Rahul Sharma

Tennessee's Partner (short story)

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Originally published  1902
Author  Bret Harte
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Similar  Works by Bret Harte, Other books

Tennessee's Partner is a short story by Bret Harte, first published in the Overland Monthly in 1869, which has been described as "one of the earliest 'buddy' stories in American fiction." It was later loosely adapted into the 1955 film of the same name.



The story is set in Sandy Bar, an Old West town, and focuses on two men, nicknamed "Tennessee" and "Tennessee's Partner." While Tennessee is a reckless gambler, his partner is humorless and practical. Despite their disparate personalities, they share a strong friendship that did not fail even when Tennessee was responsible for his partner's bride estranging him.

When Tennessee blatantly tries to steal from a stranger, he is arrested and put on trial. Tennessee's Partner tries to stick up for his friend, saying that he might not agree with everything Tennessee does, but he still supports him. Tennessee's Partner then tries to bribe the judge, so as to pay for his partner's crime, but the judge refuses. Tennessee shakes hands with his partner, telling him, "Euchred, old man!" Tennessee's Partner claims that he was just passing through and decided to check up on Tennessee. Neither speak to each other again and Tennessee is hanged.

Tennessee's Partner asks for the body of his friend and as he takes the donkey-cart away, other people follow out of curiosity or jest. Once Tennessee's Partner reaches his cabin, he makes a grave for his dead partner and declares that he carried Tennessee home, just as he'd done while his friend was alive. After declining in health, Tennessee's Partner goes out into a storm and dies, thus reuniting with his partner.

Publication history

First printed in California in the Overland Monthly for October 1869, "Tennessee's Partner" was reprinted the following month in Baltimore, in the New Eclectic Magazine. In 1870 the story was published in a collected volume of Harte's short stories, printed in Boston, The Luck of Roaring Camp and Other Sketches. Reviews of the volume appeared in the Lakeside Monthly, the Atlantic Monthly and in Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, all giving particular mention to "Tennessee's Partner". In the same year the story was anthologized in London in George Augustus Sala's A 3rd Supply of Yankee Drolleries: The Most Recent Works of the Best American Humourists. Thereafter it continued to appear in magazines, such as Boston's weekly Every Saturday of Jan. 14, 1871, as well as in other anthologies and in collections of Bret Harte's work.

Literary criticism

  • Tara Penry, "'Tennessee's Partner' as Sentimental Western Metanarrative", American Literary Realism, Vol. 36, No. 2 (Winter, 2004), pp. 148–165.
  • References

    Tennessee's Partner (short story) Wikipedia

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