What happens to Mother Shipton in "The Outcasts of Poker Flat"?  

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Mother Shipton is the older of the two prostitutes who are run out of town in Bret Harte's "The Outcasts of Poker Flat." Mother Shipton undergoes a transformation during the journey, changing from voicing her "desire to cut somebody's heart out" to "relaxing into amiability," exhibiting a motherly and protective influence on the two younger women.

Mother Shipton--once the strongest of the party--seemed to sicken and fade.

When she told Oakhurst to take the bundle on which she rested her head, he found that it contained her food from the past week--"untouched." She had been saving it for the other two women to eat in order to prolong their lives. Mother Shipton had starved herself to death:

"That's what they call it," said the woman, querulously, as she lay down again and, turning her face to the wall, passed quietly away.

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The Outcasts of Poker Flat

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