Ironical Elements in Ambrose Bierces An Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge
An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge Isn’t that ironic?
The short fiction An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge written by the famous author in late 19 century, Ambrose Bierce once again amaze us by its surprising ending. No one could suspect that the main character, Farquhar s escape was only his dream. But to support this ironic and surprise conclusion, Ambrose describe well on plot,character and setting.
When reading the story for the second time, it seems to be more interesting because you now know the plot. The plot puts all the pieces of the puzzle together that were left apart during the first reading. For example, you now know that Peyton Farquhar is the man that is being hanged without having to read almost to the end of the story, and also why the hanging is taking place. Even though the story doesn’t really have a special time when it took place, the site where it occurred plays a big part.
This story could have taken place two hundred years ago, or even this year and it would not have mattered; but being that it was at Owl Creek Bridge made all the difference. This is mainly because this bridge is where Peyton supposedly had interfered when warned by some unknown soldier that interfering could result in being hanged.There are some instances of foreshadowing in the plot, because at the end of section I, Peyton imagines his whole escape.
He talks about how he dives into the stream with his hands free, dodges bullets, and escapes through the woods to his home where his wife and kids are waiting for him. The foreshadowing is very effective when reading for the second time, because in the first reading, you are not aware that this is going to happen at all. The characters in this particular story that were of importance seemed to have been Peyton Farquhar and the grey-clad soldier that told him of the bridge.
None of the characters are revealed directly, but indirectly. The narrator defines each character in his/her own unique way. Peyton is revealed in the plot as just being a civilian that was going to be hanged. The narrator does do a good job of telling us his thoughts and feelings, and also by giving us a good image, as to what he looks like. However it is not until the beginning of section II, that we find out that the character that was being described is actually Peyton.
On a different note though, the grey-clad soldier was described only briefly. He was described as a dusty horseman, who evidently seemed to be a grey-clad soldier. The narrator didn’t leave us with a name, distinct features of how he looked or how he was dressed. It was solely at the end of he/she talking about the soldier that she reveals that he really is a Federal Scout that has come or either was sent to set Peyton up.The author plays a role in causing you to sympathize with Peyton, because in the plot you don’t even know who he is or what he has done to deserve to be hanged.
He/she has Peyton to think on escaping to be with his wife and little ones, which causes us to think he could be a family oriented man. In the first reading it was not until the end that you really stop sympathizing for Peyton because although the mysterious soldier warned him of why he could be hanged if interfering with the bridge and also tells him a way he could destroy it if he wanted to, he goes along and evidently does it.
The soldier probably knows that Peyton is a very devoted man and would do practically anything for the south. Even if he was devoted to the Southern cause, that still doesn’t make it a wise choice for him to even try to endanger himself or his family. A little sympathy may arise when it comes down to thinking about his wife and little kids that are left behind without a husband and father.
As you can tell, some attitudes may change a little when you read for a second time and get to know a little more about Peyton. When thinking of the point of view of the story, it mainly is that the mind is a very powerful and controlling thing. It can make things that are not really real seem real in an instant.
This view really helps shape the story because as a reader you (your mind) tends to believe that Peyton’s escape was really happening, when in reality it never occurred at all. The narrator appears to be a very imaginative person that likes to explore his/her surroundings and to take the reader far enough as to let the mind imagine many things; real or not real, which is probably her limit.
In this story, I think the setting plays another big part because it is divided into three different sections. Section I actually tells the reader about when Peyton was about to be hanged and leads us from the beginning of the ceremony to the end where he is actually hanged. It then goes on to Section II, where it tells us how he found out about Owl Creek Bridge, and what could happen if a civilian interfered with anything dealing with the bridge.
Last of all there is Section III, which tells the reader about Peyton’s hallucination of escaping the hanging. If the author wanted to just tell the story in order, he could have went in the order of Section II, I, and the III. As in the plot, this story could have happened in another place and time. We still have countries that still have hangings even now. The style of the story is not really based on the narrator’s distinct style, but the author’s.
The author of this story which happens to be Ambrose Bierce (1842-1913?), was enlisted with the Indiana Infantry for duty in the Civil War. The horrors of war shaped his attitudes with an enduring pessimism, and his war stories (like An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge) are among the first to treat the subject with detailed realism (The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction, R.V. Cassill, pp. 63). Bierce seems to have a liking for writing stories about war and this particular stories just represents/symbolizes his style of writing.
This story was probably an event that happened to a friend or someone he knew while he was in war, and he decided to write about it. A theme for this story could be embodied in the thought that Peyton was willing to die for the Southern cause. Some people will die or put their life on the line for what they believe in. In some way, this theme appeals to me because those that might be of the religious type or that believe in Jesus Christ, know that he put his life on the line and died for all of our sins, so that we could live (Note: This is just what I believe and I hope it does not offend anyone that has a different opinion. If it does offend you, please accept my apology.).
Another example could be a mother risking her life to save her child from being harmed in anyway. Is the story more or less interesting this time, now that you know the plot? The story was more interesting once you figured out the plot, because it gets you to want to continue to read the story and to see what is going to happen to this man, that was about to be killed. What else did you read in this story to make you see the plot?If a character changes, why and how does he or she change.
Peyton Farquhar changes in the story to me , because from the beginning of the story you really don t know why he is going to be hung, and then when you read that he went into this fantasy and expected the men that were going to hang were hanging him for nothing. Also when they told you about his family and his loving wife, you think why are they killing this man if he has to take care his family, and is a good well know person.
Tell me your opinion that if you think that Peyton Farquhar has changed in the story. How does the author cause you to sympathize with certain characters? Peyton Farquhar is about to loose his life because he was going to go and burn down the bridge that the union had won form the confederates so that they wouldn t be able to cross the bridge and cause harm to them and get more land, Peyton thought that he was doing his country some good but inturn he looses his life for it.
How can you sympathize for Peyton? What expectations do you have for a story like this? You want to find out what the individual did to deserve death, and were they going to actaully kill him for this or not.What other expectations in the middle of the story when Peyton diff s off into his dream give you different expectations aboubt if he is going to live or not?
After you have read the story was your expectation about Peyton s life what you thought might happen? In conclusion, this story really ironical ending and the author plays a great role in causing you to sympathize with Peyton, because in the plot you don’t even know who he is or what he has done to deserve to be hanged. He/she has Peyton to think on escaping to be with his wife and little ones, which causes us to think he could be a family oriented man.