In "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge," does "Man vs. Man" or "Man vs. Nature" apply to the story?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Both of these ideas apply to some degree in Ambrose Bierce's short story "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge." The man vs. man relationships are obvious: Farquar, the spy, has been caught by his adversaries, and they are about to execute the sentence of hanging. His imagined escape also involves surviving the pursuit of his captors. If he is the stronger, faster and smarter man, he may yet elude his foes. Farquar's mental images before the hanging certainly involve the man vs. nature angle. He refuses to give up even as he falls with his neck in the noose. His mind convinces him that he can survive the inevitable strangulation if the rope breaks and if he can survive the fall and the drowning and if he can evade the bullets. The images of his family sustain him, as do the real ones of the veins on the leaves and the slow-moving limb in the river below. He imagines that he can run throughout the night and return to his family until his last breath relieves him of the images and possibilities of life.

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An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge

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