Outcasts of Poker Flat Summary & Study Guide

They passed the stormy night holding each other close. By the third day out from Poker Flat, the snow had gotten deep. At midnight on the tenth day, Mother Shipton called Oakhurst to her side. He handed in his cards on the seventh of December, the same year. This section contains words approx.

Style and Technique

Navigation menu

Now, an American story from the Voice of America. Here is Jim Tedder. John Oakhurst was a gambler. He had lived in the small western town of Poker Flat for only a short time. He had defeated many people at cards. He had also won a lot of their money. For that reason alone, he was not well liked.

An picture of men at a bar used with one of Bret Harte's stories in Harper's magazine in On the morning of November twenty-third, eighteen fifty, he saw some men talking as he walked down the main street of town.

As he came near, they got quiet. They thought Poker Flat would be a better place to live if those people were gone. Besides Oakhurst, two women of low morals were led to the edge of town. He was known to drink too much. Some people thought that he had also stolen some gold. They had no proof. But that did not matter. Uncle Billy was just no good, and he had to go. So, the four of them slowly rode out of town. Mother Shipton and Uncle Billy cursed.

But John Oakhurst rode in silence. He thought all of life was a gamble. He had just run into some bad luck. The outcasts were headed for Sandy Bar, a camp not too far away. But it was high up in the cold Sierra Mountains, and the path was anything but smooth. Around noon, Mother Shipton became so tired she fell off her horse. She said that was as far as she was going today. Oakhurst tried to make them move on because they had no food or fuel. But the three would not listen.

Instead they began to drink alcohol that Uncle Billy had hidden. Soon they were quiet and asleep. Oakhurst did not drink. He stood nearby and watched them. He began to think about his life and about how lonely he was. Yet he was stronger than his three companions. He could have left them there and set off alone. But he did not. The gambler knew Tom.

They had once played cards and Oakhurst had won. But after the game, he told young Tom that he was too easy to beat. And he gave him back his money. Tom said Oakhurst would be his friend for life. Tom was not alone. From behind a tree came his new wife, a girl named Piney Woods.

Her father had not wanted her to marry Tom. So they had run away. Tom told Oakhurst that he had a little food. He also showed him an old log house just off the path.

Years of harsh weather had nearly ruined it. But it was all they had, and it would have to do. The women could spend the night in there. The men would make a fire and sleep on the ground by the door.

The night seemed to pass quickly. But the weather became colder. The wind increased, and it began to snow. Oakhurst had a bad feeling. He turned to where Uncle Billy had slept, and found him gone.

He had left the others and even taken their horses. Once the outcasts are escorted out of town and heading to the next town, Sandy Bar, John Oakhurst had already began to realize that their journey was going to be long and difficult with four of them traveling.

When The Duchess halted their travels demanding that they stop and set up camp for the evening, Mr. Oakhurst calmly informed his fellow travelers that it was not in their best interest to stop traveling so early. As readers, knowing that he has some concern of the situation taking place, we are thrown off by his patience and consideration for the rest of his party.

If the narrator would have described his concern with more aggression and emotion we would probably gain even more concern for the situation the characters are encountering. All of the traveling characters were to sleep at the established camp and continue on their own ways in the morning. The narrator describes that Mr. Oakhurst is a light sleeper, and that he awoke cold to freshly fallen snow. Immediately after we get a short glimpse of the worry in Mr.

Oakhurst back to the fire with his usual calm. Oakhurst knows that Uncle Billy left the camp and was never coming back, he kept the truth to himself as to not upset the others. The calm and collected personality is not only present in Mr.

Oakhurst but also in other characters as well, Tom Simson is also portrayed as keeping calm. Once they have all noticed the snow, and that it was not going to stop, Tom thinks positively and has a basic plan developed, they stay and camp a week and then continue traveling once the snow melts.

The rest of the party even hides their concern and worry, and make entertainment for themselves by singing and conversing around the fire. Once the characters had been at camp a week, come and gone, the snow had still not subsided but had grown closer around them and towered high above them.

Harte diffuses the concern during this situation by reinstating Mr. Oakhurst settled himself coolly to the losing game before him. Oakhurst is remaining calm and accepting the fate that has been drawn upon him and the others.

Accessibility links