Posted at 11.27.2018
"An Incident at Owl Creek Bridge" by Ambrose Bierce, is a short story with a distinctive plot twist. Ambrose Bierce uses time as a means of manipulating the reader's perspective. Time is defined by "a nonspatial continuum where events arise in apparently irreversible succession. " (TheFreeDictionary. com) This distortion of the continuous forward motion of your time disrupts the belief of reality. Once the reader can no longer distinguish actual simple fact from a recognized reality, other figure judgments come into question as well. The disruption of energy allows the series of incidents in "An Incident at Owl Creek Bridge" to be provided in a fashion that forces the reader to question any assumptions made about Peyton Farquhar's true figure. By firmly taking the reader through your brain of Peyton Farquhar through the moments prior to his loss of life, his miraculous break free, and his abrupt snap back into today's, the reader is still left wondering about the real nature of energy and the result it is wearing the awareness of reality.
The narrator's information of every tangible depth to the storyplot sets a particular time frame for the events that happen. The reader can certainly differentiate a historical time collection for the storyplot. "Being truly a slave owner and like other slave owners a politician he was normally an original secessionist and ardently devoted to the Southern cause. " (Bierce p. 72) The story is defined in the south, during the Civil Conflict. Ambrose Bierce runs on the specific time period as a method of developing the reader's perception, of not only the situation, but of the character of Peyton Farquhar himself. By labeling Peyton Farquhar as a "slave owner" (Bierce p. 72), "politician" (Bierce p. 72), and "original secessionist" (Bierce p. 72), the reader may begin to empathize with the reasons for Peyton Farquhar's situation. The reader may easily believe that by being "specialized in the Southern cause" (Bierce p 73) during the Civil Conflict, "the person who [is] employed in being hanged" (Bierce p. 74) is justifiably in the problem. The descriptive language used to spell it out Peyton Farquhar in this specified moment in history, elicit strong feelings in the reader. Ambrose Bierce easily manipulates the reader's perception of Peyton Farquhar while solidifying the truth of the story.
Ambrose Bierce constantly foreshadows the disruption of the time and Peyton Farquhar's upcoming death. The occasions before his hanging, Peyton's reality begins to be distorted. "He became conscious of a new disruption. " (Bierce p 74) "A audio which he could neither ignore nor understand, a distinct, unique, metallic percussion like the stroke of an blacksmith's hammer after the anvil. " (Bierce p 75). What should be an irrelevant record noise all of the sudden becomes extremely significant and noisy. Ambrose Bierce plainly expresses precisely how significant the few moments before death become. "More significantly for Bierce's purposes, though, is that "time" itself, when hired to calibrate real human experience, appears to become indeterminate at factors of maximum emotional disruption. " (Stoicheff) Peyton Farquhar only hears "the ticking of his watch. " (Bierce p 75) This distinct reference to time gives the reader an instant to ponder just how many ticks of Peyton's watch actually take place during the forthcoming series. As "the noose tightens around his neck of the guitar, and he is "as you already useless" (Bierce p 75) "from this point out he [is] awakened - age ranges later. " (Bierce p 75)
Death is possible every single individual must eventually recognize. Having to face death in such a brutal manner leaves Peyton Farquhar reminiscent of his better half and home. "He shut down his eyes in order to fix his previous thoughts upon his partner and children. " (Bierce p 76) Although improbable, the thoughts of get away begin to cloud Peyton's head. "'If I possibly could free my hands, ' he thought, 'I might toss off the noose and springtime in to the stream. '" (Bierce p 76) Until this point in the storyplot, Ambrose Bierce's narration has maintained a steadfast objectivity. In the third and most notable portion of "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge", when "the sergeant stepped besides" and the plank is released from beneath Peyton Farquhar, the narration becomes a lot more emotion-laden. The reader commences to see the pain and terror that has to result from facing death in such a manner. However the incidents of his escape are surreal and improbable, because time-flow is normally irreversible, the reader is constantly pushed forwards into believing Peyton has actually survived his break free. Thus, allowing time to continue uninterrupted, yet more subjective.
The reader is finally given small insight in to the thoughts and emotions of Peyton Farquhar. The internal thoughts and worries of a man just occasions from his fatality can be unnerving and terrifying. However, the reader practically cheers for Peyton Farquhar to flee unharmed. The narrator remains the objective information of even such a distressing scene. "It seemed to him--by the pain of the sharp pressure upon his throat, followed by a sense of suffocation. (Bierce p 75) With each transferring point in time, with each in depth information of the pain Peyton Farquhar must go through to accomplish his break free, time appears to slow down. As in any adrenaline filled point in time, time becomes somewhat distorted, however Bierce again uses explanations from what can only be considered a approach to elongating an individual moment. "As [Peyton Farquhar] rose to the surface, gasping for breath, he found that he previously been a long time under water. " (Bierce p 75) "Farquhar's ordeal describe[s] the sensations of an tired escaper as those of a hanged and dying man. " (Palmer p363) Fact becomes further muddled in the reader's brain.
Initially the reader was left with many assumptions about the type of Peyton Farquhar. The factual descriptions given allowed the reader to sympathize with Farquhar's captors. However, in the next portion of "An Incident at Owl Creek Bridge", the reader is given the chance to see the occurrences unfold. It becomes apparent that although a "secessionist, " (Bierce p74) Farquhar was entrapped into the events that unfolded with a union soldier. The reader can than begin to sympathize with the character. Ambrose Bierce uses this opportunity to and entrance into the surrealist dream collection to "develop character more totally" (Walz p262-265) The Truth the reader has come to simply accept starts to unravel and suddenly becomes doubtful. The distortion of energy and perception start to distort the awareness of fact for the reader. Ambrose Bierce shows that time can be manipulated and elongated significantly by "highly mental incidents. " (Stoicheff) The narrator's explanation of the a single insignificant sound and how it comes the most numerous thought before death should make the reader question the subjectivity of not only time, but certainty and truth as well.
The reader's potential to sympathize with the character through a distortion of time and to start to question the nature and subjectivity of your time make noticeable how relative simple truth is. In "An Event at Owl Creek Bridge", the truth is at the mercy of time, emotions, and the reader assumptions. Each individual aspect effects actuality significantly. Ambrose Bierce reiterates the fact that time, simple fact, and truths are all created in the reader's head. When the reader's conception creates each aspect and the reader's perception can be easily manipulated, then it stands to reason that all aspect can then be manipulated as well. However, although time is mother nature to subjective perceptions, Ambrose Bierce helps it be obvious that it can't be escaped. In the end, "all is darkness and silence!" (Bierce p75) "Peyton Farquhar was dead; his body, with a broken neck, swung gently from side to side beneath the timbers of the Owl Creek bridge. " (Bierce p76)