How might the impact of the story "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" be different if Bierce revealed the events in chronological order?

If Bierce revealed the events of "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" in chronological order, the story would have lost much of its dramatic impact, tension, suspense, and surprise.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Ambrose Bierce's story "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" features a fascinating narrative structure. The story's first section presents a man about to be hung. This man is already standing on a railroad bridge with a rope around his neck. The soldiers around him finish their preparations as the man thinks of his family. He thinks that if he could only free his hands, he might have some chance to escape. Then the sergeant steps aside as a sign to let the man drop.

This beginning in media res, in the midst of things, is effective for its drama and its mystery. It pulls readers into the story and gives them just enough information to understand a little of what is going on. It also allows readers to feel the emotion of the main character even though they do not yet know his name or anything about him. They are already caught up in his story, and they want to know what will happen next.

But Bierce doesn't continue the story just yet. The second part of the tale flashes back to formally...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 863 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on