playing card, a two of clubs, in the center next to a hunting knife

The Outcasts of Poker Flat

by Bret Harte
Start Free Trial

What is the exposition in "The Luck of Roaring Camp?"

Exposition refers to background information that is given in the beginning of a story. In "The Luck of Roaring Camp," Bret Harte begins with exposition, which is also referred to as "historical" or "locale" introduction. The first seven paragraphs of this story contain the exposition, which gives the reader information about the setting and characters.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Exposition refers to the part of the story where the author gives background information, usually about the setting and characters. Exposition usually comes close to the beginning of a story, but it can occur elsewhere as well. In "The Luck of Roaring Camp," Bret Harte starts out his...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

Exposition refers to the part of the story where the author gives background information, usually about the setting and characters. Exposition usually comes close to the beginning of a story, but it can occur elsewhere as well. In "The Luck of Roaring Camp," Bret Harte starts out his story traditionally, with the exposition at the beginning, specifically the first seven paragraphs.

In these paragraphs we learn about how rough the camp is (paragraph 1), who the baby's mother was (paragraph 2), that deaths were relatively common there but births were novel (paragraph 3), who the residents of the camp were (paragraphs 4, 5, and 6), and what the setting was (paragraph 7). In paragraph 8, the action of the story picks up in earnest, although it has been hinted at during the exposition.

These paragraphs contain some of the most brilliantly written exposition in literature because of how they set the tone for the story and clearly create characterization with relatively few words. The following sentences display masterful exposition:

Perhaps in the minor details of fingers, toes, ears, etc., the camp may have been deficient, but these slight omissions did not detract from their aggregate force. The strongest man had but three fingers on his right hand; the best shot had but one eye.

Thus Harte introduces the reader to this rag-tag band of "roughs" in a way that we can easily picture, allowing us to engage with them as the plot of the story develops.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team