The Outcasts of Poker Flat
As a result of this, it sounds lofty, condescending, and is just generally unpleasant to read. In the beginning of the story, Mother Shipton is described from the eyes of the townspeople: When word of Dickens' death reached Bret Harte in July , he immediately sent a dispatch across the bay to San Francisco to hold back the forthcoming publication of his Overland Monthly for twenty-four hours, so that he could compose the poetic tribute, Dickens in Camp. The third body is found under a tree at the head of the gulch. After the two women and Uncle Billy drink themselves into oblivion, Oakhurst, who does not drink, contemplates the little group. When a small tribe of Indi This is a story about character. The gambler assumes that they will all die soon unless something is done.
Jun 10, classic reverie rated it it was amazing Shelves: It was really interesting and I decided to read it and see how close the producers played it! They had it all right but in the story the ending was not quite crystal clear but the point is made perfectly.
The short story in brief- After trouble at the town Poker Flat, it is decided that certain characters must leave at once and that included two ladies one young lady of the night and an older lady , Billy the drunk and a gambler. They are headed to another town across the mountain range and that is where luck might change. I loved this story because of the humanistic side that if I told you what that was would give the story away.
This was written in and I find that it was written at that time really special and interesting. I love older story because it is a glimpse into the past. I will be looking into reading him again in the future. I read another edition; look under my Bret Harte shelf for collection of his works. View all 3 comments. Mar 06, Mia Parentheses Enthusiast rated it it was ok Shelves: This probably would have been a nice story if the author had kept it simple. I'm not saying that he should have eliminate all the bells and whistles- those unique touches are what make writing special.
But it's as if Mr. Harte wrote a sentence, whipped out a thesaurus, and chose the most complicated and pretentious synonym for each word.
As a result of this, it sounds lofty, condescending, and is just generally unpleasant to read. Notwithstanding some difficulties attending the manipulation of this instrument, Piney Woods managed to pluck several reluctant melodies from its keys, to an accompaniment by the Innocent on a pair of bone castanets.
Stay away from this one. Apr 13, Joseph rated it it was amazing. Interesting twist of events; a group of outcasts are presented first as a mold and have a romantic illusion around them as they are made out to be stereotype characters. But later they are seen in more ways real in which we never knew about. A short, sad story which is not suit for me. Bret Harte's writing is concise, and while that sounds like small praise, I intend it as the highest compliment.
I often feel while reading that action is made up simply to make books larger, and to cover for the fact that the plot is, in fact, quite thin. At the other end of the spectrum, there are stories and novels that are large because the author has purposely woven in too much complexity, in an all too obvious effort to make the plot unpredictable.
Harte avoids these extremes, and simply t Bret Harte's writing is concise, and while that sounds like small praise, I intend it as the highest compliment. Harte avoids these extremes, and simply tells a good story. He takes a single theme, and tells the story that surrounds it, and when the simple story is told, he has the discipline to stop.
This makes each short story like a solid gold nugget, compared to the ore of larger, more complex works. There is nothing the reader has to sift through to find the "good parts".
I first read a play adaptation of "The Outcasts of Poker Flat" in , when I chose the play to direct for a high school project.
The story is sweet, and simple, and at the same time raises difficult questions about love, strength, weakness, and judgment. I loved directing the play, and I was slightly afraid after all these years to find that the story was not what I remembered from the play. The play adaptation was evidently faithful to the story, because in the story I found the same sweetness, the same questions, the same questions of strength and weakness and sacrifice that I remember from the play.
Several of the stories are sad stories, but at the same time, they are not full of despair. It seems to me that this is a more difficult balance to strike as a writer.
It's easy enough to remove all hope and goodness from a story, and leave the reader with a sense of hopelessness. But to tell a sad story, and leave the reader with the impression of hope, while difficult, is both better, and more worthwhile, as it encourages the reader to think about the sources of that clinging hope. Of course, not all of the stories are sad. In fact, Harte handles action, adventure, humor, courtroom drama, and delicate human relationships with the same aplomb that he handles sadness and loss.
And all of the stories in this book are set in gold-rush era California, of which Harte very deftly draws pictures in the mind of the reader. For the very human stories, and for the wonderful depictions of life in early California, I recommend Harte's stories very highly.
Jan 18, Frederick rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: Fans of American Literature and the Western. Bret Harte was contemporaneous with Mark Twain. Beneath the sentimentalism and racial stereotyping there is an understanding of rough-and-tumble loners. One could argue that the theme here is the state of being outcast.
If you read nothing else in this book, take a half-hour of your time to read the story "The Luck of Roaring Camp. Harte draws frankly on the story of Moses, something Twain would have been loath to do. He was a miniaturist, making him different from his disciples, for whom bloviation was a byword for sincerity. This is a story about character. A secret committee of the town of Poker Flat "had determined to rid the town of all improper persons.
At the beginning this seems like a good decision but a snowstorm puts the four people and two others that they meet along the way in peril for their lives. Each person responds in expected and unexpected ways. Bret Harte wrote about the West. When a small tribe of Indi This is a story about character. When a small tribe of Indians in northern California was brutally murdered by the local white community, Harte, as the editor of the local newspaper decried this shameful and inhumane act.
Because of this he was forced to flee for his life to San Francisco. Northern California has a very ugly early history where the Indians are concerned.
Aug 19, Janelle Heirendt rated it really liked it Recommended to Janelle by: In just a few pages, Bret Harte makes some sharp observations on "innocence and experience," the meaning of integrity, and the power dynamics, which override true moral initiative, in "outcast selection. You could probably find it online; I believe the copyright has expired Aug 06, Hasselhh rated it liked it Shelves: The text related that the book was a smash hit by the writer, who never achieved the same success as he started with and ended his career writing hack novels.
Thus, when I saw this book on sale for a dollar or less at the bargain bin of the local library, it seemed like a steal. What a great way to explore the literature of that time and see what people liked back then.
Turns out, they apparently liked a writer who specialized in I first heard this book mentioned in my textbook for AP US History. Turns out, they apparently liked a writer who specialized in using the most over-elaborate words to describe even the most mundane things, one who could rival Dickens in loquaciousness. The text wanders around in so many elaborate formations that following what the author is trying to say resembles tracing the path that a dust particle would take through a room while being buffeted by a slight breeze coming in from half-open windows.
Worse yet, the masterfully obfuscating text serves to tell mediocre stories. Simply put, these stories aren't that interesting. The author attempts to end each story with a plot twist or stinger, but almost all of them have no significant emotional impact and show an utter lack of creativity.
None of them are new and most are so meaningless that I would have had a hard time knowing that they were the end of their respective stories had the text stopped soon after the reveal. It avoids a 1-star rating only because the book is not awful. It is very disappointing and its reputation is undeserved, but the stories are passable enough that reading them is more entertaining than waiting listlessly for your turn at the DMV. Fatally flawed effort undone by excessively elaborate wording used to construct mediocre stories.
Jun 16, Peter Bradley rated it it was amazing Shelves: Please give my Amazon review a helpful vote - https: I've been meaning to read "The Outcasts of Poker Flat" for decades; so, I picked it up as an audiobook. It is simple, sparse, direct tale about how Oakhurst the gambler, and three others who threaten the moral quality of Poker Flats, are required to leave that town and never return.
The exiles, and two others, are trapped by a snow storm and exhibit a quiet courage and fellowship in this situation. It is a short Please give my Amazon review a helpful vote - https: It is a short story, and an effective one.
In a way, I want to know the back story of Oakhurst, who comes across as an interesting and decent man. Slice of life, with a juxtaposition of innocence and perceived sin, and how the world views and reacts to both.
An interesting study in the "types" of people who are seen as innocent, or seen as guilty of committing undesirable activities. The way it goes reminds us that at the end of the day, we are all human, and subject to whatever nature throws at us. I read a PDF version of this supplied by my professor. Dec 17, Amy C. Eloquent writing style and elegant maneuvering of suspense. Mar 16, Deborah rated it it was amazing Shelves: One of the best short stories ever written by one of the greatest writers of the 19 century.
Aug 30, Sarah rated it really liked it. Any given character can die a grisley death or become an heiress to a fortune on any page. More seem to take the former route than the latter. 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 Tom.
Oakhurst returned the money and pressed upon Tom that the latter should never play poker again, as he was a terrible player. Nonetheless, Tom 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; 'innocent' as they are, they are convinced The Duchess is an actual duchess, and so on.
A decision is made for everyone to stay the night together. Tom leads the group to a half-butty cabin he discovered, where they spend the night. In the middle of the night, Oakhurst wakes up and sees a heavy snowstorm raging.
Looking about, he realizes that he is the only one awake, but soon discovers someone had awoken before him: Uncle Billy is missing, with the group's mules and horses stolen.
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 for young Piney. Oakhurst fashions some snowshoes for Simson to go for help, telling the others he will accompany the young man part of the way to Poker Flat.
The "law of Poker Flat" finally arrives at the cabin, only to find the dead Duchess and Piney, embracing in a peaceful repose. They look so peaceful and innocent that the onlookers cannot tell which is the virgin and which is the madam. Oakhurst has committed suicide. He is found dead beneath a tree with his Derringer's bullet in his heart. There is a playing card, the two of clubs, pinned to the tree above his head with a note:.
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. Another instance of his good nature is: Don't try it ever 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.
Harte's story has been brought to film at least five times, including in with Harry Carey , in with Preston Foster , and in with Dale Robertson. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article has multiple issues.