Historical Accuracy In Ambrose Bierce’s An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge
In An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge Ambrose Bierce put a unique and clear historical perspective that his writings can convey to the audience. To begin building the story Bierce uses symbolism to illustrate the many historical references. An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridgeshows many accurate historical actions that happened during the American Civil War. He depicts these events as a white civilian living in the south. The time period of the story accurately describes the despair that many Americans had to go through because of the Civil War.
The author Ambrose Bierce was able to so accurately depict the events that took place in the story because he was enlisted in the Union Army when the American Civil War was taking place. In the story he depicted the segregation that he witnessed and the many gorrie details that took place while he was serving. In the story of An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge Peyton Farquhar is the main character who was a confederate sympathizer. The author uses the character to emphasize the devastation and the heavy weight of having a different political view then the majority of the state of Alabama during the time period of the story. Bierce begins the story with a scene of a hanging. This person had committed treason and was a Confederate civilian. This is a prime example of the dramatic and prideful rituals of death they would perform against traders of their side of the country. This allows the reader to see the fear of hanging that was placed in the minds of the people during the time frame of the Civil War. This also gives the reader a bit of perspective that to see the way things were delt with during the early American time when prejudice still played a major role in the decision making process of simple Americans.
Peyton Farquar lived in Alabama, Bierce is able to use this to his advantage to depict southern farmers’ lifestyles previous to industrialization. Which was back when almost everyone had to rely on manual labor to be able to survive. We know that Payton Farquar was a Confederate sympathizer, which might be considered odd because he did not serve any time with the military. This minor detail deeply expresses the loyalty and mightiness that the average civilians came almost equipped with during the time frame of the story. Farquar’s death was one of the just 50,000 civilian executions that took place during the Civil War. The heartbreaking scene is a tribute to the tens of thousands of American’s lives that were tragically and wrongfully taken because they had a different political opinion then the area which they happened to live in.
The author, Ambrose Bierce was depicted as “bitter” after returning home from the war because of his views on war, peace, and life in general. Bierce’s ways of thinking are very clearly seen as he was illustrating Farquar’s death. In the story Peyton Farquar believes that when the plank is dropped the rope breaks, he is dropped into the water, where he then breaks free from the noose, escapes from captivity, and returns home to his family. At the end of the story it is made known that what he was experiencing hallucinations and he was in reality hanged and dead. Bierce is trying to convey the ignorance that any typical farmer would have had in those times. While also conveying the loyalty that an average farmer would have had.
Bierce suffered and witnessed many applications in his lifetime, specifically during the time period of the Civil War. This allowed him something to share and sympathize with in his writings. This advantage gave him the ability to be a great writer for many generations of audiences. When Bierce wrote this story he was telling the devastating story of a poor southern farmer, while at the same time ironically telling about his service in the Union Army. An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge is a masterpiece of historical significance of the Civil War and the effect that it had on the lives of Americans.
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