An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge By Ambrose Bierce – Term Paper Example
An occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge An occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge is the story of a Confederate irregular – a saboteur – who is about to be hung for endeavoring to sabotage a railway bridge on a railroad that the Union Army is working desperately to prepare. It is a story of men at war and all the characters physically present are male. The protagonist, Peyton Fahrquhar, the Federal scout who entraps him, the officers that have sentenced him to death and the company of infantry present at the execution are all male. Bierce knew this male world well as he served in the Union (Federal) Army during the Civil War. (Randall, 1999, 18)
However there is one female character that is omnipresent although only briefly physically present. That woman is Fahrquhars wife. Physically, she is only present in her absence, “The lady had now brought the water, which the soldier drank. He thanked her ceremoniously...” Yet as Fahrquhar flees his executioners it is a vision of her and his family that motivates him to carry on despite the bullets whizzing past him: “The thought of his wife and children urged him on.” In terms of gender analysis in this violent war-torn world of men a woman, a wife, is a solace and an inspiration. A vision of a gentler and more peaceful world.
The story also reveals biographical and historical aspects. As noted above Bierce had served in the Union Army, referred to as the Federal Army in the story. He fought in the wildest and most rugged terrain in the war during the Wilderness Campaign and that seems to provide the inspiration for his description of the wilderness that Farquhar flees through: “The forest seemed interminable; nowhere did he discover a break in it, not even a woodmans road. He had not known that he lived in so wild a region. Therefore, both the military nature of the story and the wild terrain it is set in recall both the history of the United States in the 1860s and incidents and events in Bierces own life.
Bierce, Ambrose. (1988) “An occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”. Millenium Fulcrum Edition. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/375/375-h/375-h.htm.
Randall, Floyd E. (1999). The Good, the Bad, and the Mad: Some Weird People in American History. New York: Barnes & Noble Publishing, Inc.