The Outcasts of Poker Flat Questions and Answers
by Bret Harte

The Outcasts of Poker Flat book cover
Start Your Free Trial

Who is Piney Woods in "The Outcasts of Poker Flat" by Bret Harte?

Expert Answers info

carol-davis eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2004

write1,291 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

The Sierra Nevada Mountains are unforgiving in the winter.  This is the setting of the story “The Outcasts of Poker Flat” by Bret Harte.  This poignant story involves a motley group of people who are caught in a blizzard which has deadly results.

The story involes John Oakhurst, a gambler, who has been thrown out of Poker Flat along with three other people: the Duchess, a young, frail prostitute; Mother Shipton, an older prostitute;  and a shiftless criminal Uncle Billy.  The town was bent on ridding itself of any person of ill repute.

All of them were given an animal to ride and a few provisions and sent out into the wilderness to find another place to lodge. They were on the road to Sandy Bar, another town that did not have the same moral stance. They were not equipped to make it all the way to the other camp.

The group met another pair of travelers who were headed to Poker Flat.  Tom Simson and Piney Wood had run away from Sandy Bar to be married.  Tom had been named the Innocent by  Oakhurst when he played and beat Tom in a game of cards.

Who is Piney Wood?

Piney was only fifteen and her father objected to her marrying Tom.  The author describes Piney: “a stout comely damsel of fifteen.” She was a giggly, inexperienced, young girl.  Encouraged by Oakhurst to be on their way, the Innocent insists on staying the night with the group.  They find a broken down shack and settle for the night.

Piney’s character serves as a foil for the other worldly women.  She attaches herself to the ladies and never questions their morals or character. The Duchess and Piney engage in girl talk, and Mother Shipton shows some friendliness.  

The blizzard that begins seals the...

(The entire section contains 603 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial