Even though Oakhearst is a gambler, he is an honorable man. He shows his noble side when he returns money to Tom "the innocent" after he wins from him in what the gamble considers and unfair match, since Tom has so little experience with gambling. He takes on the leadership role in the party of outcasts. He does everything he can to protect Tom and Piney: He suggests they move on alone, and when that fails, he rations the food and keeps the order and assumes the largest part of the responsibilites, including the major part of night watch. And even though he takes the cowardly way out of life by killing himself (which proves him the weakest), before he takes his life, he does everything he can to ensure the survival of the remaining outcasts. He makes the snowshoes for Tom and sends him for help. He cuts and stacks firewood for the Duchess and Piney. So he is heroic in those ways.
When the outcasts are trapped by a snowstorm, Oakhurst assumes leadership of the group. After putting together a makeshift pair of snowshoes, he gives them to Simson, instructing him to go to Poker Flat and bring help. When the rescue party finally arrives, Oakhurst has killed himself, revealing himself to be "the strongest and yet the weakest of the
outcasts of Poker Flat."