The Outcasts of Poker Flat Questions and Answers
by Bret Harte

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Why doesnt John Oakhurst tell the others the truth about what Uncle Billy had done in "The Outcasts of Poker Flat"?  

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John Oakhurst realizes that the theft of the mules and provisions by Uncle Billy is a death sentence for the other outcasts. With the blizzard coming and no time or form of transportation for the others to successfully reach safety, Oakhurst decides to keep the truth to himself in order to keep up the others' hopes for survival. Instead, he announces that Uncle Billy has headed off to find provisions before returning to save them. The Duchess and Mother Shipton know the truth--they do not buy Oakhurst's story--but they also keep quiet in order to give hope to Tom and Piney.

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