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

An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge book cover
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How is auditory imagery (describe the sound) used throughout the story? What is one instance of such description that stood out?

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Bierce uses auditory imagery throughout the short story to create an atmosphere of immediacy, violence, and tension. The sounds are loud, graphic, and startling. The protagonist, Peyton Farquhar, is assaulted by sounds before his hanging and during his imagined near-drowning and escape.

One recurring example of auditory imagery is the sound of water. In part one, the swirling water beneath Peyton seems sluggish yet ominous. In part two, a Federal scout asks for a drink of water, which Peyton’s wife brings him. The sound of water grows louder and more vivid, though, in part three as Peyton hallucinates almost drowning and escaping. As he falls into the water, he hears a loud splash and “frightful roaring.” Upon surfacing, he feels and hears rippling waves hit. A particularly effective instance of noises coalescing to create an sense of immediacy (as if the...

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