silhouette of a man half submerged in water wiht a noose around his neck

An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge

by Ambrose Bierce

Start Free Trial

In "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" and "10 minutes," what techniques did you notice that helped create meaning within these texts?

Expert Answers

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

Quite clearly, the major technique that is used in "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" is the sudden, harsh and surprise ending that brings us back to reality and makes us realise that what we had just read was a flight of fantasy rather than an actual escape from a hanging. Consider the abrupt way in which this brilliant short story ends:

Peyton Farquhar was dead; his body, with a broken neck, swung gently from side to side beneath the timbers of the Owl Creek bridge.

This abruptness seems to reinforce the extreme distaste that Ambrose Bierce had for sentimental illusions. Note the uncompromising diction as we focus in on the "broken neck" and the way that the body swings "gently from side to side." Farquhar's romantic illusions concerning the war are dramatically cut short as he is captured and executed, just as our illusion as readers of his escape is cut short with this matter-of-fact sentence that brutally conveys the reality of what really happened.

In "10 Minutes," one of the techniques that impressed me greatly was featured in the central part of the film, where we are introduced to a boy and his family in war torn former Yugoslavia. What impressed me was the way that normal scenes from a normal life such as a mother having to tell her son repeatedly to go for water were juxtaposed with far more sinister and disturbing scenes of what had become normal for them: the presence of guns and the boy learning how to take it apart and clean it, the ubiquitous danger of snipers and soldiers, and the scarcity of bread. Such a technique of presenting the two together forces us to experience the realities of war in a way that we have never done so before.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team