An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge

1311 words - 5 pages

Ambrose Bierce's "An Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge" seems to have been written to skillfully play with the minds of its readers. The ending of "An Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge" can prompt the question, "What just happened?" Present becomes the past, gets lost in a sort of dream world and then comes back to the present sense again. Bierce's infamous character Peyton Farquhar is known to raise eyebrows just by the mention of his name. Farquhar's grizzly end was due to a clever disguise by a Federal Scout, but exactly how clever was it? What if this entire ordeal was planned in such a way to have Farquhar killed on purpose?

As quoted from the short story, "Peyton Farquhar was a well to do planter, of an old and highly respected Alabama family." (Bierce, Section II) Since Farquhar is obviously experienced in his work and does a good job at it too, then people must know about him. Coming from a respected family also puts his name out there. In today's modern society, the wealthy and famous have their every move tracked down to the tee. If Peyton Farquhar family tree is one that is well known then most people in the village must be aware of his whereabouts. "Being a slave owner and like other slave owners a politician, he was naturally an original secessionist and ardently devoted to the Southern cause". (Bierce Section II) The phrase "being a slave owner and like other slave owners a politician" is Bierce's own use of an aphorism, a tersely phrased statement of a truth or opinion. Bierce also uses a great deal of imagery, not only in this section but the entire short story as well, to put a strong visual into the reader's mind of how the war is being fought. The fact that Bierce considers a slave owner to be synonymous with a politician, goes to show how much power Peyton Farquhar has, and how that power could possibly be the leading cause of his demise. These owners have control over their slaves, and they usually have a large say in important matters. When the "gray-clad soldier" first appears at the entrance of Farquhar's home, both he and his wife are ecstatic to be service to a soldier. Not once does it pass through their minds that this man might be holding a disguise and not who he claims to be. The fact that any other person who is as equally devoted to victory as Faquhar, might deceive him, has never passed through his mind.

The soldier talked of how the "Yanks" (a slang term used by Bierce to describe the "Yankees" or in simple terms, anyone who lived in the North during the war), were repairing the railroads, and that they are preparing for another advance. He also notes how the Union commandant has posted a order saying that anyone interfering with the railroad, bridges, tunnels or trains will be hanged. After learning that the soldier Farquhar talked to was actually fighting for the North, and after babbling about what might be accomplished if a man were to interfere with the Yanks on the bridge, Farquhar is...

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