The Outcasts of Poker Flat Questions and Answers
by Bret Harte

The Outcasts of Poker Flat book cover
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In The Outcasts of Poker Flat, who joined Mr. Oakhurst's traveling group at their camp?

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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At the beginning of the story, a notorious gambler named Mr. John Oakhurst, two prostitutes, and a thief/alcoholic named Uncle Billy are banished from the lawless town of Poker Flat. As the four outcasts make their way to the town of Sandy Bar, which is on the other side of a steep mountain range, the Duchess declares that she will go no farther without a rest. After the four outcasts set up their camp, a young couple ascends the trail and joins the troublemakers. Tom Simson and his bride-to-be, Piney Woods, are happy to join the group of outcasts and do not judge them for their unfavorable reputations. Tom "The Innocent" Simson recognizes Oakhurst from a previous encounter, where he lost all of his money to Oakhurst, who kindly returned the money and advised him never to gamble again. The young couple is heading to get married in Poker Flat and Tom generously lends them some of his provisions. Unfortunately, Uncle Billy steals the mules and provisions and the group attempts to survive the unforgiving atmosphere for an extended period of time.

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cneukam1379 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The original group that leaves Poker Flat includes Mr. John Oakhurst, a gambler; Uncle Billy, a thief and drunk; the Duchess, a prostitute; and Mother Shipton, a witch.  All of these characters are kicked out of the camp because they represent some form of "wickedness" that the recently reformed camp leaders thought would clean up the reputation of their establishment.  

As the outcasts travel to the next town, Sandy Bar, the Duchess stops the traveling party at noon and refuses to go further. Mr. Oakhurst recognizes the need for the group to move on as they have nothing but their horses to give them shelter or food, but by now, Uncle Billy is drunk, the Duchess is pouting, and Mother Shipton has fallen asleep.  It is at this point that the group is joined by Tom Simson, aka "The Innocent," and his fiancee Piney Woods, who are on their way to Poker Flat to be married.  These fresh-faced teenagers are the opposite in every way from the "outcasts," yet they cannot be dissuaded from joining the group.

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