An Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge

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An Occurance at Owl Creek Bridge

People can easily recognize that a butterfly, a horse, or a tree are alive and that a bike, a computer, and a lamp are not. People call a thing living if it is capable of performing certain activities, such as growth or reproduction. Biologists, however, have a hard time defining life. They have difficulty locating the dividing line between living and nonliving things. All scientist do agree however that one characteristic of all living things is the will to live that they all possess. Without this will living organisms would not be able to flourish as they most certainly do. Ambrose Bierce’s short story “An
Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” is a perfect example of the power of the will to live. It is the story of a man who is sentenced to death by asphyxiation. He thinks to himself “If
I could free my hands, I might throw off my noose and spring into the stream...By diving
I could evade the bullets and swimming vigorously, reach the bank.” This is surely the talk of a man who has the will to live. Up until the last nanoseconds of his execution, he imagines an elaborate escape in which he manages to reach his home and family.
Peyton Farquhar is a southern gentleman, “..of a highly respected Alabama family,” in the times of the civil war. “His features were good, a straight nosed, firm mouthed, broad forehead from which his long dark hair was combed straight back, falling behind his ears to the collar of his well-fitting frock coat.” Due to circumstances not described in the story, Peyton was not able to join his beloved state to fight for the
“southern cause.” Because of this he wanted to do all that he could to fulfill his part.
When he heard of the opportunity to destroy a bridge that was needed by the federal army, he jumped at the chance. He was not sorry for what he attempted to do when he got caught. He supposed that he “...a civilian and student of hanging [might] evade the picket post and perhaps get the better of the sentinel.” He was however disappointed that due to his capture he would never again see his family. Peyton Farquhar loved his wife and children. In his last moments on this earth Farquhar “...closed his eyes in order to fix his last thoughts upon his wife and children.”
Being a plantation owner affected Farquhar’s politics. He needed to look after his land for the sake of his family name and his children.
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