An Occurrence on Owl Creek Bridge

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A Review of An Occurrence on Owl Creek Bridge

The story "An Occurrence On Owl Creek Bridge" is a historical fiction created by Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914). Ambrose strives to create a dramatic, detailed story using selective recollection and symbolism to establish a vibrant mental image. His ambition is to deliver to the reader a softer version of a violent story. The plot of Ambrose's story is to have the reader first clenching their teeth, then to relax and feel the elixir of life subdue them until once again bringing them to a teeth clenching and inevitable ending.

The exposition of the story describes the protagonist, Peyton Farquhar who is a plantation owner, husband and father, standing upon a bridge preparing to be hung. Bierce uses very dynamic descriptions in order to have the reader believe that this common planter may merely be an innocent civilian. An example of this is the line "he had a kindly expression" as well as "Evidently this was no vulgar assassin". (318, 3) The beginning of the climax is in the belief Farquhar is about to perish. Then, continuing the rise of suspense, Farquhar's rope breaks and he falls down into the safety of the creek below. Or so Bierce has the reader believe. During the time the rope breaks and the end of the story, the reader is taken on a detailed adventure down the swirling creek, into the forest and back to his home.

The basis of the plot revolves around Ambrose Bierce's ability to establish an illusion for the reader that creates a very different belief than that of the reality. This type of a plot, which downplays what is actually happening and instead lets the reader inside the head of the protagonist is very convincing. The saying, you don't know how it feels until you walk a mile in my shoes, very neatly describes the way Bierce shaped this plot. Using this form of structure the reader is emotionally involved with the character, not just hooked on the storyline. It feels as though the...
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