Comparing Chickamauga And An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge

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Literary Analysis In both “Chickamauga” and “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” Ambrose Pierce paints vivid images of both fantasy and reality. It seems that Bierce’s goal is to ultimately display reality as clearly and harshly as possible, and this is done by contrasting reality with fantasy. In both stories, Bierce creates a somewhat nightmarish world, and although sprinkled with scenes of beauty, both end in tragedy. In the stories Bierce attempts to dash fantasies of a Romantic world view, and display the cold and unfair reality of the world. Unlike “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”, “Chickamauga” begins quite innocently, with a boy exploring the woods, letting the reader admire the child’s playfulness and perhaps reminisce to doing…show more content…
A large portion of the text in “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” is just Peyton’s imagination, and the details are quite vivid. Obviously, the boy in “Chickamauga” uses his imagination freely, from his pretend sword to riding the wounded soldiers like horses. It seems that this is part of Bierce’s denouncement of romanticism. Peyton’s escape, daring and unbelievable, is only his imagination. It is as if Bierce is communicating that these types of things only happen in the imagination; in reality the man uneventfully hangs and dies. The point Bierce makes is that Romanticism is just an imaginative view of the world. He attempts to make it quite clear that the world is unfair, tragic, and cruel, something Bierce had experienced firsthand. The wording used in both stories paints very realistic and grotesque images, like when the jawless soldier is described; “from the upper teeth to the throat was a great red gap fringed with hanging shreds of flesh and splinters of bone.”(Bierce) This type of description goes along with Bierce’s attempt to show true, gruesome reality, and we see it again when the boy’s mother is seen with her skull agape. Bierce also describes more beautiful scenes in a similar manner, allowing the reader to imagine vivid and detailed images. Perhaps the most prominent example of his vivid description is when Peyton emerges from the water; “He looked at the forest on the bank of the stream, saw the…show more content…
In both, innocent people are killed. War is a common theme in romanticism, characterized by images of valiant warriors, exciting battles, and glory. Bierce contrasts that by showing realistic results of war; a family man trying to do his part is hung, a child is orphaned, and disfigured men helplessly crawl to water. Bierce’s writing style has been called “realism,” as it attempts to make light of what war really is. Bierce was inclined to write about war as he was a veteran of the Civil War himself. His veteran status actually makes his descriptions of the wounded even more haunting, since it is a true to life depiction based on things he had actually seen. The stories are not so much an indictment of war itself as they are indictments of people’s skewed perception of war. Bierce paints a picture of war for what it really is; a tragic and horrible thing, rather than a glorious

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