Describe the setting in "The Outcasts of Poker Flat."

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cneukam1379 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"The Outcasts of Poker Flat" is set in a typical Western town that sprang up during the Gold Rush of 1849.  Physically, Bret Harte describes "the red dust of Poker Flat" that Mr. Oakhurst wipes from his boots.  There are also are mentions of gulches and a steep mountain range (the Sierra Madres) that the group of outcasts must travel through to get to the next settlement, Sandy Bar.

Besides the physical setting that is described, Harte also mentions that Poker Flat is "a settlement unused to Sabbath influences," meaning it is a lawless town that is used to having the types of people which it outcasts: gamblers, prostitutes, thieves and drunks.  However, as the story begins, Harte mentions that because of some recent crimes, there has recently been "a change in its moral atmosphere."  They cast out Mr. Oakhurst and the rest in hopes of changing the reputation of this typical Western town.

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The Outcasts of Poker Flat

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