Ambrose Bierce, in his tragic short story, “An Occurrence atOwl Creek Bridge”, lays the scene of a “well to do planter, of and old andhighly respected Alabama family” (Bierce 3) Peyton Farquhar whose attempt to assistthe Confederate army leads to his end.
Established (E) in the tumultuous period of the Civil War, the occurrencebegins at Peyton Farquhar and his wife “sitting on a rustic bench near theentrance to his grounds” (3) at his farmhouse near Owl Creek Bridge. Communicated by (S) sagacious speaker, the story (P) is a tragic story of an “original secessionistand ardently devoted to the Southern Cause” (3) who is tricked by a Union spy.Due to Farquhar’s ineptitude, he is hanged. However, in the height of his imminent hanging,Farquhar ponders ways he could flee home to his family. The tale has amulti-faceted implication; (A) it communicatesthe importance of family and how those who support slavery will suffer as muchas the deprived slaves do. The theme is the impact of actuality versusillusion.
Directed to(L) those who are fascinated withthe miniscule stories of individuals affected by the Civil War. Bierce’s tone (E) is sarcastic in the sense that heis persistent on the disillusionment of escape and doom. It is (D)ironic thatFarquhar is hanged for a transgression Griffin 2that he does not complete, but is hanged from the bridge he plansto burn.
Moreover, it is ironic that he supports the atrocious treatment of slaves,and in turn, “Peyton Farquhar was dead; his body, with a broken neck, swunggently from side to side beneath the timbers of the Owl Creek Bridge” (8)Metaphorically, “despite his suffering, he had fallen asleep while walking, fornow he sees another scene” (7) This eludes to the larger picture of the CivilWar, that the Southerners have been sleep walking, as seen by their support ofslavery.