I think that the outcome of Ambrose Bierce’s story, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,” was credible because Bierce hints that Peyton Farquhar, the main character, is dead throughout his journey. If the reader pays close attention to the story, it becomes obvious that the escape is imagined and he is actually going to be hanged.
The first piece of evidence that Farquhar is hallucinating is how unaware he is of his own struggle to free himself underwater. Farquhar states that “he was not conscious of an effort, but a sharp pain in his wrist [told] him that he was trying to free his hands” suggesting that he isn’t actually aware of his own attempts at escape (Bierce 493). Some may argue that Farquhar wasn’t aware of his effort because he had an adrenaline rush, but the injuries are too close to the injuries of a hanging to be ignored.
The second piece of evidence that Farquhar didn’t escape is the pain in his neck and head. As he is fighting to get free, Farquhar describes how “his neck ached horribly; [and] his brain was on fire” (Bierce 494). A person struggling at the end of a hanging rope would experience the same pain. He simply imagines breaking free as he dies, but in reality, the intense pain is caused from the noose tightening and eventually choking Farquhar. His freedom swim is clearly a dying dream.
The third piece of evidence that proves that Farquhar imagined his freedom is the unbelievable detailed description of nature. There is no sort of adrenaline rush that could show the “prismatic colors in all the dewdrops upon a million blades of grass” just for Farquhar (Bierce 494). It is more probable that Farquhar imagined his escape right as he strangled to death.
In conclusion, the ending of “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” was credible and powerful because it hints to the reader that Farquhar doesn’t survive and merely dreams of the beautiful escape from his horrible fate.
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