An Analysis of “an Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge

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Antonio “Tony” Carter
26 October 2011
An Analysis of “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge

Ambrose Bierce is known for using both flashbacks and the supernatural in his short story, "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge." Bierce, a product of a struggling farm family of English ancestry, was born on June 24, 1842, in southern Ohio. He was later reared in rural Indiana, although his father, a staunch opponent of slavery, boasted a decent library. Bierce’s literary reputation is based primarily on his short stories about the Civil War and the supernatural. Bierce grew up around the military; he entered a military academy in his teen years and then later on in his life was involved in war. In January of 1914, he disappeared in Mexico while acting as an observer of that country's civil war. He was involved in the U.S. Army, served with the Ninth Indiana Infantry Regiment as a drummer boy. Many believe Bierce wrote about wars so realistically because he’d experience war first hand. Many of Bierce's works are compared to Edgar Allan Poe because their stories share an attraction to death in its more bizarre forms. Bierce also worked as a novelist, journalist, poet, essayist, and a critic.

In the short story "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" Bierce uses flashbacks of the soldiers in war to describe what happened to them throughout the course of war. Many of the soldiers have scary flash backs. In this short story, Bierce describes exactly what the soldiers went through in battle and gives details of those deaths that happened. Although Bierce’s characters are not very well developed in any of his short stories, each story expresses a deep psychological trauma, one that ends in madness or loss. In war, the characters become part of the military. Bierce either tells a lot about the hero in his short stories or as little as he pleases. The hero in "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" is a spy who is about to be hanged. In this short story, many people take for granted...