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The only chance to save Piney in Bret Harte's "The Outcasts of Poker Flat" is for a....

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cknutson4 | Honors

Posted July 21, 2013 at 2:09 PM via web

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The only chance to save Piney in Bret Harte's "The Outcasts of Poker Flat" is for

a. everyone to give her their food.

b. her to be bundled in the others' coats.

c. her and Tom to go back to Sandy Bar.

d. Tom to make it to Poker Flat in two days and bring help.

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 21, 2013 at 6:05 PM (Answer #1)

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In "The Outcasts of Poker Flat" by Bret Harte, the fine, upstanding Christian citizens of Poker Flat have a problem. 

Poker Flat was "after somebody." It had lately suffered the loss of several thousand dollars, two valuable horses, and a prominent citizen. It was experiencing a spasm of virtuous reaction, quite as lawless and ungovernable as any of the acts that had provoked it. A secret committee had determined to rid the town of all improper persons.

Among those "improper persons" are John Oakhurst (a gambler who has a kind heart), a young woman known as "Duchess" and older woman named Mother Shipton (both of whom are in the business of prostitution), and a drunkard (and thief) named Uncle Billy.

The "deported wickedness of Poker Flat" are escorted out of town with few supplies as winter approaches. They end up in a deserted cabin and are joined by Tom Shipton (known as "The Innocent") and the fifteen-year-old girl he loves, Piney Woods. The young couple is running away together and readily accepts these "outcasts" as friends. 

The next morning, Oakhust discovers that Uncle Billy has taken the mules and left. Fortunately, he did not take their rations; unfortunately, their rations are limited. They are trapped because of a snowstorm, and for about a week things are fine; however, it soon becomes clear that something must be done or the entire group will die. Mother Shipton has privately been starving, sacrificing her life so Piney could live. After she dies, Oakhurst decides that Tom must make his way to Poker Flat to get help and provisions or they will all die. 

While he is gone, Duchess and Piney huddle together for warmth and comfort. When the rescue party arrives several days later, they discover the women frozen in peaceful death. Oakhurst is also dead.

Mother Shipton is the only one who has anything to do with giving Piney food, so the answer is not A. Coats are not particularly an issue for any of them in this story, and no one ever considers sending Piney with Tom. Thus, the answer to your question is D.

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