Reflection #1…Bret Harte The Luck of Roaring Camp

In his short story The Luck of Roaring Camp Bret Harte provides a harsh and realistic viewpoint of camp life during the Gold Rush. The Luck of Roaring Camp┬átells the story of a new born infant who is orphaned at birth. His mother, Cherokee Sal, was described as “coarse and it was it is to be feared, a very sinful woman. But at that time she was the only woman in Roaring camp.” (p. 353). ┬áPart of Harte’s authenticity in his story is displayed by demonstrating how Gold Rush camps were predominately male and held a certain male dominated atmosphere, which was very rough. However, upon the arrival of Tommy Luck, which they named the infant, the camp transformed into a different atmosphere and Roaring Camp viewed Tommy Luck or “The Luck” as a symbol of pride and joy. The men of Roaring Camp seemed to take on more of a motherly role for The Luck by tending to him and providing a clean and appropriate cabin for the young lad. Harte describes the transformation of Roaring Camp for the better upon The Luck’s arrival. “Almost imperceptibly a change came over the settlement. The cabin assigned to ‘Tommy Luck’…was kept scrupulously clean and the whitewashed.” (p. 357). Harte displays in his short story how a group of rough men were turned soft over the arrival of a new infant. The men of Roaring Camp would cater to his needs and take him to the creeks and hillsides while they worked. Harte also displays how harsh life can be on minors and settlers during the late 1800’s with the sudden tragedy of the death of Tommy Luck and one of his many mentors Kentuck.

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