Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge

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Out of all the stories I have read in class so far, An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce, has touched me most. When I first began reading the story I felt as though I was not interested, because my assumptions of what the story was going to be about were completely different than the stories actual content. As I set aside my judgment and let myself try to enjoy the story, I found myself anxiously reading to the bitter end. This story was not only interesting and unique, but also had an added twist at the end, which surprised most readers. Depending on how observant the reader is with picking up on foreshadowing and symbolic meaning, one may realize before the final sentences that Peyton Farquar was not actually escaping home but in fact hallucinating while desperately trying to escape the hangmen.
Ambrose Bierce chose to write this story in third person limited omniscient point of view to help the reader understand the story from the main character’s mind, Peyton Farquar. During the story you only see what happens through Peyton’s eyes. Therefore, you do not realize that most of the narrative reflects Peyton’s imagination. Choosing this type of view also lets the author focus more on the emotions and thoughts of the main character. The author does not let the reader see into the eyes of the men hanging him, but after reading the story one will understand that their point of view was not needed and would have actually taken away from the story if done so. His creative way of inventing this story would not have affected me and many other readers if written any other way.
Bierce broke this story down into three parts. The first part of the narrative creates an atmosphere with the setting at Owl Creek Bridge. Great detail is told here as to who is present at the scene, what is happening, what the scene looks like, etc. But the reader only receives ideas and thoughts from one person, Peyton Farquar. The first part as like the other two parts of this story is written very systematically and clear. Even with such a structured set up, the author still manages to put great anticipation and fearsome emotion into the near end of the first part of this story. At this point the author makes the reader think Peyton is devising a way to set his hands free from the rope thereby beginning his journey to escape home.
The second part of the story shifts as the...

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...tom of the steps she stands waiting, with a smile of ineffable joy, an attitude of matchless grace and dignity. Ah, how beautiful she is! He springs forward with extended arms.” This last full paragraph clearly shows signs of Peyton’s acceptance of what is happening, almost as if he has given up and freed himself from the struggle as he sees the light.
Out of all the stories I have read so far in class, I found this story the most interesting and realistic piece. It never occurred to me that thoughts such as those mentioned in the story could actually be going through a dieing man’s mind. In fact, I show even more ignorance in that I have never thought about what is it truly like to experience a process of expected death. This kind of tragedy once happened on a day-to-day basis. Imagine all the other elaborate emotions going through the minds of others dieing. Bierce did a great job in putting true emotion into this story. I along with most of my class members agreed that we had no idea Peyton’s escape home did not occur at all until the final words of this story. For an author to create something so realistically disguised until the bitter end is truly an amazing accomplishment.
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