An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge
3 Pages 750 Words
The story, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” by Ambrose Bierce, a man by the name of Peyton Farquhar is hanged for opposing the Northern troops. The story is broken into three chapters or sub-stories. The first chapter sets up the scene of the hanging and its location. The second brings to light Peyton’s personal life and his character. The third and final chapter tells of his escape from the soldiers, which is actually a dream sequence. Bierce gives minute and delicate clues to let the reader understand Peyton is actually dreaming and not escaping.
The very first lines of chapter three give numerous clues as to what has actually happen to Peyton. “As Peyton Farquhar fell straight downward through the bridge he lost consciousness and was as one already dead. From this state he was awakened-ages later, it seemed to him-by the pain of the sharp pressure upon his throat, followed by a sense of suffocation.” (1481) Bierce basically uses the first line to explain that Peyton was now dead, and the reader would believe it. He then purposely throws in a twist with the second line, saying Peyton was now awakened and feeling the pain of the rope suffocating him. From a reader’s perspective, Peyton is actually alive, fighting for his life, but there are two keys words that Bierce uses to hint to the reader that this is actually a dream, “ages later.” These two words along with the hyphen present a clear and discrete image. They describe the beginning of a dream, where everything seems out of place at first, but become very real and clear to the dreamer.
Often times in a dream, a person believes themselves to be able to achieve a task they wouldn’t be able to do in their everyday life. “What splendid effort!-what magnificent, what superhuman strength! Ah, that was a fine endeavor! Bravo!” (1482) Peyton is now under water after falling from the bridge, and struggling to get the ropes off his wrist. He sud...
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