how to write a letter about An Concurrence at Owl Creek Bridge?  how to tell her how he was captured and why he will be hanged.what instructions would he have for her?what are your last requests?...

how to write a letter about An Concurrence at Owl Creek Bridge? 

how to tell her how he was captured and why he will be hanged.what instructions would he have for her?what are your last requests? what does wife need to know?how to take are of the plantation? needs to be explain. the slaves who work on the plantation. how to handle the money who gets paid to how much? where goes to money bank or safety deposit box in the barn.

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carol-davis eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Ambrose Bierce wanted his reader to be surprised at the end of “ The Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” so he manipulated time and the sequence of events. Consequently, the reader has to go back and re-read the Peyton Farquhar's story in the chronological order of events.

One important fact occurs that impacts your letter:

 The lady had now brought the water, which the soldier drank. He thanked her ceremoniously, bowed to her husband and rode away. An hour later, after nightfall, he repassed the plantation, going northward in the direction from which he had come. He was a Federal scout.

Peyton’s wife had missed the discussion about the bridge. She probably was not privy to her husband’s decision to destroy the bridge for the cause. 

What are some important facts that are relevant to the letter?

  1. He loved his wife and children.

  2. His imperious nature kept him from serving in the army….translated he was either unable to take orders because of his arrogance or domineering personality

  3. Peyton, like many men, cannot be defined by one word. He was an honorable man….he trusted the soldier because of the man’s accoutrement and he gullibly accepted his story about the importance of Owl Creek Bridge.

  4. Peyton has an escape fantasy which leads him back to the loving arms of his wife.

  5. Instead of joining the cause, he has only dreamed about becoming a soldier and the cause. Most men of his class enlisted in the army as officers. He had given some service at various times to help the rebels.

  6. His plantation and his slaves were important to him.

  7. He was a politician.

As in most personal letters, the language would be loving and implore carefully chosen words. Each paragraph would have a specific purpose leading to his goodbye wishes for his family:

  1. The reason for the letter would come first.

  2. The deception of the soldier would need to be explained since his wife had not heard the story.

  3. His decision, probably brought on by guilt for not serving in the Southern army, to burn the bridge would have been unknown to the wife. Here is the time that he would mention his being caught and the penalty for his crime.

  4. His instructions about the plantation would go hand in hand with the necessary things to do for her to go on with her life.

  5. His dying declaration of his love and his request for forgiveness would sound sincere even with his imperious voice. He would write specifically about why he loved her and what he would miss in their lives together.

In this letter, the most important part would be to maintain Peyton’s voice. What would he say based on the story and his fantasy?

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Before beginning the letter of Peyton Farquhar to his wife, it is important to consider the situation of the Confederacy at the time of his capture: Bierce writes, "The gallant army...had fought the disastrous campaigns ending with the fall of Corinth," a battle fought in 1862 in which 65,000 of General Beauregard's army fought 120,000 of Union General Halleck's army. While each side lost 1,000 soldiers, the Confederate troops were clearly better soldiers, but outnumbered. Added to this situation, they were starving, suffering from scurvy, dysentery, typhoid, and other sickness. With the decimation and enervation of a valiant army as well as the loss of a strategic point at the junction of vital railroad lines in the South (the Mobile and Ohio Railroads and the Memphis and Charleston Railroads), Farquhar must surely realize that Ulysses Grant has taken control of this point which he can use to seize control of the Mississippi River Valley. Therefore, the cause of the Confederacy seems doomed.

Realizing this, Farquhar would probably encourage his wife to try to reap whatever crops are ready for harvesting. Perhaps the cotton is ready because the river water is described as cold; since it is after the Battle of Corinth which took place at the end of May, 1862, and the Union Army has been in the area for a while, the river would not be cold until the beginning of Fall, the time for harvesting of cotton. 

If his wife obtains the money from the sale of cotton--if she can sell it--he would be likely to urge her to sale anything else that she can and leave. If she can, Mrs. Farquhar needs to obtain gold as Confederate money may become worthless. For, he may have overheard the Union soldiers' conjectures about fighting to control the Mississippi River Valley and then move on to Vicksburg. In this case, he may urge her to move to a relative's in a city because she would be too vulnerable alone on a remote plantation (these were often hundreds of acres in size, so neighbors were not close). Perhaps, she has a relative in Tennessee or Kentucky where she can get away from the battles. She needs to take the deed to the land in hopes of selling it. Perhaps, she can take a couple more loyal slaves, such as those who have lived in the house; the others she will have to set free.

Read the study guide:
An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge

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