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“What Stumped the Blue Jays” by Mark Twain


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“What Stumped the Blue Jays,” by Mark Twain, is about animals’ ability to speak, converse, and act like humans—mainly the blue jays. The blue jays, as Mark Twain claims, are like humans: they can speak, out-swear miners, have good grammar, and have a good sense of humor. One day, a blue jay happened to come across a “hole,” which was a part of an abandoned house. It looked at the hole and put an acorn in the “hole”; however, to its surprise, the acorn was gone. The blue jay, curious, decided to put more acorns in the hole. Nevertheless, he could not see any acorns. He was stumped and started swearing. Eventually, another blue jay comes along and he, too, is stumped. They call more blue jays; eventually, flocks of blue jays are present. They all speculate and theories are created; each one has a different explanation for the absence of the acorns. The blue jays search everything, including the house. Eventually, opens the door to the house, and sees all of the acorns inside, on the floor. Since the mystery is solved, all of the blue jays start laughing.

The blue jays’ situation, combined with their similarities to people, make this story extremely humorous. In the story, the blue jays are very human: they think and act like humans. Blue jays, according to Twain, like to gossip and are never at a loss for words. In the story, they are trying to figure out how to solve a complicated problem which would seem trivial and very insignificant to people. Nevertheless, they are confounded by the acorns’ disappearance in the “never-ending hole”. This problem they are trying to solve and how they approach the problem—one swears, others theorize, and others search—invokes humor because of their approach is very human-like. ( When people are approached by certain difficult problems in life that are hard to solve, some people quit and become angry, others wonder how to solve the problem and another group of people searches for the actual reason and explanation to the problem.



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