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Being exiled and snowed-in has a surprisingly positive dramatic effect on the characters in "The Outcasts of Poker Flat." Mother Shipton, the madam, finds her true self during the final stages of the story. Her motherly instincts and concern for the others become most evident when it is found that she has been hoarding her food--and starving herself--so the two younger women may benefit from it. The Duchess's complaining turns to cheerfulness after the arrival of Piney Woods and, like Mother Shipton, she exerts a motherly influence on the younger, innocent girl. In the end, when their bodies are found together, the rescue party cannot tell
"... which was she that had sinned."
Meanwhile, Oakhurst, who has been the solid rock of the group, doing his best to keep the others' hopes alive, eventually shows why he is both
"... the strongest and yet the weakest of the outcasts of Poker Flat."
When it becomes evident that survival is hopeless and death is eminent, he takes the easy way out--saving his last bullet for himself.
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