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Books

A Review Of An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge By Ambrose Bierce

June 23, 2022 by Essay Writer

I enjoyed reading the short story that fascinated and mesmerized its audience; propelling them into the world they create for their characters. The short story takes place on a railroad bridge in Northern Alabama during the American Civil War. The Civil War started because of uncompromising differences between the free and slave states. Peyton Fahrquhar a slave owner is the main character in this short story. In the short story, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”, by Ambrose Bierce, the author creates an enjoyable short story through his use of vivid imagery, formal diction, and explicit syntax. The most prominent technique he used was imagery.

Throughout the story, Bierce uses imagery to convey a sense of focus and realism into the plot. One of the first examples of this is when the author describes Peyton Fahrquhar, saying that “he wore a moustache and pointed beard, but no whiskers; his eyes were large and dark gray and had a kindly expression”. This description of Fahrquhar draws me in and personalizes the character so that I could form a visual representation of him in their mind’s eye. This really helps me care about the outcome of this character’s fate.

As the story revolves around the fate of the main character, Fahrquhar, the way that the author sets the mood is important for understanding and enjoying the ability of the plot. To emphasize the seriousness of the situation, the author utilizes formal diction. For example; when describing Fahrquhar’s apparent safety on the river’s shore, the author chose to write that “the sudden arrest of his motion, the abrasion of one of his hands on the gravel, restored him”. This choice of diction – such as using the word “arrest” versus choosing “stop” or using “restored him” instead of saying that it “brought him back” – creates a mood throughout the piece that the situation for Fahrquhar is serious of life and death. I felt that every action was important, and gave me the reason to keep reading. This made the story very enjoyable.

Finally, Bierce also uses syntactical choices to help display the emotion of the piece. The most touching example of this occurs at the very end of the story. Bierce uses a hyphen, and an exclamation point to emphasize the phrase “a sound like the shock of a cannon – then all is darkness and silence!”. Creating this separation signifies that part of the story is a key piece to the puzzle of the plot. By creating a direct indication that allowed me to understand the plot. I enjoyed the story because I wasn’t left confused or questioning what I had just read.

In conclusion, the author of “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”, Ambrose Bierce, was able to draw me into the short story due to his use of brilliant imagery, solemn diction, and precise syntax throughout the story. A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; “it takes sweat, determination, and hard work” (Colin Powell). Bierce inspired me to question what about our lives is and is not real. In order for more writers to create enjoyable short stories, they should incorporate these techniques into their own writing. 

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