The Outcasts of Poker Flat Questions and Answers
by Bret Harte

The Outcasts of Poker Flat book cover
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In Bret Harte's The Outcast of Poker Flat, what are three redeeming qualities, with examples, that John Oakhurst exhibits?

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Bret Harte’s short story, The Outcasts of Poker Flat, displays the good, the bad, and the exceedingly judgmental within the confines of its seven pages.  In much literature of the Western genre, as well as in films depicting the “old West,” gamblers are generally a breed best left to their own devices, morally ambivalent at best and unscrupulous at worst.  In Harte’s story, however, the gambler, John Oakhurst, is the story’s conscience, and its most reliable determinant of what constitutes the best action under unfavorable circumstances.  The opening sentences of The Outcasts of Poker Flat reveal an individual of particular perceptiveness regarding transformations developing around him:

“As Mr. John Oakhurst, gambler, stepped into the main street of Poker Flat on the morning of the twenty-third of November, 1850, he was conscious of a change in its moral atmosphere since the preceding night.”

Poker Flat, Harte points out, is changing; it is becoming dominated by those who...

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