Outcasts Poker Flat Summary Sparknotes

The story is located in Poker Flat, a small Californian community. Certain inhabitants of Poker Flat feel that the community is going down the hill. They have lost a lot of money and the morals of people are thought to be sinking. Consequently a secret committee is elected. This committee decides who will be killed and who expatriated. On November 23, 1850 four people are exiled. The party consists of Duchess, a saloon girl; Mother Shipton, a madam; Uncle Billy, a local drunk and thief; and John Oakhurst, a poker player, who won a lot of money from the people sitting on the secret committee. The four characters get together and leave Poker Flat, heading for a one day’s journey to a nearby camp. After hours of traveling, Oakhurst’s companions get tired, and despite his remonstrances they decide to stop and rest.

Meanwhile, Oakhurst encounters young runaway couple, Piney Woods and Tom Simons, heading to Poker Flat to get married. Tom Simons, also called “The Innocent” has met Oakhurst before. They played Poker together, and Oakhurst won a great deal of money from him. Afterwards, he told Tom never to play poker again, and returned him his money. As a result of this Tom feels positively towards Oakhurst. He is thrilled to see him, and the young couple decides to spent some time with the group, obviously unaware of the fact that they were exiled for being immoral. Tom leads the group to an old cabin that he had found, and they spend the night. Oakhurst wakes up in the early morning and notices it started to snow. Furthermore, he discovers that Uncle Billy has been up long before him and now is gone with all their horses and mules. The rest of the group has no other choice than to wait for ten days until they run out of provisions. As the days go by, Mother Shipton dies of starvation, as she tries to save food for ‘the child’ - Piney. Oakhurst decides that Tom has to go to get some help and he fixes him some snow shoes. Then he tells the two women he will accompany Tom ‘as far as the canyon’. Duchess and Piney stay in the cabin and when their fire dies they fall asleep hugging each other. They look so peaceful and innocent, that when the “law of Poker Flat” finds them, they are unable to tell which one is the sinner, so they turn away and let them be. As for the last, Oakhurst commits suicide.

'The Outcasts of Poker Flat' from The Overland Monthly, January 1869

Outcasts of Poker Flat Summary 'The Outcasts of Poker Flat' was first published in January, 1869, issue of the Overland Monthly magazine, which Bret Harte edited.At the time, Harte was on the threshold of national fame The success of his short story 'The Luck of Roaring Camp' the year before had elevated the twenty-nine-year-old writer to a position of literary prominence. About PokerNews. PokerNews.com is the world's leading poker website. Among other things, visitors will find a daily dose of articles with the Summary Of The Outcasts Of Poker Flat Sparknotes latest poker news, Summary Of The Outcasts Of Poker Flat Sparknotes live reporting from tournaments, exclusive videos, podcasts and so much more.

'The Outcasts of Poker Flat' (1869) is a short story written by author of the American West Bret Harte. An example of naturalism and local color of California during the first half of the nineteenth century, 'The Outcasts of Poker Flat' was first published in January 1869 in the magazine Overland Monthly. It was one of two short stories which brought the author national attention.

Plot summary[edit]

Outcast Of Poker Flat Characters

The story takes place in a Californian community known as Poker Flat, near the town of La Porte. Poker Flat is, in the opinions of many, on a downward slope. The town has lost thousands of dollars, and has experienced a moral decline. In an effort to save what is left of the town and reestablish it as a 'virtuous' place, a secret society is created to decide whom to exile and whom to kill. On November 23rd of 1850, four 'immoral' individuals are exiled from Poker Flat and warned not to return on pain of death. The first of them is a professional poker player, John Oakhurst. He is among those sent away because of his great success in winning from those on the secret committee. William hill slots rtp. On his way out of town, he is joined by two women, the Duchess and Mother Shipton, and Uncle Billy, the town drunk and a suspected robber. These four set out for the Sandy Bar mining camp, a day's journey away over a mountain range. At noon, the group stops for a rest over Oakhurst's protests.

While on their rest, the group is met by a pair of runaway lovers on their way to Poker Flat to get married. Piney Woods is a fifteen-year-old girl. Her lover, Tom Simson, known also as 'the Innocent', met Oakhurst before and has great admiration for him, as Oakhurst won a great deal of money from Simson. Oakhurst had returned the money and urged Simson never to gamble again, as he was a terrible player. Nonetheless, Simson is thrilled to have come upon Oakhurst on this day, and decides that he and Piney will stay with the group for a while. They do not know that the group is one of exiles, and Simson assumes that the Duchess is Oakhurst's wife, to the amusement of Uncle Billy.

A decision is made for everyone to stay the night together, and they take shelter in a half-built cabin Simson has discovered. In the middle of the night, Oakhurst wakes up and sees a heavy snowstorm raging. Looking about, he realizes that Uncle Billy has fled with the group's horses and mules. They are all now forced to wait out the storm with provisions that will likely only last for another 10 days. After a week in the cabin, Mother Shipton dies, having secretly and altruistically starved herself in order to give her rations to Piney. Oakhurst fashions some snowshoes for Simson to use in traveling to Poker Flat for help, telling the others he will accompany the young man part of the way. The 'law of Poker Flat' finally arrives at the cabin, only to find the Duchess and Piney frozen to death and embracing in a peaceful repose. They look so peaceful and innocent that the onlookers cannot tell which of them had been exiled for her immoral behavior.

Oakhurst commits suicide under a tree by shooting himself through the heart with his derringer. A playing card, the two of clubs, is found pinned to the trunk with a note written on it:



  • John Oakhurst

One of the story's heroes, Oakhurst is occasionally frank but kind in motivation. He is chivalrous, insisting upon switching his good riding horse Five Spot for the mule of the Duchess and refusing to use vulgar language. He further shows his good nature by returning the $40 he had won from Tom Simson in a card game and saying, 'Tommy, you're a good little man, but you can't gamble worth a cent. Don't try it over again.' Oakhurst is not a drinker. He is cool tempered, even keeled and has a calm manner about him. He believes in luck and fate. His suicide spurs the question whether he was simply giving in to his bad luck or rather, decided he was no longer going to live by luck and took his life.

  • The Duchess, a young woman.
  • Mother Shipton, another woman.
  • Uncle Billy, a 'suspected sluice-robber and confirmed drunkard'.
  • Tom Simson, a naïve young man who has run away from the Sandy Bar mining camp with Piney Woods and who intends to marry her at Poker Flat.
  • Piney Woods, a 'a stout, comely damsel of fifteen' who is engaged to Simson.
Outcasts Poker Flat Summary Sparknotes

Film, TV or theatrical adaptations[edit]

Harte's story has been brought to film at least five times, including in 1919 with Harry Carey, in 1937 with Preston Foster, and in 1952 with Dale Robertson. The spaghetti westernFour of the Apocalypse is based on this story and another of Harte's stories, 'The Luck of Roaring Camp'.

Operas based on The Outcasts of Poker Flats include those by Samuel Adler,[1]Jaromir Weinberger,[2] Stanworth Beckler,[3] and Andrew Earle Simpson.[4]


  1. ^'Archived copy'. Archived from the original on 2006-05-18. Retrieved 2006-08-09.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^'Jaromir Weinberger – Outcasts of Poker Flat – Opera'. boosey.com.
  3. ^'Archived copy'. Archived from the original on 2006-07-18. Retrieved 2006-08-09.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^Andrew Earle Simpson. 'Coming to The Capital Fringe Festival: 'The Outcasts of Poker Flat''. DCMetroTheaterArts.

External links[edit]

Wikisource has original text related to this article:
  • The Outcasts of Poker Flat public domain audiobook at LibriVox
  • The Outcasts of Poker Flat – Annotated text + analyses aligned to Common Core Standards

Outcasts Poker Flat Summary Sparknotes Act 3

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