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Critical Lens Essay For An Occurance At Owl Creek

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1. Introduction: “Every work of literature leads up to one great moment of insight, one instant in which the truth stands revealed.” – T. Melos. No matter what piece of literature is read there will be a moment when things become simple and all the fog is lifted off the truth. Many works of literature prove this to be true. Ambrose Bierce’s ‘An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge’, helps the reader see the truth by building up to the climax, a moment, where they can then see everything clearly for what it really is. 2. 1st Body Paragraph: At the beginning of ‘An Occurrence of Owl Creek Bridge’ Bierce carefully lays out all of the details: the setting is northern Alabama, and the time is the Civil War. We are then introduced to the main character solely as the man on the bridge. He is not named by the author until the second section of the short story which adds to the mystery of his character while keeping the setting intact. All we know about the character thus far are the facts; his age, station in society, and his appearance.

The setting is the main focus of the first section of the story and is described in great detail to the reader. It is later introduced through the viewpoint of the man on the bridge as it transitions into the second section of the short story. The first section of the story ends with the sergeant moving off the plank the main character was standing on above the river; leaving the reader to infer what happens next. 3. 2nd Body Paragraph: As section two opens the reader is taken to a time before the execution in a flashback. They’re taken to one evening in the past where Farquhar and his wife were sitting on the edge of their property when a gray-clad soldier rode up, seeking a drink of water. The soldier appeared to be from the Confederate army and gives Farquhar news from the front and then answers his question about how a civilian could attempt some form of sabotage to aid the south. The man, who the reader later finds out was actually a Northern scout in disguise, finishes his drink and rides off, only to pass by an hour later heading in the opposite direction.

It then allows the reader to understand or infer why the main character who they know now as Peyton Farquhar is being executed. 4. 3rd Body Paragraph: Section three brings us back to the present, at the hanging. Farquhar loses consciousness as he plummets down from the side of the bridge. Reality and illusion work side by side in ‘An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,’ and until the end of the story, we aren’t aware of any division between them. Farquhar’s illusion is, for us as readers, reality. Farquhar creates his fantasy world out of desperation: he is about to die, and imagining his escape is a way of regaining control over the facts of his current state.

The thought of his family is what urges him on however it is not enough. 5. Conclusion: As the third section of the short story opens the reader is following along through Farquhar’s own fantasy world and it’s in that world that they are given clues it isn’t actual reality but they aren’t made certain of this until the very end of the short story with the bold, blunt, and revealing ending. The reader is led through the story thinking that Farquhar has escaped his fate based on his alternate reality but the truth is finally revealed as the story comes to its climax-Farquhar is dead, his broken body actually swinging from the side of the Owl Creek bridge.

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