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Themes

Though the eastern and western United States aren’t 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 Angel’s 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 that’s because he doesn’t get it.

Questions About Contrasting Regions

  1. Compare and contrast the narrator (who is from the East) with the other characters – Simon Wheeler and Jim Smiley. What are the similarities and differences, and what do they have to do with regional distinctions?
  2. Does the use of Andrew Jackson and Dan'l Webster as nicknames suggest a commentary upon the two regions and their characteristics? Why or why not?
  3. Are the regional differences in the story presented as a caricature, or are they realistic?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Although the narrator is more educated and apparently has more advantages than Simon Wheeler, the lesson of the tall tale shows us that even people who have been highly trained can be defeated when removed from their proper environment.

Although the story seems to poke fun at easterners, it actually makes no judgment on the question of East vs. West, as we can see from the fact that we are meant to root for the frog named after Daniel Webster, a famous senator from New England.

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