The soldiers stand at parade rest. . Beyond them, armed sentinels stand at attention. The American Civil War is filled with stories of traitorous spies, or civilians caught and hung for their actions against the enemy. The sound turns out to be the ticking of his watch. Why does he reject what she represents in his reckless mission to suppress Union forces? He stands at the gate of his own home.
Their movements were grotesque and horrible, their forms gigantic. Farquhar experiences an intense delusion to distract him from his inevitable death. His eyes felt congested; he could no longer close them. He shuts his eyes to push away the distractions of his present situation and focus more intently on thoughts of his wife and children. By using his innovative technique of having long periods of time condensed into a moment, Bierce is able to depict the frantic racing of Peyton's mind in the milliseconds before the noose tightens.
All is as he left it, and all bright and beautiful in the morning sunshine. The water roared in his ears like the voice of Niagara, yet he heard the dulled thunder of the volley and, rising again toward the surface, met shining bits of metal, singularly flattened, oscillating slowly downward. The hunted man saw all this over his shoulder; he was now swimming vigorously with the current. Farquhar goes to an alternate place and time where the events he is perceiving feel real but are not actually happening. Suddenly he is spun into a disorienting whirl, then ejected from the river onto a gravelly bank out of sight and range of his would-be executioners and their gunfire. After drinking his water, the man rides off.
A planter, he had been sitting in their yard when a soldier came by and asked for some water. As he is standing at the edge of the bridge, Peyton Farquhar has his wrists bound and a noose around his neck. The less obvious but more important conflict is that of Man against Nature. Bierce increases the heart rate of the reader as the main character relies on pure luck to get away from the firing squad. The soldier tells him that he would be hanged by the northern army. Themes Defenders - A person must be willing to defend his way of life, culture, and family when threatened by an enemy-- the question is: at what cost? Reality and illusion tend to be closely together in this story. Peyton also suffers from delusions of grandeur.
One evening while Farquhar and his wife were sitting on a rustic bench near the entrance to his grounds, a gray-clad soldier rode up to the gate and asked for a drink of water. Farquhar was only too happy to serve him with her own white hands. However, he isn't even experienced enough to recognize his deception at the hands of the federal spy. He was sure they were arranged in some order which had a secret and malign significance. It's a symbol of time pendulums can regulate clocks, like Farquhar's watch Motion: Another prevailing theme Bierce uses to describe the river, Farquhar's emotions, and his lack of motion bound to be hanged , and his sudden and fateful motion falling from the bridge after his neck snaps and he's dead. Did they follow the letter of the Lieber Code? Please discuss this issue on the article's. This story has virtually no dialogue of any kind, except the inner thoughts of Peyton Farquhar as he is about to be hanged, followed by a dream-like flashback that happened as he imagined the rope had broken.
Archived from on 23 October 2008. Suddenly he heard a sharp report and something struck the water smartly within a few inches of his head, spattering his face with spray. The captain stood with folded arms, silent, observing the work of his subordinates, but making no sign. Death is represented by the menacing group of Union soldiers assembled on the bridge and the hillside. At last he found a road which led him in what he knew to be the right direction.
Beyond one of the sentinels nobody was in sight; the railroad ran straight away into a forest for a hundred yards, then, curving, was lost to view. The moment of horror that the readers experience at the end of the piece, when they realize that he dies, reflects the distortion of reality that Farquhar encounters. One lodged between his collar and neck; it was uncomfortably warm and he snatched it out. He has probably already given the command to fire at will. This plank had been held in place by the weight of the captain; it was now held by that of the sergeant.
The story ends with the image of Farquhar hanging below the Owl Creek Bridge. The arrangement commended itself to his judgment as simple and effective. Compare their themes, tone, literary techniques, and context within the Civil War genre. The thought of his family urges him on. Encompassed in a luminous cloud, of which he was now merely the fiery heart, without material substance, he swung through unthinkable arcs of oscillation, like a vast pendulum. One evening in the past, Farquhar and his wife were sitting on the edge of their property when a gray-clad soldier rode up, seeking a drink of water. Short Story Criticism, volume 72.
The man he learned this information from appeared at first to be a Confederate soldier, which is why Farquhar and his wife provided him with shelter and respite. He must have traveled the entire night. From Fiction to Film: An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge. What examples of military etiquette or rules of conduct are described in the story? The first section opens on the impending execution of Peyton Farquhar, a civilian Confederate sympathizer. He noted the prismatic colors in all the dewdrops upon a million blades of grass. He is caught and, therefore, awaits hanging from the very bridge he tried to destroy.
We know of the officers who are there and the fashion by which they will hang him. It seems that Farquhar is awakened by the cold current of the river, having lost consciousness after the noose broke and he fell from the bridge. Do we know whether Farquhar actually burned the bridge? His tongue was swollen with thirst; he relieved its fever by thrusting it forward from between his teeth into the cold air. Plot Summary The story is divided into three sections. The soldiers had almost finished reloading; the metal ramrods flashed all at once in the sunshine as they were drawn from the barrels, turned in the air, and thrust into their sockets. Time comes to a near halt as Peyton, in his daydream, has managed to fall into the stream that he was being hanged over, and tries to make his escape.