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An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge   By: (1842-1914?)

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An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce is a gripping and thought-provoking short story that defies expectations and explores the depths of the human psyche. Told through the perspective of Peyton Farquhar, a southern planter during the American Civil War, the story explores themes of time, perception, and the fleeting nature of existence.

Bierce's writing style is impeccable, drawing readers into the narrative with rich descriptions and a tense atmosphere. The story opens with Farquhar's impending execution, and the author masterfully builds suspense, making readers question the reality of the events unfolding. The use of vivid imagery and sensory details creates a palpable sense of urgency and danger.

The narrative structure is particularly noteworthy, as Bierce employs flashbacks and shifts in perspectives to reveal the true nature of Farquhar's situation. Through these techniques, the story challenges notions of linear time and explores the complex workings of the human mind in moments of extreme stress and desperation.

Moreover, Bierce tackles themes of war, sacrifice, and the human desire for freedom. As readers delve into Farquhar's inner thoughts and fantasies in his final moments, they are confronted with the harsh realities of war and the sacrifices individuals are willing to make for their beliefs. Bierce's unflinching portrayal of violence and its consequences adds a layer of depth to the story, provoking contemplation on the true nature of heroism and the cost of pursuing a cause.

An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge is an expertly crafted piece of literature that challenges readers to question their perceptions and contemplate the mysteries of time and human existence. Ambrose Bierce's ability to create suspenseful and poignant narratives showcases his mastery as a storyteller, making this short story a must-read for lovers of thought-provoking fiction.

First Page:



Ambrose Bierce


A man stood upon a railroad bridge in northern Alabama, looking down into the swift water twenty feet below. The man's hands were behind his back, the wrists bound with a cord. A rope closely encircled his neck. It was attached to a stout cross timber above his head and the slack fell to the level of his knees. Some loose boards laid upon the ties supporting the rails of the railway supplied a footing for him and his executioners two private soldiers of the Federal army, directed by a sergeant who in civil life may have been a deputy sheriff. At a short remove upon the same temporary platform was an officer in the uniform of his rank, armed. He was a captain. A sentinel at each end of the bridge stood with his rifle in the position known as "support," that is to say, vertical in front of the left shoulder, the hammer resting on the forearm thrown straight across the chest a formal and unnatural position, enforcing an erect carriage of the body. It did not appear to be the duty of these two men to know what was occurring at the center of the bridge; they merely blockaded the two ends of the foot planking that traversed it.

Beyond one of the sentinels nobody was in sight; the railroad ran straight away into a forest for a hundred yards, then, curving, was lost to view... Continue reading book >>

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