“As Peyton Farquhar fell straight downward through the bridge he lost consciousness and was as one already dead” (Bierce). An analysis of Bierce’s use of literary techniques in “An Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge” reveals that the death of the main character has been foreshadowed throughout the story. Time, as well as exaggerated accomplishments, subtly indicate Peyton Farquhar’s eventual demise.
To begin, time is used as a symbol for Peyton’s oncoming death. He knows that he does not have much time left, as demonstrated by the reaction he has to the ticking of his clock, “Its recurrence was regular, but as slow as the tolling of a death knell. He awaited each stroke with impatience and--he knew not why--apprehension” (Bierce). Peyton feels anxiety over the ticking of his clock because time is inching nearer and nearer along with his oncoming death. The watch can also represent Peyton’s distorted sense of time. “The intervals of silence grew progressively longer, the delays became maddening” (Bierce). The reader gets the idea of the slowing down of time. In reality, Farquhar’s death takes only a second, but his mind turns this one moment in time into an hours-long escape from death.
Furthermore, seemingly unrealistic accomplishments symbolize Peyton’s impending doom. Peyton somehow frees himself from the rope. “What splendid effort!--what magnificent, what superhuman strength! Ah, that was a fine endeavor! Bravo! The cord fell away; his arms parted and floated upward” (Bierce). The narrator refers to Peyton as having “superhuman strength”, which in itself is very unlikely, especially considering the fact that he had just fallen from a bridge, and is most definitely wounded from that alone. After Peyton manages to free himself from the rope, he must deal with the soldiers firing above him. “The man in the water saw the eye of the man on the bridge gazing into his own through the sights of the rifle. He observed that it was a grey eye and remembered having read...
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