An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge Questions and Answers
by Ambrose Bierce

An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge book cover
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Does the story "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" make use of symbols?

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The story does make use of symbols, beginning with the setting, which is on the railroad bridge. In this case, the bridge specifically is a symbol. Some commentators believe that author Ambrose Bierce, who fought with the Union, was prompted to write "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" because of the many incidents in which Southern sympathizers tried to blow up bridges or roads to make it impossible for the North to get much-needed supplies.

That may be so, but nevertheless, the use of the bridge as a setting serves as a symbol. What does a bridge do? It spans and connects two sides or two places. In the story, the bridge spans life and death for Peyton Farquhar and symbolizes the few moments of his hanging, during which he is in limbo between the two states.

The railway tracks also serve as a symbol of Peyton's life and existence, which are fading away....

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