Linguistic and Narrative Cohesion in An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridg

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Linguistic and Narrative Cohesion in An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge

The reader's bewilderment at the end of Ambrose Bierce's "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" is less a result of Peyton Farquhar's death than the timely coordination of this man's violent execution with the reader's sudden realization that instead of a detached objective reading he has been cajoled into a subjective experience (Ames 53). The reader is able to cross over into the consciousness of the protagonist at the moment when experience ends because of the story's cohesion and coherence. A focused examination of specific passages and themes in each of the story's sections demonstrates how Bierce satisfies the expectations of the reader and provides a
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Because the reader's linguistic and thematic expectations are being met, the desire to make the dream a reality is strong and the reader becomes so immersed in the story that he forgets that content is a function of technique. As a consequence, the account in the third segment seems reasonable, even though it is presented by an unreliable narrator.

The reader is conditioned from the start as the narrator offers concrete, matter-of-fact details that are logically constructed yet do not record connected actions. These sentences contain known-new contracts that build the reader's perception of the setting and interest in the antecedent action:

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 (Charters, Introduction 74).

In the first sentence the reader is made acquainted to a man standing on a bridge looking down at the water below him. This subject is related to the subject of the second sentence, The man's hands, which is in a known-new contract with the predicate were behind his back. A parallel structure within the

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