Perceptions in An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge and The Story of an Hour

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Perceptions in An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge and The Story of an Hour

In "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" and "The Story of an Hour," the authors use similar techniques to create different tones, which in turn illicit very distinct reactions from the reader. Both use a third person narrator with a limited omniscient point of view to tell of a brief, yet significant period of time. In "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge," Bierce uses this method to create an analytical tone to tell the story of Farquhar's experience just before death. In "The Story of an Hour," Chopin uses this method to create an involved, sympathetic tone to relay the story of Mrs. Mallard's experience just before death. These stories can be compared on the basis of their similar points of view and conclusions as well as their different tones.

In "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge," Ambrose Bierce recreates a few brief seconds of time for a man being executed whose cognition of these seconds is perceived as the better part of a full day. "All that day he traveled…" (paragraph 33). "In "The Story of an Hour," Kate Chopin relates a meaningful, yet unusual hour of time as the last one lived for a woman who has been given the news of her husband's death in a "railroad disaster" (paragraph 2). "She did not hear the story as many women have heard the same, with a paralyzed inability to accept its significance. She wept at once, with sudden, wild abandonment…" (paragraph 3). Both stories are centered on the powerful emotions that occur within the minds of the characters as they live out the last moments of their lives. The narrators reveal the most intimate thoughts of each character.

In "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, " Bierce focuses on...

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... the truth that results in great surprise at the end of each story when both main characters die.

Neither short story would have been as effective without the narrator revealing the thoughts of the protagonist. By emphasizing individual perspectives, the author's shift the focus from the external action to the internal experiences of each protagonist. The power and depth of the ideas are successfully delivered because the reader is permitted insight into the characters' thoughts. The analytical tone created by Bierce is a detailed and thorough examination of the character's thoughts before her death while Chopin's sympathetic tone is responsible for allowing the reader to feel affectionate for Mrs. Mallard's plight prior to her death. Both stories arrive at these similar conclusions with opposing tones through the successful use of third person point of view.
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