An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge
It seems that as long as man has interacted with its surroundings, the will to live and the coping of death has been a major factor in human psychology. This struggle is simply exemplified by Ambrose Bierce in the short story, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge.” Peyton Farquhar, the protagonist of the story is full of internal conflict, the struggle between life and death. The will to live and the fear of death propels the reader to dive into Farquhar’s imagination using vivid imagery, emotional verisimilitude and the implications of his final moments as he copes with his imminent fate.
The central conflict develops as Bierce begins to describe the situation at hand. Farquhar is a traitor and is being hung at Owl Creek Bridge. As Bierce describes the situation, Farquhar is hung, however on his descent to death, the rope breaks. Farquhar falls into the river and his struggle to survive begins as he flees the scene while being shot at by union soldiers. As we find out at the end, Farquhar copes with his fear of death by imagining himself living, and essentially escaping.
Bierce’s portrayal of Farquhar’s imagination allows him to escape the reality of his situation, even if it is only for a few brief seconds. The author clearly illustrates the scene at hand saying; “Farquhar imagined swimming vigorously with the current in order to escape the gunshots of the soldiers to run back to his home to see his wife and children. Farquhar’s imagination illustrates the conflict of life and death because by imagining his escape he is essentially replacing reality in his mind, and therefore the situation doesn’t happen, this is how he copes with his immanent demise. In addition to this, the reader has yet to find out that he imagines this. Bierce writes in such a way that to the reader this is reality, strengthening the connection of reality in Farquhar’s mind as in the readers. However Bierce eludes to this imaginative anecdotal type...
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