  • Wheeler is interrupted from his story-telling.
  • (When Wheeler is interrupted from finishing
    the story, he tells the narrator to wait. When he
    comes back, he tries to continue his tall tale
    but the narrator interrupts and says, not quite
    good-naturedly, that he needs to go. )

  • The narrator leaves the saloon. The narrator
    leaves, thinking his quest was fruitless

Characters analysis
  • Simon Wheeler
  • Though Simon Wheeler is bald and lazy, and
    seems simple, he may be cleverer than he looks.
    Hes certainly very aggressive in getting the
    narrator to listen to him. He uses tactics that
    sound like military maneuvers, such as
    "blockading" the narrator with a chair so that he
    cant leave. But then theres the question of why
    hes so desperate to have someone listen to him.
    Mining towns tended to be populated by a lot of
    single men with too much time on their hands.

  • (Answer to question 1 on p72) It has to get
    pretty lonely out there at the mining camp. One
    way of passing the time is to tell stories. Maybe
    he just wants to talk and doesnt have any shame
    about it. Whatever the reason is, he throws the
    narrator completely off guard. And he also talks
    real funny and ungrammatical-like.

  • The Narrator
  • The narrator is an educated man from the East
    who is traveling west. Along the way, he does a
    friend a favor by going to Angels mining camp to
    ask about the Rev. Leonidas W. Smiley. Instead of
    finding the information he is looking for, he is
    forced to endure Wheeler's long-winded tall tale
    about Jim Smiley, a man who loved gambling and
    who always won, at least until the day he was

  • (Answer to question2 on p72)Though the narrator
    is good-natured about it, he escapes as soon as
    he can, thinking to himself that there wasnt
    much point listening to such a tedious story that
    has nothing to do with the Rev. Smiley. In fact,
    at the beginning of the story we learn that the
    narrator is suspicious of his friend. He thinks
    maybe his friend was playing a trick on him so
    that he would have to listen to Wheelers endless

  • This, of course, raises some questions about our
    dear narrators judgment. If he doesnt trust his
    friend, why are they friends? Is it just a
    good-natured trick, like a prank? Also, the
    narrator doesnt seem to have a lot of patience
    or good manners when Wheeler starts on his last
    story, the narrator gets frustrated and rushes
    out, rather than finding a way to exit politely.

Literary device
  • Symbols, Imagery, Allegory
  • Andrew Jackson and Danl Webster
  • The names for the dog and the "educated" frog
  • hint at some possible political undertones. The
    dog, which didnt look like much but was feisty
    when it came to fighting, was named for Andrew
    Jackson, a westerner and the seventh president of
    the United States. He was a man of the people and
    believed in democracy for all. Daniel Webster was
    an attorney who became one of the leading
    American statesmen, serving as a senator and
    Secretary of State.

  • He ran unsuccessfully for president three times
    and was known for being a very good narrator. In
    this short story, a common frog with no name
    beats the educated frog (Danl Webster). The
    moral of the tale could be that the uneducated,
    common frog was only able to beat the educated
    frog through cheating. Alternatively, given
    Websters politics, it might be possible read
    more deeply into this and suggest that the tale
    is subversively arguing for equality for all

  • Angels Camp, California, mid-19th century
  • Angel's Camp is a gold mining community in
    the mid-19th century that the narrator claims to
    have visited to find Simon Wheeler. Like any
    mining town in the West, it was populated
    primarily by men, many of them looking for their
    fortune. As something of a frontier town, it
    would probably seem to be full of loud, uncouth,
    and uneducated people compared to the more
    genteel East.

Narrator Point of View
  • First Person
  • Through a frame narrative, the narrator
    (clearly an educated man from the East) presents
    the story of Jim Smiley, told in Simon Wheelers
    uneducated dialect. This is the main device that
    Twain uses to present the contrast between East
    and West educated vs. uneducated, refined vs.

  • Disparaging, disbelieving
  • Though the content suggests the opposite of
    the tone, the attitude of the narrator toward the
    subject matter is one of disbelief that his time
    has been wasted in such a way. Hes annoyed that
    he has had to listen to such a stupid tale (about
    Dan'l Webster) from a man who seems to take it so
    seriously. His effort to reproduce Wheelers
    ungrammatical dialect feels slightly mocking.
    (answer to question 3 on p72)

Writing Style
  • Clever and Colloquial
  • This story is told with a frame narrative. The
    narrator uses educated diction, and explains how
    absurd Simon Wheeler is. Simon Wheeler narrates
    the inside story, and he uses an uneducated
    vernacular to tell his tall tales about Smiley
    and Dan'l Webster.

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