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William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Peyton Farquhar is definitely a Southerner, a Confederate sympathizer and staunch supporter of the South in the Civil War, but he is a civilian plantation owner at the time of the story which takes place during the war. Farquhar has been deceived by a Union scout posing as a Confederate soldier. This scout stopped by Farquhar's home and told him that the strategically important Owl Creek Bridge could easily be set afire because of all the driftwood that had piled up against it. When the story opens Farquhar is about to be hanged because he decided to make a solo attempt to sabotage the bridge and was easily caught by the Union sentries because they were expecting their scout to have inspired some patriotic Southerner to make just such an attempt. The bridge is being held by the Union Army and is of great importance for further advances of the army. Although the bridge assumes great importance in Farquhar's life as well, since his adventure leads to his death, the surrealistic story's title suggests that this is just a trivial occurrence at a remote site in a great conflict which resulted in the deaths of over 600,000 men.

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An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge

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