What was the function of the flashback of section 2 and why is it placed where it is?
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The flashback tells us the events that occurred in the past leading up to Farquhar's hanging. Flashback is often used to provide background information that is needed to understand the present events of the story. It is placed in this particular part so the reader can better understand not just the events, but also the type of man Farquhar is.
Bierce strategically places the flashback on section two for three reasons:
1) to maintain suspense as to Peyton's fate; Bierce breaks an otherwise linear timeline in order to "trick" the reader into hoping that Peyton might somehow, miraculously, escape the northerners.
2) to inform the reader about the circumstances which led to Peyton's hanging.
3) To establish that the narrator is an omniscient one whose story is taking place in about 10 seconds of real time, whereas the "story time" is several days longer.
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