How are "Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge" and "My Kinsman, Major Molineux" similar and different using perception vs reality?

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sullymonster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "Occurence", there is a false perception on both the part of the reader and the protagonist.  Peyton believes that the man that he meets is a friend, an ally in the cause of the South.  In fact, that man is the enemy.  Readers believe that Peyton has escaped death - the truth is that he only imagines his escape.  However, his imagination is detailed and provides him with some release.

In "Kinsman", there is also a false perception on the part of the protagonist.  He believes that his kinsman, the Major, is respected in the town.  Because of his belief, Robin is confused and stymied in his attempts to gain information from the townspeople.  Like Peyton, he is forced into false assumptions.

However, despite Robin's confusion, the readers are not left as "in the dark" as they are in "Occurrence."  Instead, the readers are aware that Robin's inquiries into the Major are met with anger.  The reader can perceive that the Major is not respected; Robin, working on false assumptions, can not.  This difference is characterized by the different time periods in which the stories were written.  As writing moved from Romanticism (Kinsman) to Realism (Occurrence), the narratives become more complex, and often more difficult to follow. 

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An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge

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