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Ambrose Bierce's An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge

Decent Essays

The title plays an important role in catching the reader’s attention. If the title is interesting or compelling enough, one will be motivated to read it; otherwise, the story may never be read, resulting in a loss to both the author and the reader. In Ambrose Bierce’s “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,” the author grabs the reader’s attention with a “creepy” title, indicating a bad happening on the Owl Creek Bridge. Peyton Farquhar, a planter who supports the Southern cause during the Civil War, is on the brink of execution by hanging. The title sets the eerie tone of the story, which appears to be about a hanging, and the setting, which appears to be a bridge. The title presents a portentous effect among readers. It uses the word “occurrence” to warn the reader of an awful event that is about to take place. The fact that the event takes place “at” a bridge, instead of “on” the bridge, is also mysterious. In the story, all events happen at the bridge, even when the author leads you elsewhere. Also, it is not just any bridge, but the “Owl Creek” bridge. The author uses the all-knowing, sharp-eyed, ominous owl in the name for his bridge, yet he sets the bridge above a creek – a symbol for life, hope, and freedom. …show more content…

The word “occurrence” appears to describe the hanging and the escape because the author states, “Then all at once, with terrible suddenness, the light about him shot upward with the noise of a loud splash [as he falls into the water]; a frightful roaring was in his ears, and all was cold and dark.” Although it appears that Peyton evaded his death, Ambrose writes in the beginning, “As Peyton Farquhar fell straight downward through the bridge he lost consciousness and was as one already dead,” and that he “swung through unthinkable arcs of oscillation, like a vast pendulum.” The escape never actually happens, which is why the author uses the word “occurrence” rather than

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