An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, by Ambrose Bierce

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In “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”, Bierce starts her short story on the edge with Peyton Farquhar, a 35 year old planter from the south, standing on Owl Creek Bridge with his hands tied behind his back and a noose around his neck. There are soldiers from the north surrounding him. Two soldiers, one on each side of him, take away the plank in which he is standing on. Falling to the water, Farquhar focuses his last thoughts on his family, while also having hopes of freeing his hands and diving into the water below.
A flashback occurs and readers learn that Farquhar and his wife were sitting on a bench one night when a soldier, who looked as if he was from the south, rode by asking for a glass of water. As the Mrs. goes and gets the water, Farquhar and the soldier talk about how the Yankees are going to hang anyone who interferes with the new railroad they are constructing. Farquhar tells the soldier an idea or thought he has while smirking. Later, readers learn that the soldier is a federal scout from the north.
Readers are then taken back to the scene of the bridge where Farquhar realizes that the rope has broken and he has fallen into the stream. He is at the bottom of the river and when he finally comes up for air, he is being shot at by the soldiers. He swims as fast as he can with the current, making it to the edge of the bank. Traveling all day through the woods, he eventually makes it through and finds himself on a lonely road, which he recognizes is a path to his house. There he is greeted by two things: his beautiful wife, and as he goes to reach her he is hit with the other, which is reality. Swinging from Owl Creek Bridge with a rope around his neck, Farquhar hangs dead, right where he had been the entire time.

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...y, giving him the most hope, is the last thought on his mind before death, and this is what triggers the imaginary adventure Farquhar has on his journey home that is only an illusion in his mind.
Farquhar was faced with death. He knew he was going to die, but still in a horrible moment he had faith. His children and wife gave him hope through the water and dodging the bullets, through the woods and getting home to the plantation, and in his last moments of life he had hope he could make the journey back to them. Everything he had imagined and hoped was all in his head; his last thoughts were of hope in his desperate time, which proves that even in the worst of times, one can still find hope.

Works Cited

Bierce, Ambrose. “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge.” The Norton Introduction to Literature. 11th ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2013. #-#. Print.

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