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In Ambrose Bierce's "An Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge," the reader discovers that the...

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kristenmarieb... | Student, Grade 10 | Valedictorian

Posted February 10, 2013 at 7:46 PM via web

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In Ambrose Bierce's "An Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge," the reader discovers that the man to whom Farquhar has been speaking is not a Confederate soldier, but a Federal scout. What impact on the story does this have?

That is, what inferences can you draw from this incident? I need to write a paragraph, drawing inferences about the meaning to the story in this meeting betwen Farquhar and the Federal Scout. 

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 2) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 10, 2013 at 9:02 PM (Answer #1)

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Clearly, the fact that the man to whom Farquhar speaks at the end of his property one evening is not a Confederate soldier, but a Federal scout instead is central to Bierce's ridicule of the sentimental illusions to which humans cling as Farquhar later becomes the butt of the satire of this story, rather than the sympathetic hero.

Thus, it is not so much the horrors of war that Bierce writes of, but the romantic illusions inside the mind of a man whose foolishly exposed heroic act condemns him to death. That Farquar entertains romantic ideas of war is evident as he "chafed under the inglorious restraint" of the war; he feels that

[N]o service was too humble for him to perform in aid of the South, no adventure too perilous for him to undertake with a civilian who was at heart a soldier, and who assented to at least a part of the frankly villainous dictum that all is fair in love and war.

Even at the end of the story that is written in stream-of-consciousness, Farquar retreats into his imagination in his futile condition as he envisions his escape and return to the arms of his wife who expresses her "ineffable joy."  Such an ending in its irony is rather vicious in its satiric depiction as not only Farquar is deceived, but so is the reader.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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