The Outcasts of Poker Flat

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The Outcasts of Poker Flat is an excellent representation of color writing. The plot is short and rather underdeveloped, just as the characters are, which is typical of a local color story. The author portrays a rugged setting which is associated with the west during its gold-rush years, as well as stereotype the characters into ones you might expect to find in any Northern Californian settlement.

Our hero, the gambler, is steadfast, cool and smart while always the loner. He is everything that we would expect a true cowboy to be. Characters like this won the west, and the author caters to the romantic imagination of his readers by depicting the traditional rugged loner, but always a true gentleman.

The other characters are equally typical of color writing. The prostitute with a heart of gold, the drunk portrayed as silly and dishonest (ultimately he is the only true outcast of the group), and Mother Shipton embodies the vision that most east cost women had of west coast women at the time- lacking of style and manners. Also included in the story were Piney and the ‘Innocent', both of whom were very much in love and cast in a romantic, yet virginal light.

Ultimately, I would say that the Mother Shipton, Piney, the Innocent and the prostitute were typical, (not stereotypical), because their characters began to show true depth and emotion once they were trapped. The rest of the characters were more stereotypical, showing a lesser degree of depth and emotion.

Although the story is written to entertain someone who has never been to a settlement in the west, there is a good degree of realism in the story, although never quite reaching any deep truths about the people- especially those that were truly outcasts. I don't think that many of the type people who were thrown out of town would give up their last rations of food to save someone else. In all honesty they were survivors and would have fought for survival.
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