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What are some examples of situational irony in "The Outcasts of Poker Flat"?

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marc23 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 16, 2012 at 1:57 PM via web

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What are some examples of situational irony in "The Outcasts of Poker Flat"?

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 17, 2012 at 12:30 AM (Answer #1)

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EXAMPLES OF SITUATIONAL IRONY IN "THE OUTCASTS OF POKER FLAT"

  • Gambler John Oakhurst finds himself being run out of a town named for the West's most popular card game.
  • All of the outcasts are guilty of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. None are guilty of specific crimes: Oakhurst is an honest gambler who is saved from the hangman's noose because members of the town--who have won money from him at poker--have stood up for him; the two women are prostitutes who have apparently been plying their trade for some time; and Uncle Billy is merely a drunk.
  • The Duchess rides a lowly mule out of town.
  • Tom Simson, the "Innocent of Sandy Bar," and the "virgin" Piney, stumble upon and join the party of sinners.
  • Tom's girl, Piney Woods, joins the group in the pine-wooded area.
  • Tom mistakes the prostitute, the Duchess, for Oakhurst's wife.
  • The "virgin Piney"--not realizing the occupation of the other women--quickly becomes friends with her fallen "sisters."
  • The beautiful, "sylvan" nature of their location quickly becomes a deadly one with the coming of the snowfall.
  • The remaining outcasts recognize the danger of being snowed-in, but they pretend to go along with the "cheerful gaiety" displayed by Tom, who considers their situation an adventure and "square fun."
  • Tom reads from Homer and his tale of Achilles--the invulnerable warrior who nevertheless dies of a single weakness: his mortal heel.
  • Mother Shipton lives up to her name under the most terrible conditions, hoarding her food for the others before starving to death.
  • The Duchess is redeemed when she dies alongside Piney: "...the younger and purer pillowing the head of her soiled sister upon her virgin breast..."
  • The deadly snow is compared to angels--"white-winged birds."
  • Oakhurst uses a deuce of clubs--the weakest card of the deck--to write his epitaph.

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