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The Outcasts of Poker

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Casey Mercer

on 17 March 2015

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Transcript of The Outcasts of Poker

Regionalism can be found in the dialogue of the characters in the story. When John Oakhurst says, “I reckon they’re after somebody”, his use of the word reckon shows that the story is set in the west. It is also shown from the description of the landscape. “As the shadows crept up the mountain, slight breeze rocked the tops of the pine trees”
Regionalism
Summary
Four outcasts, John Oakhurst, Uncle Billy, Mother Shipton, and The Duchess, are exiled from Poker Flat. While on their way to Sandy Bar, they stop because three of them want to camp.
"The Innocent", Tom Simson and his young fiance, Piney Woods, meet them on their way to town. They stay with them overnight. Uncle Billy steals their mules and it has snowed overnight. Simson and Piney share their supply of food. The storm traps them there.
The women take care of Piney. They all make the most of their dire situation. Mother Shipton dies from sacrificing her food.
Simson goes to town for help.
Characters
Naturalism
Naturalism is a belief that no one has ultimate control over their lives. Environment and the shortcomings of a character is seen as one of the main factors that decide a person's fate.
Naturalism is a constant occurrence in this story. Uncle Billy steals horses and supplies, Oakhurst commits suicide after his gambling luck runs out, and the two prostitutes the duchess and Mother Shipton meet untimely deaths from the mountain snows.
By Casey, Caroline, Tyler, and Nick
The Outcasts of Poker Flat
Author cont.
Irony
Realism
Author: Bret Harte
-First American writer from the West Coast to gain an international reputation.

-He was instrumental in introducing frontier literature to eastern audiences.

-His stories established many of the basic characterics of the western genre: rough, sarcastic humor, rustic dialect, and character types such as good-natured gamblers, greedy bankers, and prosistutes with hearts of Gold.


Theme
The theme of the story is hypocrisy.
Hypocrisy is defined as a feigning to be what one is not or to believe what one does not; especially : the false assumption of an appearance of virtue or religion.

In The Outcasts of Poker Flat, the reader learns of the four outcasts of Poker Flat, John Oakhurst- a gambler, the Dutchess- a prostitute, Mother Shipton- a prostitute, and Uncle Billy- an alcoholic and a theft. The four outcasts are believed to be terrible people and the townspeople want them forbidden to return to Poker Flat. However, in reality, John Oakhurst, the Dutchess, and Mother Shipton are really goodhearted people. For example, Mother Shipton sacrificed her being for the rest of the outcasts. "'I'm going,' she said, in a voice of querulous weakness, 'but don't say anything about it. Don't waken the kids. Take the bundle from under my head and open it.' Mr. Oakhurst did so. It contained Mother Shipton's rations for the last week, untouched. 'Give 'em to the child,' she said, pointing to the sleeping Piney. 'You've starved yourself,' said the gambler. 'That's what they call it,' said the woman, querulously, as she lay down again, and, turning her face to the wall, passed quietly away." (Lines 257-263) This is just one example of one of the outcasts truly being a good person.
Mr. Oakhurst started out also.
The two women realize their apparent fate. Townspeople find them almost frozen.
They find a "loser card" with a note from Oakhurst explaining that his luck ran out and that he shot himself.

Irony cont.
-Some thought the best revenge would be to hang Oakhurst, that way they could have their revenge and the return of their lost wealth too.
-By the definition of outcast, these people had attitudes (i.e., revenge) and engaged in behaviors (i.e., hangings and exiles) that were rejected by society too.
-Therefore the central irony that underlies "The Outcasts of Poker Flat" is that the outcast's behavior and kindness toward each other proves that they have qualities of mind and heart that society honors--even if their professions are on the less respectable side--while the morally guiding secret committee of Poker Flat is comprised of base and vengeful individuals: on two counts, things are not as they seem.
Characters cont.
Tom Simson:
• “The Innocent”
• travels to Poker Flat with his lover, Piney
• joins the outcasts
• admires Oakhurst
“A horseman slowly ascended the trail. In the fresh, open fave of the new-comer Mr. Oakhurst recognized Tom Simson, otherwise known as ‘The Innocent’ of Sandy Bar. He had met him some months before over a ‘little game,’ and had, with perfect equanimity, won the entire fortune—amounting to some forty dollars—of that guileless youth.” (Lines 89-93)

Summary cont.
Characters cont.
Mother Shipton:
• prostitute
• banished from Poker Flat
• “undesirable”
• eldest of the travelers
• strong
• mother figure of the travelers
• truly goodhearted
• dies of starvation
“’I’m going,’ she said, in a voice of querulous weakness, ‘but don’t say anything about it. Don’t waken the kids. Take the bundle from under my head and open it.’ Mr. Oakhurst did so. It contained Mother Shipton’s rations for the last week, untouched. ‘Give ‘em to the child,’ she said.”
-this quote shows Mother Shipton’s kind ways which saved the other travelers.
John Oakhurst:
• main character of The Outcasts of Poker Flat
• professional gambler
• honest
• goodhearted person
• banished from Poker Flat because he wins so much money from the
townspeople.
• “undesirable”
• seen as a thief
• travels to Sandy Bar with Mother Shipton, The Duchess, and Uncle Billy
• commits suicide at the end of the story
“’I reckon they’re after somebody’, he reflected; ‘likely it’s me.’” (Line 9)
-this quote describes how even Oakhurst himself knows that others see him as a bad guy.
“’Tommy, you’re a good little man, but you can’t gamble worth a cent. Don’t try it over again.’ He then handed him his money back...”
-this quote shows how Oakhurst is truly a goodhearted person.
Characters cont.
Mother Shipton:
• prostitute
• banished from Poker Flat
• “undesirable”
• eldest of the travelers
• strong
• mother figure of the travelers
• truly goodhearted
• dies of starvation
“’I’m going,’ she said, in a voice of querulous weakness, ‘but don’t say anything about it. Don’t waken the kids. Take the bundle from under my head and open it.’ Mr. Oakhurst did so. It contained Mother Shipton’s rations for the last week, untouched. ‘Give ‘em to the child,’ she said.”
-this quote shows Mother Shipton’s kind ways which saved the other travelers.
The Duchess:
• prostitute
• banned from Poker Flat
• “undesirable”
• dies of hypothermia
“As the escort disappeared, their pent-up feelings found vent in a few hysterical tears from the Duchess...” (Lines 44-45)
Characters cont.
Uncle Billy:
• alcoholic
• believed to be a thief
• banned from Poker Flat
• “undesirable”
• leaves the other outcasts behind and takes the mules
• betrays the other outcasts
“’Uncle Billy,’ a suspected sluice-robber and confirmed drunkard.” (Line 39) -describes Uncle Billy
“But turning to where Uncle Billy had been lying, he found him gone. A suspicion leaped to his brain and a curse to his lips. He ran to the spot where the mules had been tethered; they were no longer there.” (Lines 146-147)
-Uncle Billy has betrayed the other outcasts and has shown that he truly is a thief.
The use of realism is portayed in the story through the townspeople's appearance and occupations. The four main characters are John Oakhurst, the Duchess, Mother Shipton and uncle billy. The story’s description of the characters is extremely detailed and demonstrates their social class. This is evident in the description of Oakhurst. “He returned to his pocket the handkerchief with which he had been whipping away the red dust of Poker Flat from his neat boots, and quietly discharged his mind of any further conjecture.”
-In The Outcasts Of Poker Flat, the outcasts are not what they seem to be and the "secret committee" is not what it seems to be.
-The central irony revolves around the definition of outcast and the nature of the "secret committee."
-One of the meanings of outcast is one who is rejected by society. Mr. Oakhurst and the prostitutes were rejected by society.
-The secret committee convened itself to sit in judgement on certain dishonesty, but only dishonesty of well established standards because that is all they could morally understand as their behavior clearly demonstrates.
-The committee was comprised of angry individuals who had gambled away their fortunes to Mr. Oakhurst and wanted revenge.
-Known for short fiction featuring miners, gamblers, and the other romantic figures of the California Gold Rush.
- Born in Albany, New York on August 25th, 1836.

-"The Outcasts of Poker Flat" has been made into several film versions.
Characters cont.
The Duchess:
• prostitute
• banned from Poker Flat
• “undesirable”
• dies of hypothermia
“As the escort disappeared, their pent-up feelings found vent in a few hysterical tears from the Duchess...” (Lines 44-45)
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