Analysis Of An Occurrence At Owl Creek

1324 words - 6 pages

Although the story “An Occurrence at Owl Creek,” is ironic, there are other literary elements represented in the story. Perhaps Ambrose Bierce’s most famous works, he used imagery from his own personal experiences in the Civil War, which adds to the suspense of the short story. Imagination is a difficult word to define. The ability to have a daydream, or picture with vivid details, is what imagination could be. An imagination is key for some people, who escape real life into a fantasy world. Bierce's “An Occurrence at Owl Creek” uses point of view, structure, and symbolism to show the power or capability of imagination.
Point of view, was used very effectively in “An Occurrence at Owl Creek.” Although point of view can be effective in any story, the action changes points of view in the story, making for a more shocking end of the story. Since most stories are not told from the authors point of view, but rather from a characters or narrators point of view, this story is told using third-person limited omniscient point of view. For example, the story begins with the reader discovering that a person is about to be hanged. At this present time, the audience does not know why someone is going to be hanged. Bierce gives some indication as to why Peyton is to be hung, such as, “his executioners – two private soldiers of the Federal army, directed by a sergeant…” (Bierce 83). He gave the readers some insight, as to the reason for the hanging. However he still kept the reader in the dark about many things. Bierce holds information from the audience until, the timing is right in the story. For example, Bierce withholds the information about the circumstances behind the hanging until after the hanging occurs. Bierce used this to keep the audience guessing, and to focus more on the action in the particular scene. After discovering the reasons why, the audience has brought into Peyton’s mind. At this point, point of view has not changed in the story, except some information has come away. The audience sees Peyton survive the hanging, and fall. After many vivid scenes, Bierce finally ends the story by bringing the audience out of Peyton’s mind. All of the scenes the audience imagined were fake and imagined by Peyton. He had those vivid details of life, in the split seconds, prior to his death. As mentioned in the introduction, Bierce wrote “An Occurrence at Owl Creek,” and used his accounts of the war effectively in the story. According to Hal Holladay, “the use of the adverb “gently” to describe the movement of Farquhar’s [Peyton’s] dead body…are clear indications of Bierce’s cynicism” (Holladay).
The structure of the story, helps to show the significance of the power of imagination in life. Bierce used structure to help influence this idea, to help reader to understand the main character’s problem in the context of the story. At the beginning of the story, the main character Peyton Farquhar, is shown on a bridge. Peyton, according to the text, “stood...

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