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 similar things as a child. Even the scare by the rabbit is not farfetched as the boy is only six. The story begins to turn dark when the boy identifies that the crawling figures are indeed men. In this scene Bierce follows a theme of a fantastical buildup followed by a blunt and clear statement of reality. The boy sees the figure, and thinks it may be a dog, a pig, or even a bear. Then it is revealed that there are more of the figures, and the reader’s curiosity peaks. At this peak of curiosity Bierce bluntly states, “They were men.”(Bierce) A mere three word sentence, it makes quite an impact. Bierce does this when he wants to make the reader feel a sudden jolt of reality, almost a shock. Perhaps Bierce’s prime example of this is at the end of “An Occurrence at owl Creek Bridge.” The reader follows along in Farquhar’s fantasy escape, all the while thinking that he is really escaping. At the climactic moment when he finally sees his wife, the words are read, “Peyton Farquhar was dead,” again ...
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...lly 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 contest.
In “Chickamauga” and “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” Ambrose Bierce paints a tragically realistic picture of war, and life in general. In the stories Bierce attempts to depict life in the way that it really happens, not the way people wish for it to happen. His style of writing, “realism”, sharply contrasts romanticism, and is quite a harsh critique of it. Bierce holds nothing back when describing the world from his perspective, and successfully relays his emotion, or lack there-of, to the reader.
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