Owl Creek Bridge Structure

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Throughout this paper, I will study “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”, which is a short story written by the American author Ambrose Bierce. The story is set during the Civil war and was published by The San Francisco Examiner on July the 13th, 1890. Using my own opinion and the scholarly work of others, I will investigate the effectiveness in which the ambiguous structure engages the reader within the text. Moreover, I will reference my own experiences and views which I have in relation to the text. Finally, I will investigate how details within the text both undercut and reinforce the reality of the experience.
Engaging the reader is essential in the success of any piece of text. Without this, the reader will not remember or understand
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However, it can be a great technique to engage the audience. In literary works that create highly structured sequences of mental images, emotional responses are organized in sequences that, like narrative structures, have a beginning, middle, and end. Emotionally charged, imaginative sequences give shape and meaning to human life (Carroll 2). In my opinion, ‘An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge’ uses this technique as Farquhar’s life is mentioned in great detail which allows the reader to understand him. Another factor which affects the bond between reader and character is the character’s situation. Firstly, Farquhar has been deceived which makes him seem innocent and vulnerable. Secondly, he is portrayed as a family man. For example, the text states “He closed his eyes in order to fix his last thoughts upon his wife and children.” (Bierce 319) Family is blessing which we can all relate to. The reader is then concerned for his family and contemplates the children growing up without a Father. Thirdly, Farquhar is only moments away from death. These major factors allow the reader to sympathize for Farquhar. This connection makes the reader concerned to find out his fate. They therefore carry on reading, probing for answers. I consider this to be fully engaged within the…show more content…
I also enjoyed the fact that I had an element of control in deciding the ending. At first I believed that Farquhar had completed the great escape against all odds. It seems an impossible outcome, but due to the fictional nature of the story I contemplated whether it could, in fact, occur. The in-depth detail of the escape allowed me to visualise the situation. For example, the river bank was described as “The trees upon the bank were giant garden plants; he noted a definite order in their arrangement, inhaled the fragrance of their blooms.” (Bierce 323) This complex description persuaded me that perhaps, he had in fact made it. However, after taking to time to think rationally, I figured that Farquhar’s escape was impossible and the description of the escape was only fantasy. I considered factors such as the soldiers who would have had an easy shot as well as the immense height of the bridge and the velocity of the water below. The ending of the story, then confirmed my suspicions to be true as the text states “Peyton Farquhar was dead; his body, with a broken neck, swung gently from side to side beneath the timbers of the Owl Creek bridge.” (Bierce 324) In my opinion, I showed critical thinking beyond the text. This proves I was fully engaged within the text. I was also satisfied that I avoided Bierce’s traps. I believe Bierce uses these traps as a technique to play with the reader which results in the
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