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A Lesson Learned

            "The Outcasts of Poker Flat" is a great example of what life during the Gold Rush was like. The people of Poker Flat wish to cleanse their town by removing the undesirables. The four people that end up being asked to leave are Uncle Billy the drunkard, Duchess the prostitute, Mother Shipton the prostitutes madam, and Mr. John Oakhurst a gambler. They travel delightfully together, but are hit by unfavorable weather conditions that test their devotion to each other. In the end, most of the characters end up dying unpleasant deaths. Although this story has a sobering conclusion, the story was written to be a comedy. The author, Bret Harte, lived in the same time period as the story takes place, therefore, "biographers generally regard him as more of an observer than a participant in the rough-and-tumble culture of the Gold Rush California" (Wilson 236). Nevertheless, those experiences gave Harte the tools he needed to accurately create the perfect setting for "The Outcasts of Poker Flat". This ideal setting allowed the characters to develop and grow as a group and as individuals, and to learn very important lessons in forgiveness. .
             All of the characters that had been banned from the town learned an intensely meaningful lesson in forgiveness from Piney Woods and Tom Simson. After hard travel through the cold November and the rough terrain of the Sierras, the outcasts became too tired to continue towards their destination, Sandy Bar. They met Piney and Tom who had been traveling on a long and difficult journey and wanted to rest. They took the four travelers to a place where the people sheltered them and shared their food with them. " How lucky it was they found a place to camp and company" (Harte 21). The young couple was so happy to have met people that they did not care about their company being outcasts; they were just happy to have company and automatically forgave them for anything they could have possibly done wrong.

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