According to the narrator, the town had changed overnight. It was an "ominous" change with a "Sabbath lull" that had not existed before. Permeated with red dust, Poker Flat was a generally lawless town that suddenly turned on several of the town's less prominent members. The death of one citizen and several robberies prompted a group of "virtuous" townspeople to take action. The narrator doesn't seem to think very highly of the citizens of Poker Flat, who decided to make an example of a group of people whose actions were acceptable to them only a day before. The "secret" committee's actions were as "lawless and ungovernable" as the people who had been accused. Poker Flat was not a friendly town, and most of the people who lived there simply looked the other way when Oakhurst and the others were outcast from the town. The people who lived there were weak, but they were capable of some pity, choosing to simply give the offending party the boot rather than the hangman's noose.