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An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge

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on 19 November 2012

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Transcript of An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge

By: Ambrose Bierce An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge Presentation by:
Addison Baxter
Anthony Gonzales
Ryan Garcia
Vincent Morello
Jack Wilson Tyler Beal 1-2) What is the setting of the story?

3) What device does the author use to tell his story?

4-5) What was the writing period reflected in the story? How do you know?

6-8) What crime did Farquhar commit? Who suggested the crime to Farquhar? What were the consequences of Farquhars decision?

9) What event is taking place at the beginning of the story?

10-11) What does Farquhar fear most? Why is this ironic?

12) What does the color gray represent? Quiz Quiz cont. 13) What did his house represent?

14) Why did Farquhar's head, neck, and eyes beging to feel constricted as he got closer to his house?

15) What was the last thing Farquhar sees before he dies? Extra Credit 1) How many men were on the bridge with Farquhar?

2) Who is the author? Historic Events April 6, 1844 - Edgar Allan Poe, the highly regarded writer of short stories, departs his home in Philadelphia for New York City. He left the city with $4.50 to his name.

May 13, 1846 - War is declared by the United States against Mexico, backed by southerners while northern Whigs were in opposition. Ten days later, Mexico declares war back.

January 24, 1848 - Gold was discovered in California by James W. Marshall at Sutter's Mill in the town of Colona.

November 6, 1860 - Republican candidate Abraham Lincoln wins the election. http://americasbesthistory.com/abhtimeline1890.html Historical Events cont. December 18, 1865 - The Thirteenth Amendment, abolishing slavery, took effect.

September 18, 1873 - An economic depression begins

1888- Bierce and his wife formally separated.

1889- Death of Bierce’s son Day. Involved in a gunfight with a friend who had run off with and married Day’s own fiancée.

March 1901- Bierce’s son Leigh died of pneumonia in New York. Bierce was shocked and sickened to have outlived two of his three children.

April 27, 1905- Bierce’s wife Mary died of heart failure in Los Angeles. Just a few months earlier she had sued for divorce. http://americasbesthistory.com/abhtimeline1890.html
“Owl Creek" is set on a railroad bridge in Alabama during the American Civil War, which was fought from 1861 to 1865 and claimed 525,000 American lives. The bloody conflict began when the states of the American South withdrew from the Union, arguing that the U.S. Constitution gave them the right to do so if they chose. When President Abraham Lincoln disagreed with their decision and made known his determination to keep the Union together, war broke out between the Northern states and the Southern states. Setting Quote “A man stood upon a railroad bridge in northern Alabama.” "Bierce, Ambrose. An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge. 1890 Conflict Man vs. Man
“One evening while Farquhar and his wife were sitting on a rustic bench near the entrance to his grounds, a gray-clad soldier rode up to the gate and asked for a drink of water.”
Man vs. Himself
“I might throw off the noose and spring into the stream. By diving I could evade the bullets and, swimming vigorously, reach the bank, take to the woods and get away home. My home, thank God, is as yet outside their lines; my wife and little ones are still beyond the invader’s farthest advance.” "Bierce, Ambrose. An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge. 1890 As Peyton Farquhar is hanging, he flashes back to the reason why he is being executed. He was a slave owner, politician and a secessionist. He did not become a soldier, but wanted to support the Southern cause any way he could. A soldier in gray rides up to his house. An order has been issued that civilians who interfere with bridges, tunnels, or railroads will be hanged. The soldier tells Peyton that Owl Creek Bridge has a lot of dry driftwood that would burn easily. Flashback The mood of the story is somber or gloomy as it is describing the hanging of a man in great detail. The color gray is used many times throughout the story for descriptions which adds to the overall gloom and dreariness. Mood The reader believes that Peyton has escaped death because of his dream-state throughout the story. He falls in the river and gets the noose off of his neck. He swims downstream, dodging bullets to the river’s edge. He’s at the gate of his home. Just as the reader thinks he will reunite with his wife, the reader finds out that Peyton is dead.


In the flashback, the Union soldier is dressed as a confederate soldier easily convinces Peyton to burn Owl Creek Bridge which is the reason for his hanging. Irony http://www.biercephile.com/death.cfm Married to Mary Ellen Day on December 25, 1871.
A year later, he resigned from the paper and he and Mary moved to England.
They had 3 children.
Returned to San Francisco in 1877.
Became editor of the Argonat and started his famous column The Pratle.
In 1880, Bierce went to South Dakota to work with a gold mining company.
In 1886, publisher William Randolph Hearst asked him to write his column for his paper the San Francisco Examiner.
In 1888, he separated from his wife and suffered a loss of two of his children in 1889 and 1901.
He left his job in 1909 to travel.
He mysteriously disappeared.
His last correspondence was on December 26, 1913: "As to me, I leave here tomorrow for an unknown destination." Biography continued… http://www.online-literature.com/bierce/ Born on June 24, 1842 in Ohio and died in December of 1914.
Had 12 siblings all with names beginning with “A”.
Left home at 15.
Worked for abolitionist newspaper.
Enlisted into the Union Army at 18.
Fought in many battles of Civil War for four years.
Resigned after getting shot in the head.
War experiences influenced his writing.
After the war, he settled in San Francisco and worked for the U.S. Mint.
Began to submit his writings to newspapers.
In 1868, he met Mark Twain and became editor of the San Francisco News-Letter.
Wrote a column based on critical and witty observations about culture and politics.
Gained much popularity and also many critics, one of who was Oscar Wilde. Ambrose Bierce
Biography http://www.writework.com/essay/irony-used-occurrences-owl-creek-bridge-ambrose-bierce-and Bierce, Ambrose. An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge. 1890 Bierce, Ambrose. An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge. 1890 Haas, Misty. "Ambrose Bierce - An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge." Misty's Reading Journal Blog. Blogger, 1 Feb. 2011. Web. 13 Nov. 2012. <http://mistys-eng232readingjournalblog.blogspot.com/2011/02/ambrose-bierce-occurrence-at-owl-creek.html>. Citations The water
When looking down on the water, Farquhar looks at the water as his only source of freedom or survival. The water would be his only possible way back to freedom
Drift wood
Farquhar imagines the drift wood floating downstream as himself, swimming away to freedom.
The bridge
The bridge symbolizes a connection between life and death for Farquhar. The bridge is the place he attempts to burn and the platform where he is sentenced to death. The bridge also connects fantasy and reality for Farquhar. Symbols The color gray
It appears several times in the story. Once referring to the color of the soldiers eyes trying to kill Farquhar. This shows the reader that Farquhar is no longer in reality. Gray also disguises the truth behind “Confederate” soldiers that approach Farquhar and his wife. Motifs Bierce, Ambrose. An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge. 1890 http://www.enotes.com/occurrence-owl-creek-bridge/summary Bierce’s message of the futility of war still exists in today’s society. War is still used to solve our problems throughout the world, but often it lasts several years, costs billions of dollars, and takes thousands of civilian and soldiers’ lives. The U.S. troop’s fight against terror in the Middle East has been a very long struggle, which has caused many here in America to lose loved ones who were in combat. This is very similar to the Civil War where families were torn apart because they lost loved ones or families were fighting against one another. Many would say these wars are futile because the end result just isn’t worth the price that so many Americans had to pay because of them.


The Futility of War. 10 November 2012 <http://mises.org/humanaction/chap34sec4.asp>. Relevance to Americans “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” was published in 1891 several years after the author, Ambrose Bierce, served in the Union army. He took from his own experiences to show the futility of not just the Civil War, but of all wars. It showed how a devoted civilian lost his life for no reason. It sent a message that a war is not just fought on the frontlines, but back at home. This story was a great example of showing how close the Civil War was to home, especially in the South, and how civilians were directly affected.

<http://quintessentialruminations.wordpress.com/2011/04/11/commemorating-the-american-civil-war-and-lamenting-its-futility/>. Relevance to Americans Mrs. Farquhar- She is a beautiful and quiet southern lady. Her husband is overcome with joy when he sees her, and as he is about to touch her, the fantasy ends.
Union Scout- Comes to the Farquhar house disguised as a Confederate soldier, asks for a drink of water, and warns them not to interfere with the Union posted at the bridge.
Union Captain- The commanding officer at the hanging. There is also a sergeant, lieutenant, and two privates present.

Bierce, Ambrose. "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge." 1891. Characters Peyton Farquhar- 35 year old gardener, husband, and father from Alabama who is a slave owner and is dedicated to the South and its secession. He wanted to fight for the Confederacy but was unable to because of his imperious nature. He will do anything he can to help the South. He is hung by the Union Army for interfering with their operations at Owl Creek Bridge. He imagines he frees himself from the noose, dodges bullets while swimming away, outruns the soldiers, and sees his wife. His fantasy of the escape ended there when his neck broke and he hung from Owl Creek Bridge.

Bierce, Ambrose. "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge." 1891. Characters Foreshadowing- Bierce foreshadows that this wild and improbable escape of Peyton is merely a fantasy when he unrealistically frees his hands, unties the noose around his neck, then swam to safety while dodging bullets.
Diction- The story uses average diction for the times. The story uses concrete diction to provide a vivid description of Peyton’s five senses during his imaginary escape.


Literary Terms. 10 November 2012 <http://www.tnellen.com/cybereng/lit_terms/>. Elements Foreshadowing- Bierce foreshadows that this wild and improbable escape of Peyton is merely a fantasy when he unrealistically frees his hands, unties the noose around his neck, then swam to safety while dodging bullets.
Diction- The story uses average diction for the times. The story uses concrete diction to provide a vivid description of Peyton’s five senses during his imaginary escape.


<http://www.tnellen.com/cybereng/lit_terms/>. Elements Theme Literary Elements Genre- Southern Gothic, Historical Fiction Point of View-
Third person
The narrator has only a limited knowledge of what is going on inside the mind of Farquhar http://www.enotes.com/occurrence-owl-creek-bridge The main themes in this story are deception, dreams against reality
and the escape of death. The author, Ambrose Bierce, really tries to
deceive the reader by making them believe that Peyton Farquhar, the
main character, really escaped his close call with death. It is not to
the end until we find out that it was all in Farquhar’s head while he
was moments away from death. This ties in with what Farquhar dreams
would happen but in reality he has finally met his fate. The final
theme is the escape from death. This is the biggest part of the story
considering that Peyton is believed to have escaped the ropes grip on
his neck to finally be reunited with his wife and then hears the loud
bomb of a cannon to bring him back to his lifeless body swinging from
the bridge. http://www.bookrags.com/studyguide-owlcreekbridge/themes.html Devil and Tom Walker- Tom’s wife is killed by the devil and he isn’t upset. He is merely happy to have found the household valuables she wandered off with and is fine with never seeing her again. Peyton loves his wife and wants to see her one last time, but he dies just as he is about to grasp her.
Walden- The descriptive language Thoreau uses to describe the setting of nature around him is similar to the descriptive language the author uses to portray Peyton’s escape through the woods and what his surroundings are like. Thoreau is trying to relax and find peace in nature, while Peyton is nervous and tense and is just trying to run away. Similarities and Differences Scarlet Letter- Hester is being punished for adultery and Peyton is being punished for interfering with the army. Hester’s punishment is the A which stays with her forever, and Peyton’s punishment is a quick hanging.
Masque of the Red Death- The clock of midnight is similar to the white light Peyton sees at the end of the story, both signal that death has finally come.
Rose for Emily- Emily is a symbol of the Old South and she is trying to preserve that lifestyle while society changes around her, and Peyton tries to help preserve the South by interfering with the Union at the bridge. Similarities and Differences Littell, McDougal. The Language of Literature Littell, McDougal. The Language of Literature Bierce’s message of the futility of war still exists in today’s society. War is still used to solve our problems throughout the world, but often it lasts several years, costs billions of dollars, and takes thousands of civilian and soldiers’ lives. The U.S. troop’s fight against terror in the Middle East has been a very long struggle, which has caused many here in America to lose loved ones who were in combat. This is very similar to the Civil War where families were torn apart because they lost loved ones or families were fighting against one another. Many would say these wars are futile because the end result just isn’t worth the price that so many Americans had to pay because of them.


<http://mises.org/humanaction/chap34sec4.asp>. Relevance to Americans “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” was published in 1891 several years after the author, Ambrose Bierce, served in the Union army. He took from his own experiences to show the futility of not just the Civil War, but of all wars. It showed how a devoted civilian lost his life for no reason. It sent a message that a war is not just fought on the frontlines, but back at home. This story was a great example of showing how close the Civil War was to home, especially in the South, and how civilians were directly affected.

Lee, Phillip. Commemorating the American Civil War and lamenting its futility. 11 April 2012. 9 November 2012 <http://quintessentialruminations.wordpress.com/2011/04/11/commemorating-the-american-civil-war-and-lamenting-its-futility/>. Relevance to Americans Foreshadowing- Bierce foreshadows that this wild and improbable escape of Peyton is merely a fantasy when he unrealistically frees his hands, unties the noose around his neck, then swam to safety while dodging bullets.
Diction- The story uses average diction for the times. The story uses concrete diction to provide a vivid description of Peyton’s five senses during his imaginary escape.


<http://www.tnellen.com/cybereng/lit_terms/>. Elements Mrs. Farquhar- She is a beautiful and quiet southern lady. Her husband is overcome with joy when he sees her, and as he is about to touch her, the fantasy ends.
Union Scout- Comes to the Farquhar house disguised as a Confederate soldier, asks for a drink of water, and warns them not to interfere with the Union posted at the bridge.
Union Captain- The commanding officer at the hanging. There is also a sergeant, lieutenant, and two privates present.

Bierce, Ambrose. "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge." 1891. Characters Peyton Farquhar- 35 year old gardener, husband, and father from Alabama who is a slave owner and is dedicated to the South and its secession. He wanted to fight for the Confederacy but was unable to because of his imperious nature. He will do anything he can to help the South. He is hung by the Union Army for interfering with their operations at Owl Creek Bridge. He imagines he frees himself from the noose, dodges bullets while swimming away, outruns the soldiers, and sees his wife. His fantasy of the escape ended there when his neck broke and he hung from Owl Creek Bridge.

Bierce, Ambrose. "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge." 1891. Characters Distortion between friends and foes Tone "Bierce, Ambrose. An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge. 1890 "Bierce, Ambrose. An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge. 1890 "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge Themes." BookRags. BookRags, n.d. Web. 14 Nov. 2012. <http://www.bookrags.com/studyguide-owlcreekbridge/themes.html>. "Ambrose Bierce." - Biography and Works. Search Texts, Read Online. Discuss. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Nov. 2012. <http://www.online-literature.com/bierce/>. "America's Best History U.S. Timeline, The 1890's." America's Best History U.S. Timeline, The 1890's. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Nov. 2012. <http://americasbesthistory.com/abhtimeline1890.html>. "Literary Terms." Literary Terms. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Nov. 2012. <http://www.tnellen.com/cybereng "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge." Enotes.com. Enotes.com, n.d. Web. 14 Nov. 2012. <http://www.enotes.com/occurrence-owl-creek-bridge>. "Get Essays, Research Papers, Term Papers & College Essays Here." Get Essays, Research Papers, Term Papers & College Essays Here. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Nov. 2012. <http://www.writework.com/essay/irony-used-occurrences-owl-creek-bridge-ambrose-bierce-and>. None Satire Bierce, Ambrose. An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge. 1890 Murica' Murica' Murica' Murica' Murica'
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