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Ambrose Bierce's "An occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" is one of the many famous and frequently anthologized brief stories.

It's well-known for its surprised ending, but it's likewise an engaging story follow me the way. It's not simply a set up because that its ending.

This short article starts with a an overview and climate looks in ~ themes, the ending and the title.


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Summary the "An occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge"

Part I

A prisoner v his hand tied behind his earlier and a noose approximately his neck is on a leg in Alabama. Commonwealth soldiers safety him, and also there's a sentinel in ~ each finish of the bridge. There's rushing water beneath them.

A line of infantrymen was standing on one bank of the river facing the bridge, motionless.

The sinner is a civilian gentleman in his mid-thirties, and also has a you re welcome expression.

There's movement on the bridge, leaving just the sergeant and the condemned man standing on the exact same plank. The sergeant's weight is every that avoids the sinner from falling with the bridge.


The man, formerly distracted through his surroundings, close the door his eyes to think that his wife and children. He's distracted through the sound of a hammer hitting one anvil, which turns out to it is in the ticking the his watch.

He thinks about releasing himself, jumping right into the stream, swim to the bank and also escaping into the woods.

The sergeant procedures off the plank.

Part II

The prisoner, Peyton Fahrquhar, is a well-off planter from a respect family, specialized to the southern cause. Circumstances stop him from joining the army, however he help the south as a civilian in any means he can.


One evening, a soldier rode approximately his gate and asked for some water. When Mrs. Fahrquhar fetched it, Peyton asked around the war effort. He claimed the Yanks had secured Owl Creek bridge and were prepare an advance. Anyone captured interfering would be hanged. The soldier further indicated that the bridge is easy guarded top top this side. There's also an accumulation of driftwood against it that would easily burn.

The soldier left. He reverted after dark, heading northward. He to be a federal scout.

Part III

Peyton Fahrquhar falls through the bridge and also loses consciousness. The awakens come pain and also congestion. The sound the a splash and the emotion of coldness make him establish the rope broke.


He sinks first, then rises towards the surface. The frees his hands and also removes the noose.

He feels pain everywhere, however manages to rest the surface of the water. His senses have completely returned. They're also heightened, as he notes tiny details in his surroundings.

There's activity from the soldiers ~ above the bridge. Part shots from a sentinel strike the water near Peyton.

He hears the order because that the infantrymen to fire ~ above him. Peyton dives together deeply as he can. Few of the bullets touch him under the water. That swims through the current and resurfaces farther downstream.


The soldiers reload. A cannon blast access time the water by Peyton, sending a tidal tide of water over him.

The existing spins and also flings him to the southerly bank. He's the end of the line of fire.

He's overwhelmed through delight. That rushes up the financial institution into the trees.

Peyton walks every day with the seemingly infinite forest. In ~ night, he gets on the road that will lead that home. He's tired, hungry, thirsty and also his neck hurts.

He unexpectedly finds himself at his gate. As he goes increase the walk, his wife concerns meet him. She's graceful and also beautiful.

As they're about to embrace, that feels a punch to the earlier of his neck, a blinding light and also a jarring sound. Then, there's nothing.

Peyton Fahrquhar's dead body swings indigenous Owl Creek bridge.

Theme: Time

When the story ends, us realize it has actually taken liberties through the passage of time. As lot as that feels favor this was sprung on united state suddenly, the groundwork was laid because that it earlier.


As Peyton tries come think about his wife and children, he's distracted by "a sharp, distinct, metallic percussion choose the stroke of a blacksmith's hammer top top the anvil," which were "as slow as the tolling that a death knell" through the intervals in between them obtaining "progressively longer; the delays ended up being maddening." This turns out to be "the ticking the his watch."


Here, Peyton experience a time dilation as each passing 2nd feels longer and longer. The entire third section is dilated in the same way.

After Peyton drops through the bridge, the awakens, "ages later, it appeared to him."

After he breaks the surface of the water, he's may be to note details about the trees, leaves, insects, dewdrops and also other things. Time is again stretching here. In this moment where his survival is in ~ stake, he somehow has actually the time to analysis his surroundings.

The final image that the story, the one the tells united state time has actually been manipulated, is that Petyon swinging gently from Owl Creek bridge, favor a pendulum clock.

Theme: Imagination and Fantasy

Peyton's perceptions show off a most imagination and also fantasy.

While on the bridge, that looks down at the stream, i beg your pardon is gyeongju madly, and also notices a piece of driftwood. The thinks, "How progressively it showed up to move! What a slow stream!" His perception doesn't enhance reality.

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Peyton's view of the battle is likewise rooted in fantasy. The feels "inglorious restraint" as a civilian that couldn't sign up with the "gallant army", and wants "the larger life of the soldier . . . The chance for distinction." the sees only the potential for glory, as "No company was too humble . . . No adventure too perilous because that him to undertake." Peyton doesn't acknowledge the fact of the war, the his authorized is dangerous, and these adventures average people's lives.