Analysis Of "An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge"

1185 words - 5 pages

"An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" by Ambrose Bierce is about a middle-aged man named Peyton Farquhar who is punished for his attempt to destroy the Owl Creek Bridge. The short story gives readers a glimpse into the thoughts running through Peyton's delusional head directly before his death and dramatizes a flashback of scenes leading up to the tragic event. Bierce does an outstanding job with his descriptions of scenery and builds up of suspense due to the manipulation of time.The story would not be considered traditional in stages of dramatic development. The story is told in three non-chronological parts. Bierce builds suspense within the first part of the short story by beginning with the middle of the story or rising action. He begins the story with a description of Peyton Farquhar all tied up and ready to be hung. He sets readers up by taking his time in describing the mood, setting, and surroundings. He includes some of Peyton's thoughts and explains the location of the soldiers. "As these thoughts, which have here to be set down in words, were flashed into the doomed man's brain rather than evolved from it, the captain nodded to the sergeant. The sergeant stepped aside." Suddenly, at this suspenseful line, the story jumps to part two. This line also displays a bit of foreshadowing. The word doomed shows that death is likely in the next couple of seconds. At this point, readers find themselves questioning what Farquhar had done to put him in this type predicament and want to read on to find out if Peyton will survive. In part two, Peyton Farquhar has a flashback and readers get some background information on him. Here the events, which led up to part one, are also revealed. In a typical short story, this would have been the orientation. In part two, Bierce also gives readers the climax of the story. The story returns to Farquhar plunging into the water and readers are tricked into thinking he breaks free from the ropes and escapes. Bierce goes into great detail depicting the action of Peyton dodging bullets, making his way through the forest, and returning home to his wife and children. Right when we think Peyton is safe at last, "he feels a stunning blow upon the back of the neck; a blinding white light blazes all about him, with a sound like the shock of a cannon. Peyton Farquhar was dead." These lines conclude the story and readers finally realize his escape was sadly all in his head.The short story is told through a third person-limited point of view. The story is only recounted through the eyes of Peyton. Readers are never given any insight into the thoughts of the soldiers or wife. Although, we are not receiving the story through Peyton's own voice, we still experience his thoughts and feelings. The narrator must be an observer who understands the action well. He or she seems reliable and may have even been a participant in the action being that the descriptions are so vivid. Had the story been told from a different point of view,...

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