How does Harte bring Oakhurst to life in "The Outcasts of Poker Flat"? What are some details that reveal the most about the character?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Although Oakhurst is accused of no specific crimes in the story, he nevertheless remains cool during his sentencing, and he stays silent while the others complain as they are led from town. He is "philosophic" about the situation, and he immediately shows his gentlemanly qualities by giving up his horse to the Duchess; he is content to ride a "sorry mule." He does not succumb to the liquor that causes the party to give "up their hand before the game was played out," and, instead, remains calm as he reminisces about the way his own life has turned out. He alone recognizes the danger in the storm clouds that forms above, yet he never considers deserting the others. He gallantly sticks by his story that Uncle Billy had left them to "find provisions," rather than frighten them with the truth that the drunken, old man had left them to fend for themselves. Oakhurst's calm "infected the others," helping to make their final hours a less terrifying time. He pretends to accompany Stimson for a short distance to ease Piney's worry, and he thrills the Duchess with a kiss before he leaves. His own death, though perhaps a cowardly act, is by his own hand and on his own terms.

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The Outcasts of Poker Flat

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