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An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge

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Romina Saramout

on 5 March 2013

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Transcript of An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge

An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge Author: Ambrose Bierce Analysis Significant Aspects PHILOSOPHICAL EVENTS THE END! Characters Symbols Major Themes Literature Military Ambrose Bierce Biography Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce
Born on June 24, 1842, in Meigs County, Ohio, United States
Died sometime after December 26, 1913, he was last seen in Chihuahua, Chihuahua, Mexico At the age of 19 Bierce enlisted in the Union Army of the Civil War
In February of 1862, he was commissioned First Lieutenant
In April of 1862, he fought in the Battle of Shiloh. The terrifying experience he had at this battle, was the source of some of his upcoming short stories. Such as "What I Saw of Shiloh"
Bierce was released from the army in January of 1865
Most of Bierce's stories were based off the experiences he went through during his time in the Civil War. For example: "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" and "Chickamauga" A common theme found in most of Bierce's short stories is the physical and mental journey associated with war.
Another commonly found theme is the conflict between illusion and reality. -> "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge"
Irony is a commonly found technique in Bierce's stories By: Romina, Yasmin, Iraj, Olivia & Thomas Life Time Careers First lieutenant in Civil War
Treasury aide
Night guard
Editor
Journalist
Writer Railroad Refinancing Bill The Union and Central Pacific railroad companies had borrowed money from the U.S. government to build the First Transcontinental Railroad. However, Collis P. Huntington had talked to a member of the Congress to create a bill to excuse the companies from repaying the money -> $130 million
In January of 1896, Bierce was sent to Washington D.C. to "name his price"
His answer ended up on the newspapers nationwide: "My price is one hundred thirty million dollars. If, when you are ready to pay, I happen to be out of town, you may hand it over to my friend, the Treasurer of the United States."
Bierce's answer created a huge public wrath and the bill was canceled Disappearance and Legacy In 1913 Bierce went to Mexico, and the last anyone ever heard from him was a letter he wrote to his friend, dated December 26, 1913.
He ended the letter by saying, "As to me, I leave here tomorrow for an unknown destination."
He then vanished without a trace, becoming one of the most famous disappearances in American literary history
"An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" was made into 3 films, a silent film, and a french version
Bierce's disappearance was made into a novel, and that later on became a film in 1989 Reality Vs. Illusion •Peyton’s escape ends up being hallucinated despite detailed descriptions
•Reader is lead to believe escape physically occurs, exemplifying how easily reality can be manipulated
•Text portrays fluidity between reality & illusion, making one seem indistinguishable from the other
•If the mind can so easily fabricate events, how much of reality is truly perceived? Time •Explores idea that time is subjective
•Peyton’s escape seems to be lengthy and drawn out
•The hallucination actually occurs in the span of seconds
•Counters the concept that time can have a set value Peyton Farquhar •Protagonist of the story, as well as a dynamic and round character
•Descended from old & highly respected Alabama family
•Obsession with honour & proving his loyalty ultimately leads to downfall
•Peyton’s character develops through the hallucination
•Gap between reality and fantasy mimics difference between who he is & who he wishes to be Mrs. Farquhar •Minor and static character
•Stereotypical wife, does what is asked of her and obliges to husband’s needs
•Portrays a source of comfort in Peyton’s hallucination The Owl Creek Bridge •The bridge symbolizes connection
•It isn’t solely a part of one side of the creek, but rather a space that unites the two opposite sides
•Serves a similar purpose for linking illusion & reality for Peyton
•He tries to destroy the bridge and disrupt order
•By disconnecting his mental and physical states, he disrupts order anyways Driftwood •Driftwood is symbolic of Peyton himself
•In the hallucination, he floats down the river, similar to a “piece of dancing driftwood” he sees earlier
•Driftwood is the underlying cause of Peyton’s hanging, as he tried to use it to destroy the bridge – he was at fault for his own death Peyton encounters the soldiers
(epistemology).
Peyton falling off the waterfall
(metaphysics).
Peyton puts himself in an alternate world (metaphysics).
Peyton meets his family
(metaphysics) Summary •Story takes place in Alabama during American Civil War
•Peyton Farquhar is unable to join the army, so he becomes desperate to prove his loyalty to the Southern cause
•Falls for a trap set by undercover soldier by attempting to burn down a bridge
•He is caught, and so is executed for his actions
•Before he is hanged, the plot focuses on his miraculous getaway
•It is revealed that he is not actually able to escape in the end, and the entire scene had been hallucinated moments before his death
Full transcript