Literary Analysis Of An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge By Ambrose Bierce

September 14, 2022 by Essay Writer

“An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” is a short story written by a renowned American writer Ambrose Bierce. Ambrose was also a Civil War veteran and knew very well about the hardships people face during a war. The writer takes us through the times of the American Civil War. The story explains that there is no love or glory during times of war. The word “occurrence” in the story title indicates how cheap is the value of life and how common the loss of life was during the war. This story is recognized for its twist ending and manipulating time paradigms Ambrose has utilized narrative mode which takes us through a stream of consciousness and explained us the ruthlessness of war.

The way Ambrose has described each scene has been very magnificent. His descriptions of the scenes were so detailed, it looked like he was part of it. The precise description of planks, beams, and ropes which were required to hang Farquhar. The positioning of soldiers, their stance, the intricacies of armed conduct and rituals and the precise diction and terminologies created a very familiar scenario and it all felt real. Ambrose utilized a realist tradition that helped the readers to understand various aspects of war. The thing that I like about this story is its realistic nature and I loved that writer did not romanticize the horrific nature of war.

Ambrose has used illustrations of foreshadowing throughout the story, to act towards the gap between illusion and reality that broadens through the course of the story. This story has been heavily dependent on various twists and unexpected final revelations that made this story so interesting. The writer has peppered various signals or clues throughout the story that helped us visualize the ending. For example, by describing soldiers’ armaments in the opening scenes, the company of infantrymen holding their guns at “parade rest” with the butts to the ground and the commanding officer standing with the point of his sword also to the ground. As I read through the concluding section I was amazed by his fantastic nature, and the ending just startled me.

Ambrose has utilized time variation very efficiently in the story. This shows his unique understanding of time and how it can be utilized throughout the story. The first two sections of the story take place in actual time, while the last section plays out over just a few instants. Farquhar dies in that instant due to his violent drop from the bridge. But Farquhar thinks that it takes place the next day. The best thing about this story is how the writer hides various competing versions of reality through the course of the story.


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