The Poker Bride: The First Chinese in the Wild West Essay

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  3
Wordcount:  714 Words
Date:  2022-06-19

In The Poker Bride: The First Chinese in the Wild West by Corbett, Polly Bemis is a character that is highly centered on to show the inhumane acts women were subjected to. The fact that Chinese female immigrants were treated as items to trade on and be used for pleasure by men, most of these women opted to commit suicide through opium and laudanum overdose to end their suffering. However, Polly Bemis, who was won in the poker game was lucky to be married to Charlie Bemis the gambler and saloonkeeper. The union can be termed as a blessing given the fact that Polly was an immigrant who lacked most of the valuable papers of certification to keep her in the foreign land. Therefore, Charlie opting to marry Polly was to help her settle down and rebuild her life.

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Arguably, the fact that Polly was sold multiple times before landing in the hands of Charlie, the marriage between these two was not on a forced ground, but we can assert that Charlie had seen how caring Polly was. In the neighbor's ranch diary, we are told how Polly had become an excellent gardener as well as a fisherwoman, implying that their settlement into the mountains highly favored Polly. On the other hand, Bemis was busy carrying out his activities like operating the ferry where he helped people cross the Salmon River. If for instance, the union between Polly and Bemis was a curse then we could not have learned how Polly tried to save the old man in the fire. On page 175, the ranch diary says, "Bemis house burned------ Got the old man out by the skin of my teeth. Poly and I got the old man over about 4. Had a hard time." Additionally, while sex slave trade led to many Chinese women dying in bondage, Polly Bemis was lucky to have landed in the right hands of Charlie who was ready to treat Polly as a wife and not as a slave to use as most white men did to immigrant women. Women were tools to use to satisfy the male desires and after that be tortured even to death, a thing that Polly had been saved from.

Factually, Chinese people in the West were not allowed to own anything such as land or even property. All that the Chinese immigrants received from the Americans was humiliations and torture that many wished or even took their own lives. On page 13, the author says, "Many older Chinese found the memories of discrimination and abuse in the early days too painful to recall or discuss." In this case, we can assert that not only did Polly get the chance to be rescued from the cruel world others like her went through but also got the opportunity to breath relieve from the pain she was initially subjected to. However, after getting married to Charlie, Polly is lucky to have the freedom to own the ranch and even carry out any farming practice she wished to. The union gave Polly freedom that she could not have gotten from her homeland or even family which sold her with the aim of making money.

It is further evident on page 175 still where we learn that Poly Bemis had lived in the Idaho County Mountains for 51 years. From this fact, it is visible that Polly had been lucky to have been saved from whatever suffering that she could have met in the process of being gambled on from one person to the other. In other words, it is even possible to say that If Charlie could not have married Polly, and then she could not have lived for long to enjoy the life in the ranch for the 51 years before the death of the old man. Furthermore, the author reports, "---they crossed the river to see how she was. They found her on the ground outside the house,"pg183. From this quote, it is evident that even after the death of Charlie, Polly continued to live on the ranch alone without any pressure from anyone and thus lucky to have died peacefully from old age, unlike other immigrants who died from being tortured.

Work Cited

Corbett, Christopher. The Poker Bride: The First Chinese in the Wild West. Grove/Atlantic, Inc., 2011.

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The Poker Bride: The First Chinese in the Wild West Essay. (2022, Jun 19). Retrieved from

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