Poker Flat

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19 March 2016

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Do you think people can control how or if the die; even if inevitable? This unique story by Francis Bret Harte “The Outcast of Poker Flat”, has a grey western setting. Harte explores the mind of a gambler who is exiled from a warped town. Two literary devices regionalism and naturalism content is evident throughout, giving the story a feeling of hopelessness of survival.

The regionalism in “The Outcast of Poker Flat” separates the characters from the town in such a way that is ironic. “I reckon they are after somebody” is said by the main character in the beginning of the story showing strong dialect on how the speech is in the town. The dialect is a western slang with an unintelligent tone to the towns people. The quote also shows the tense situation in that town specifically; everyone is on edge whispering among each other as the main character walks into a bar. They irony between the towns people and the so called “criminal” outcast was shown strongly in the leader of the town cleanup crew “…the leader spoke briefly and to the point. The exiles were forbidden to return at the peril of their lives”. What is so ironic about this is the role reversal. Who are the criminals, what group is doing the most wrong in this situation? The pessimism and dismay for the outcast soon after had clear naturalism.

The outcast were exiled from the town of Poker Flat. “It was distant a day’s severe travel. In that advanced season, the party soon passed out of the moist, temperate regions of the foot-hills into the dry, cold, bracing air of the Sierras.” The brutal environment would test the outcasts ability to survive. Since the group was not prepared for the cold temperatures or the dangerous Sierras survival seemed futile. The outcast start to give up “Toward morning they found themselves unable to feed the fire, which gradually died away. As the embers slowly blackened, the Duchess crept closer to Piney, and broke the silence of many hours: “Piney, can you pray?” “No, dear,” said Piney, simply.” the environment is dwindling away at the outcast survival until they parish. The outcast have been victims of naturalism they were not prepared for the hard unforgiving Sierra mountains.

Two literary devices regionalism and naturalism content is evident throughout, giving the story a feeling of hopelessness of survival. These devices create and understanding of the story. They help separate two similar but different concepts.

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Poker Flat. (19 March 2016). Retrieved from

"Poker Flat" StudyScroll, 19 March 2016,

StudyScroll. (2016). Poker Flat [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 26 September, 2023]

"Poker Flat" StudyScroll, Mar 19, 2016. Accessed Sep 26, 2023.

"Poker Flat" StudyScroll, Mar 19, 2016.

"Poker Flat" StudyScroll, 19-Mar-2016. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 26-Sep-2023]

StudyScroll. (2016). Poker Flat. [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 26-Sep-2023]

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