An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge Literary Analysis

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Ambrose Bierce’s “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” revolves around the manipulation of time through the conflict of man versus nature. Bierce uses time in his favor as he switches between the past and the present life of the main character, Peyton Farquhar, as he lives his last moments. He uses this to show how time can be “subjective and phenomenal during times of emotional distress”. (BookRags). The manipulation of time that is unnoticeable whilst reading the story strengthens the themes that are present in this work, such as man’s denial of mortality, and the conjuring of irrational situations. The story begins with Confederate farmer, Peyton Farquhar, staring down into the water, noose around his neck, surrounded by soldiers who are responsible for his unfortunate demise. In the moments leading up to his hanging, his reality and perception of time become distorted and, "A sound which he could neither ignore nor …show more content…

The soldiers around Peyton before his death can be seen as the personification of death itself, the faceless troops look on with order and cold precision, and Peyton remarks that “gentlemen are not excluded,” implying that just as death does not discriminate, neither do these soldiers. At the time that Peyton is being hung, he creates a fantasy in his mind that he has survived this, even though he is surrounded by these soldiers, by death, which finalizes his fate. Choosing not to accept his death, as many people continue to do even today, in a split second his mind creates a wild vision, that is devised to protect him from the reality of his inescapable death. This vision could have been conjured in the seconds before he truly died, with simple thoughts of escape, or a dream to see his wife and family one last time. But his thoughts do not save him, as death is a reality that must be accepted by all, and he meets his end while still grasping at

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