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Local Color Fiction

            The short story "The Outcasts of Poker Flat" is a superb example of local color fiction because it has the following characteristics: a) it is written for popular fiction, b) it contains accurate dialect, c) it shows realistic representations of local customs, dress, mannerisms, and habits of thought, d) it contains sentimentality, e) it contains humor, f) it contains the subject of life, friendship, and love, g) it came from personal experience of the author, and h) it contains eccentric characters. The story "The Outcasts of Poker Flat" is set in the West near the Sierra Mountains during the year 1850, a year after the 49ers reached California for gold. The townspeople of the fictional town of Poker Flat have decided to banish its more sinful characters. These outcasts are John Oakhurst, who is the protagonist of the story and is a professional gambler, the Duchess, a frail young beautiful prostitute, Mother Shipton, an older harlot with a temper, and Uncle Billy, a habitual drunk and a probable thief. As this group travels to Sandy Bar, a nearby town across a steep mountain range, they make camp surrounded by the granite cliffs of the Sierra Mountains and proceed to get drunk, excluding John Oakhurst who does not drink due to his profession. During this time, Tom Simson, also known as the "Innocent" of Sandy Bar, and Piney Woods, his fifteen-year-old sweetheart, run into them. Tom of Sandy Bar was a would-be gambler before he lost all his money to John Oakhurst. However, John returned the money on the condition that Tom never gambles again, thus befriending himself to the young man for life. After introductions and a failed attempt by John to persuade the two lovers to go to Poker Flat so that they could be married, they all decide to go make camp at a nearby patched-up log cabin that the two lovers found by the trail for the night. The next morning John Oakhurst wakes to find that Uncle Billy had stolen the animals and they were snowed in due to an ongoing blizzard.

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