An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce

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An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce

'An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge' by Ambrose Bierce is a 19th

Century mystery story that is set at the time of the American Civil

War (1861-1865) when the Slave owning Confederate States in the South

engaged in conflict with the Federal Government of the USA. The story

focuses on a character called Peyton Farquhar, whom is about to be

summarily hung for trespassing on the Owl Creek Bridge; his fate is to

be hung from that same bridge. The story ends with a curious twist in

the plot. The main part of the story is set in Farquhar's mind, though

whilst reading the reader is unsure (despite careful, hidden hints

placed by Bierce) of this fact. Only at the end when it is clearly

stated that Farquhar is hanging lifelessly with a broken neck from the

bridge that the reader will become conclusively aware of this. It is

divided into three parts, which I will analyse, in detail, separately.

Part I


'An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge' 'begins powerfully by introducing

a man, whom is not named until later on in the tale. This obviously

adds to the mystery. It describes with detail of him in somewhat a

predicament ~ " hands behind his back", " wrists bounds with a cord",

"rope closely encircled his neck". Words of such like are of a lexical

set of entrapment and give the impression that the man in question is

in danger and is unable to break free. Next, the reader learns that

"executioners" (also are soldiers from federal army) are present that

show the man has committed a crime, so is a condemned man. It raises

questions as to why he is there, and forces the reader to continue

reading. Bierce sustains more mystery by not revealing his crime until


... middle of paper ...

...y~ " Ah, how beautiful she is! He

springs forward with extended arms". Bierce lures the reader into

thoughts of joy by remarking how beautiful the wife is. Suddenly,

Bierce stops his complex illusions and proves that proves the prior

Part III was not reality, set in the min of Farquhar~ "his body swung

gently from side to side beneath the timbers of the Owl Creek Bridge.



Bierce has a unique style to pull the reader into the story. To name a

few techniques, his complex illusions keep the audience in suspense,

his detailed descriptions allow the reader to picture all aspects of

the story and the dividing of the story into three separate parts help

them to stay focused. These all work together to provide a compelling,

inspiring and powerful story. 'An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge' is a

great example how the mind can be deceptive.
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