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Harte, Bret. "The Luck of Roaring Camp".


The Roaring Camp is a settlement of reckless roughs. The only woman in the village, the coarse and sinful Cherokee Sal, dies in childbirth. Though the men do as if they cursed the orphan to preserve their coarse appearance, they unanimously decide to adopt the baby.

It is adopted by Stumpy and fed by his she-ass. The baby boy is called Tommy Luck because he brought luck to the camp. The camp undergoes regeneration: moral and social sanitary is established, even the roaring which gave the camp its name is prohibited so as not to disturb the Luck.

In winter there is a flood and Stumpy's cabin is washed away. Stumpy is found dead. A relief boat brings Kentuck holding the Luck. When Kentuck finds out that the Luck is dead, he is happy to be dying, too, to be brought away by the Luck and stay with him.



- a local colour story set in California

- uses vernacular in dialogues

- employs soft irony which sometimes evokes a humorous effect

- the narrator is tender and sympathetic to his outcasts

- theme: an immensely improving influence of a single pure being on a group of roughs

- the outcasts of society prove themselves to have tender hearts and to be very well capable of regeneration when encouraged to do so by the right impulse


  • Author

    Harte, Bret. (1836 - 1902).
  • Full Title

    "The Luck of Roaring Camp".
  • First Published

    In: Overland Monthly. San Francisco: 1868.
  • Form

    Short story.

Works Cited

Harte, Bret. "The Luck of Roaring Camp". (1868). In: Bret Harte's Gold Rush. Berkeley: Heyday Books, 1996.


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