What sentence is "anathema" found in (Bret Harte's "The Outcasts of Poker Flats")?

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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The word "anathema" is found in the final sentence of paragraph seven of Bret Harte's "The Outcasts of Poker Flats": "Uncle Billy included the whole party in one sweeping anathema." Anathema refers to a person who is damned, shunned, loathed, or excommunicated. 

The story tells of a group of people whom the community of Poker Flats wishes to exile or kill. The people, considered undesirable by the secret committee, are either executed or cast out from the town. 

In regards to the word in question, Uncle Billy looks at all of the undesirable people, sweeping his eyes over them as a collective whole. Ironically, Uncle Billy is not a desirable character himself. In fact, he is a thief and drunk. 


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