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 was Peyton Farquhar tricked by the scout into attempting to burn down the bridge?

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Ambrose Bierce provides most of the background exposition in a flashback in Part II of "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge." It can be seen in the interchange between Farquhar and the Federal scout disguised as a Confederate soldier that the scout is not really trying very hard to trick the planter into trying to burn down the bridge. Farquhar gets himself into trouble, and the scout just allows him to do it. It should not be assumed that the scout's job was to ride around trying to trick Southern civilians into deciding to commit acts of sabotage against the invading Union army. That doesn't seem sensible. Why should the Union army try to create further trouble for itself when it has enough trouble already? The scout is just a scout. His job is to collect whatever useful information he can, either through observation or through casual conversations with civilians. He is mainly interested in movements of Confederate troops and matters of that sort.

The scout...

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