Tennessee's Partner Summary

Summary (Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

The unnamed narrator explains that the real name of Tennessee’s Partner has—in accordance with Sandy Bar’s quixotic practice of rechristening new arrivals—never been known in the mining town. The locals have dubbed the man “Tennessee’s Partner” because he teamed up with Tennessee, a wholly disreputable character whose own real name has been similarly obliterated from communal memory.

The narrator goes on to relate the story of Tennessee’s Partner’s search for a bride. A year earlier, in 1853, the man set out for San Francisco from Poker Flat but got no farther than Stockton, where he was attracted by a waitress in a hotel. During a courtship, the waitress broke a plate of toast over Tennessee’s Partner’s head, then agreed to marry him before a justice of the peace. With his new bride in tow, the man returned to Poker Flat, and then went to Sandy Bar, where the couple took up residence with Tennessee.

Some time after his partner’s return, Tennessee began making indecent advances to the new bride until she ran off to Marysville. He then followed her there and set up housekeeping without the aid of a justice of the peace. A few months later their relationship ended; the woman took up with yet another man and Tennessee returned to Sandy Bar. To the disappointment of the townspeople, who gathered to witness a shooting, Tennessee’s Partner was the first man to shake Tennessee’s hand, and he greeted him with affection....

(The entire section is 548 words.)