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Bret Harte (1836—1902) author


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Outcasts of Poker Flat

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Story by Bret Harte, published in 1869 and reprinted in The Luck of Roaring Camp and Other Sketches (1870). It is a leading example of local-color fiction.

This study of moral contrasts tells of the exile from Poker Flat, a California mining camp of 1850 of the gambler John Oakhurst, two prostitutes known as “the Duchess” and “Mother Shipton,” and a drunken sluice-robber, “Uncle Billy.“ This group is joined by “The Innocent,” Tom Simson, and the young girl Piney, who are eloping. When all are trapped by the snow, Mother Shipton starves to save her rations for Piney, Oakhurst gives the one chance of safety to Tom by killing himself, and the Duchess pillows her head on Piney's breast as the two die together.

Subjects: Literature

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