In “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,” Bierce weaves a story that places the reader inside the mind of a Southerner during the Civil War, allowing him or her to experience it from the perspective of a Confederate sympathizer and thereby contemplate the narrative that history paints of the era. The story opens with the impending hanging of Peyton Farquhar, a “well-to-do planter, of an old...
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...ving with its aftermath. His delvings into the workings of the human mind, especially in terms of how it responds to the utter chaos and ruination brought about by combat, supply his audience with a unique glance into the cynicism felt by the post-War generation. With his musings on mortality, futility, devastation, and the scarcity of time, Bierce represents the sentiments of a nation that was torn apart by fighting and temporarily lost its ability to function as a whole. Furthermore, with his stories “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” and “Chickamauga,” Bierce grants the opportunity for his readers to ponder their own behaviors, opinions, and lifestyles. As a result, he proves himself to be an incredible example of the means by which literature can affect people, an ability that endures even after one’s original audience has passed and a new generation has emerged.
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