Important Elements To An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge

968 words - 4 pages

An important element to this short story is its circular plot structure. The way it is revealed is actually quite brilliant. The story is made into three parts; it interchanges from the present to the past and back to the present. The first part of story opens up with "A man stood upon a railroad bridge in northern Alabama, looking down into the swift water twenty feet below. The man's hands were behind his back, the wrists bound with a cord. A rope closely encircled his neck. It was attached to a stout cross-timber above his head and the slack fell to the level of his knees" (Bierce 83). This is the framework created for the story. The railroad bridge that the man is standing on in the opening of the story also turns out to be the same bridge that the man dies hanging from in the third and final part of the story. When reading this first part a reader might wonder right away who this man is and what he could have possibly done to deserve this type of punishment. Though, the who and why is not revealed in this part, a reader will soon discover the details of the events leading up to Peyton Farquhar's doom. It is unfolded in the second part. It is also reveals what kind of man Peyton Farquhar is. As the second part of the story shifts into the opening of the third part one might immediately believe he is a goner for sure when he falls through the railroad bridge. But wait! He manages to escape with just an exceedingly sore neck and heads toward his plantation, offering great reprieve to a reader. As he is about to greet his wife at the gate of his own home he takes a blow to the back of his neck. Instead of dying from an actual cannon at his home and perhaps in the arms of his wife, like a reader might have thought, he is dead with a broken neck and hanging from the timbers of Owl Creek Bridge. The final sentence of the story is compelling enough to even snap a reader back to reality. This circular plot structure causes a reader to build sympathy for Farquhar; he is a human with faults just like any of the rest of us. Therefore, the circular plot structure is critical to this story's development.
Another important element to this story is the point of view. The narration shifts throughout different parts of the story, third-person omniscient. Parts of the story are narrated from Peyton Farquhar's point of view of and other parts narrated from Ambrose Bierce, the author. The first segment of the story begins with an entirely neutral description. After the description of the complete setting, including Peyton Farquhar, the narration transitions into Peyton Farquhar's mind. "He looked a moment at his "unsteadfast footing," then let his gaze wander to the swirling water of the...

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