Outcasts Of Poker Flat

Topics: Gambling / Pages: 4 (1505 words) / Published: Apr 29th, 2001
Total Opposites In the short story "The Outcasts of Poker Flat" by Bret Harte, the author uses characters in the story that have very similar characteristics, except for one, "Uncle Billy." John Oakhurst is a big time gambler in Poker Flat. He took large sums of money from many people in town. The residents of Poker Flat were very upset with him always winning bets and all of their money. Out of all the people that are banned from Poker Flat, Oakhurst possesses the best qualities out of the group. The people of the town were attempting to clean up Poker Flat, but they really only rid themselves of one thief and three good hearted people that had some bad breaks. The other people that were forced to leave were "The Duchess" and "Mother Shipton", both of which were prostitutes, and "Uncle Billy" who was a gambler and a drunk and the most opposite character in the story from Oakhurst.

On the way to Sandy Beach, the group exiled from Poker Flat stopped at a mountain campsite. Here they came across two people making their way to Poker Flat from Sandy Bar. The two people were Tom Simson, "The Innocent," and Piney Woods. Oakhurst knew Tom because they had played cards a few months back. The encounter was a learning experience for Tom because Oakhurst "won [his] entire fortune," (Harte 609). Seeing that Tom was such an easy mark and had no business playing cards, Oakhurst took him aside and said "Tommy, you're a good little man, but you can't gamble worth a cent. Don't try it over again," (Harte 609). This suggests that there are no hostile feelings towards one another, and also the compassion of Oakhurst. Tom is similar to Oakhurst in the aspect that he is willing to do whatever it takes to save Piney, and the rest of the group. "There's one chance in a hundred," is what Oakhurst tells Tom about saving the group. Oakhurst contradicts himself when asks Tom to take a gamble to save the others. "Don't try to do it again," (Harte 609) is what Oakhurst initially tells Tom,

Cited: Harte, Bret. "The Outcasts of Poker Flat." The American Tradition in Literature. Vol 2, McGraw-Hill College. Bostom, 1999. Pages 606-614.

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