An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce

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Ever find yourself in a horrifying situation, wishing it was only a nightmare you would soon wake up from, only to realize it's reality that is sealed due to the uncontrollable circumstance? In the fictional short story, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”, author Ambrose Bierce tells the story of a man who finds himself in such a situation. Part one begins with an unnamed fugitive and a group of Federal Union Soldiers standing on a railroad bridge in Alabama. The story takes place during the American Civil War. The man is a civilian plantation owner who is awaiting execution by way of hanging. As he waits, the man stares down at the water below the bridge thinking about the ways he could escape and find his way home to his family. Then suddenly, the captain nods his head and the man is hung. Part two transitions into a detailed description of the main character, Peyton Farquhar, a wealthy slave owner from Alabama. He was a Confederate supporter determined to support the army by any means necessary. Peyton was not able to join the army due to personal issues, yet devoted his life for an opportunity to serve. When a soldier dressed in a Confederate uniform rides up to his house asking for water, an opportunity finally arises. The soldier explains that Union troops are in the process of rebuilding a bridge over Owl Creek. The soldier also informs Peyton there has been an order issued stating anyone interfering with the construction of the bridge will be hanged. Then, after telling Peyton a pile of highly flammable driftwood lies near the bridge, the soldier leaves. After nightfall, the soldier again passed the plantation heading north. Turns out he was a federal scout. Part Three of the story transitions the reader back to the o... ... middle of paper ... ...I personally will strive to improve my character, stay determined, and hope every traumatic situation I face will be met with a fight response. In this story, Ambrose Bierce, gives the reader an opportunity to face reality and humanness. With detailed descriptions of his character and the setting, we are placed in an awkward predicament. We are forced to look beyond the side of war and side with the fugitive. Works Cited Richard B. McCaslin, "GREAT HANGING AT GAINESVILLE," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed February 01, 2014. Published by the Texas State Historical Association
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