Topics for Discussion

1. Some of the satiric effects and humor in the story are derived from a clash between the eastern and western cultures in the United States during the 19th century. What aspects of this cultural divide still exist?

2. At what point in the story does the reader realize that Wheeler has been spinning a tall tale?

3. What particularly American characteristics can you identify in the story? How would this story be different if it were not set in the United States?

4. Describe the persona of “Mark Twain” as presented in the story. Why do you think he would portray himself in this manner?

5. What effect does Twain’s use of colloquial speech have on the reader’s interpretation of the story?

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