An Occurence At Owl Creek Bridge

953 words - 4 pages

"An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" Man has long attempted to explain the subtleties of the mind, how it works, and what it is capable of. Even in the days before Freud, people began to understand that what is experienced during consciousness is not all that is capable of being experienced, and that sometimes the mind can take over and provide scenarios visible only to the thinker regardless of what may be going on in real life. The story of "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" is a story about just that, a man's life all at the instant of his death. The theme to this story may be commonplace to us now, but in the time of the author, Androse Bierce, it was something of a revolutionary idea; the mind is capable of creating any kind of reality that we most desire to see, in spite of circumstances that would negate any ability to believe that the things occurring in one's mind are true. Bierce, through the skillful use of point of view and imagery, proves this to the reader.As the first scene opens in the story, we see a man standing over a bridge with a noose about his neck, as his execution is about to occur. We learn little more than that he is a "gentleman" by the name of Peyton Farquhar (Bierce 82). The man has a thought before he is to be thrown over the side, and that is "if I could free my hands," (82) from which an entire story develops. He sees himself fleeing after the rope snaps and swimming in the creek while dodging shots from Union soldiers making his way home. At the moment of his arrival, his neck snaps for the reader to discover that he never left the bridge, and that all that had happened was in his mind in the instant that he was falling off the bridge to his death.The illusion of his mind is very difficult to pierce, but upon closer inspection, the reader can see the little manifestations of reality on this alternate reality that Farquhar is experiencing. As he frees his hands, he gives reference to his own "superhuman strength" (84), often a fantasy people would associate with being restrained in some way. He also begins to note his surroundings with an ability that no human being can possess, as he can now see the "veining of each leaf - the very insects upon them," (84) as his mind attempts to assure him that he is truly alive and experiencing these things around him. As all heroes, he dodges the bullets fired at him and manages to make his way home. As he approaches the yard of his own house, he begins to feel pain about his neck, and his tongue and eyes swollen, most likely all...

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