Plot summary[ edit ] Peyton Farquhar, a civilian and plantation owner, is being prepared for execution by hanging from an Alabama railroad bridge during the American Civil War. Six military men and a company of infantrymen are present, guarding the bridge and carrying out the sentence. Farquhar thinks of his wife and children and is then distracted by a noise that, to him, sounds like an unbearably loud clanging; it is actually the ticking of his watch. He considers the possibility of jumping off the bridge and swimming to safety if he can free his tied hands, but the soldiers drop him from the bridge before he can act on the idea.
In section I, Peyton Farquhar is standing on a railroad bridge, twenty feet above the water. His wrists are bound behind his back, and around his neck is a noose that is tied to a beam overhead. He is positioned on loose planks that have been laid over the crossties of the train tracks to create a makeshift platform.
Two soldiers from the Northern army, a sergeant, and a captain immediately surround him, awaiting the execution. Beyond them, armed sentinels stand at attention.
The bridge is bordered on one side by forest and, across the stream, open ground that gives way to a small hillock on which a small fort has been erected.
A motionless company of infantrymen, led by their lieutenant, stands assembled before the fort. As the two soldiers finalize the preparations, they step back and remove the individual planks on which they had been standing. The sergeant salutes the captain then positions himself on the opposite end of the board supporting Farquhar, as the captain, like the soldiers, steps off and away from the crossties.
Farquhar stares into the swirling water below. He watches a piece of driftwood being carried downstream and notes how sluggish the stream seems to be. He shuts his eyes to push away the distractions of his present situation and focus more intently on thoughts of his wife and children.
He suddenly hears a sharp, metallic ringing, which sounds both distant and close by. The sound turns out to be the ticking of his watch.
Opening his eyes and peering again into the water, Farquhar imagines freeing his hands, removing the noose, and plunging into the stream, swimming to freedom and his home, safely located outside enemy lines. In section II, we learn that Farquhar was a successful planter, ardently devoted to the Southern cause.
One evening in the past, 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. While his wife was fetching the water, Farquhar asked for news of the front and was informed that Northern forces had repaired the railroads in anticipation of launching another advance, having already reached the Owl Creek bridge.
Farquhar asked how a civilian could attempt some form of sabotage. The man, who was actually a Northern scout in disguise, finished his drink and rode off, only to pass by an hour later heading in the opposite direction.
Section III brings us back to the present, at the hanging. Farquhar loses consciousness as he plummets down from the side of the bridge. He is awakened by currents of pain running through his body. A loud splash wakes him up even more abruptly, and he realizes that the noose has broken—sending him falling into the stream below.
Farquhar sees a light flicker and fade before it strengthens and brightens as he rises, with some trepidation, to the surface.
He is afraid he will be shot by Northern soldiers as soon as he is spotted in the water. Freeing his bound hands, then lifting the noose from his neck, he fights extreme pain to break through the surface and take a large gasp of air, which he exhales with a shriek.
Farquhar looks back to see his executioners standing on the bridge, in silhouette against the sky. One of the sentinels fires his rifle at him twice.
Farquhar then hears the lieutenant instructing his men to fire, so he dives down to avoid the shots.Ambrose Bierce’s “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”: Repeated Frustrations of the Protagonist’s Desires by a War When considering the story’s plot, setting, and characters, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” poses a caution that the violence of a war can deprive love, peace, freedom, and achievements of wishes from ordinary people.
In "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge", reality is subject to time, emotions, and the reader assumptions. Each individual aspect effects reality significantly.
Ambrose Bierce reiterates the fact that time, reality, and truths are all created in the reader's mind. In "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge," Alabama planter Peyton Farquhar longs to defend the South.
His romantic illusions regarding the war lead to his execution at Owl Creek Bridge.
Farquhar is. Peyton Farquhar, the protagonist of “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,” is a shadowy figure who eventually becomes a two-sided character in the story. Little is known about him beyond the class distinctions that make him a seemingly unlikely candidate for execution as a Confederate agitator.
`Something uncanny': The dream structure in Ambrose Bierce's `An occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge'.
Stoicheff, Peter // Studies in Short Fiction;Summer93, Vol. 30 Issue 3, p Discusses in a Freudian context the `uncanny' sense of revelation in Ambrose Bierce's fiction, . In Ambrose Bierces " An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" two private soldiers of the Federal army were appointed by a sergeant to lynch Peyton Farquhar from a elderly suspended bridge because of his attempt to aid the Confederate forces.