Theme Of Life And Death In An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge

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Life and Death in “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” Originally published in 1890 by author and Civil War Veteran Ambrose Bierce, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” is a short story that explores a civilian’s final moments before death during the Civil War. Centering on a man, this story opens on a profoundly ambiguous scene: preparations are being made for the hanging of a civilian man by Union troops on the Owl Creek bridge. The military men finish their preparations and step off of the plank, allowing the man to be hanged. The man, Peyton Farquhar, is a wealthy southern plantation and slave owner who strongly supports the southern cause. One day a Confederate soldier arrives at his house and informs Farquhar that the Union troops are…show more content…
This lack of distinction between the living and the dead can be seen through Farquhar’s perception of the reality of his escape. Near the end of Part 1 of the story, Farquhar is set to be hanged. Maintaining some sense of hope, he imagines an escape plan in his head; one that is entirely impossible and unrealistic given his current situation. However, in Part 3 of the story, Farquhar seems to experience an escape from his hanging; one that is entirely believable and realistic in the way that it is described. Although he is, in fact, dead, he described an elaborate escape that he experienced in which he “sprang to his feet, rushed up the sloping bank, and plunged into the forest” (Bierce) away from the soldiers and would see him eventually “standing at the gate of his own home” (Bierce 6). Clearly, Farquhar’s vision of escape when he is still living is not believable at all, whereas his vision of escape as he has died (or is dying) is presented as being logical and real. This emphasizes Bierce’s blurring of the line between life and death as the false reality he experiences during death is somehow entirely more believable than his vision of escape as a living man. Farquhar’s perception of reality also emphasizes the concept of the blurred line between life and death through his description of the wildlife he sees during his…show more content…
These themes work in unison to provide the reader with an intellectually satisfying and thought provoking short story that was expertly crafted by Ambrose

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