An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce

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In "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge' the story is divided into three sections. What are their differences and their separate functions in the story?

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Ambrose Bierce divides his short story “An Occurrence at Owl Creek” into three sections, which apply different points of view and levels of consciousness to the same event: the hanging of Peyton Farquhar.

In the first section, a removed third-person narrator describes a man being prepared for hanging. Specific details—who the man is, how he is being tied up, the set-up, the bridge, the surrounding environment and people—are presented as if by an onlooker observing the scene. The first two paragraphs appear like a long shot in a film, but by the third paragraph, readers gain a more close-up view of Farquhar, the condemned man. We see his features and “kindly expression.”

In the fourth paragraph, Bierce seems to zoom back out with a description of the mechanics of the hanging. Suddenly, readers see the river from Farquhar’s point of view. The final three paragraphs of part I bring readers into Farquhar’s head as last-minute thoughts of his wife, children, and possible escape...

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