English 8166-001: Topics in American Regionalism
11 October 2014
The use of allegory in Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog
Portraying regions in America through literature is a challenge. Balancing the realities of the regions versus what the urbanized reader wants to read is a difficult task for writers. However, some writers have found very subtle ways of not only portraying the region, but also using sarcasm towards urbanities, showing their own opinions between the lines of their stories.
Mark Twain was one of these writers. The author became famous for "Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog" for appealing to two audiences: the urbanite and the regionalist reader. The elements used in the story can make both audiences laugh and understand it in different ways, depending on the background one has. The use of different characters to make the reader connect to the story is evident: the narrator, who is an urbanite, the outsider, trying to get an experience from the country; and Simon Wheeler, the local character, the one who is looked down on by the urbanites.
An interesting aspect of the story, and the main point to be observed in this paper, is how the author uses allegory and allusions in the story. The dog's and the frog's names have political connotations. The dog, Jackson, was named after the seventh president of the United States of America, who was the first democrat American president, a man of the people, who in the story is portrayed as a dog with no manners. The educated frog was named after one of the leading American statesmen, Daniel Webster, a man of power and knowledge, who was an attorney and known for being an excellent narrator. Webster also served as a senator and secretary...