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An Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge Summary

In: English and Literature

Submitted By Babygirlll214
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An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge
Ambrose Bierce A man and his executioners stand on a railroad bridge in Alabama. The Civil War has begun and military justice is about to be served; the only spectators are a handful of soldiers. The man to be executed is a civilian dressed in the clothes of a plantation owner, and his executioners are Union soldiers. As he waits for his executioners to start, the man looks down at the water below him and imagines ways he could escape home to his wife and children. With a nod of the captain's head, the hanging begins. Part 2 introduces Peyton Farquhar, a wealthy Alabamian slave owner. Farquhar is not in the army because of personality issues, but he is determined to support the Confederate cause. An opportunity appears when a soldier dressed in a gray Confederate uniform rides up to his house. The soldier tells him that Union troops are repairing railroads in the surrounding area and have recently rebuilt the nearby bridge over Owl Creek. Apparently the chief has issued an order saying that any civilian caught tampering with the railroad will be hanged. The soldier leaves after informing Farquhar that a pile of flammable timber was piled up near the bridge. An hour later, the soldier rides past the Farquhar residence heading north. It turns out that he is actually a Union scout. Part 3 begins with Farquhar falling through the bridge. Unable to think wisely, he feels himself freeing his hands from their bindings, removing the noose around his neck, and pushing up to the surface. Diving beneath the water keeps him safe from the soldiers' bullets and he swims with the current toward the opposite shore. Narrowly evading a cannonball, Farquhar gets caught in a vortex that eventually moves him onto the sand. Celebrating his escape, Farquhar hurries toward home, traveling all day through a wild forest straight out of a horror movie. By nightfall, Farquhar reaches the gate to his home. He sees his wife, but, as he is about to grasp her, he feels a powerful blow against the back of his neck. Bright white light turns to complete darkness. Farquhar is dead, his neck is broken, and his body hangs beneath Owl Creek Bridge. Farquhar never escaped at all; he imagined the entire third part of the story during the time between falling through the bridge and the noose finally breaking his neck. The entire story takes place at Owl Creek Bridge in northern Alabama during the Civil War. Farquhar believes the story takes place at Owl Creek Bridge in northern Alabama, down stream from Owl Creek Bridge, and at his home. The obvious conflict is Peyton Farquhar vs. the Federal army (not really a fair fight, if you ask me). There is also an internal conflict as Farquhar battles the fear of dying by remembering what is most special to him. The story is broken into three parts. Part 1 is the exposition. Part 2 gives background information on Peyton Farquhar. Part 3 contains all the action. An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" themes include the realities of war, the suddenness of death, the fluidity of time, and the distortion of reality and illusion. Key points : Between his dropping and dying, he imagines diving into the water, freeing his hands and neck, swimming to safety, and running into the arms of his wife. Farquhar is hanged. The story demands some knowledge of the reader. The author is expecting that the reader understands the historical event as it is appropriate to the plot of the story; he does not include a background explanation about the war. The author understands the reader has only a general knowledge of the American Civil War and therefore explains specialized details more descriptively. The ideal audience for the story would include people who know more about the American Civil War and Civil War military procedure which are important to comprehending the plot.

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