In "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge," what are the main events?

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"An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge " is not structured in a traditional manner with the events occurring in chronological order. The story is divided into three parts, with Part II being a flashback; the events in Part II occurred before those in Parts I and III. Arranging the...

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"An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" is not structured in a traditional manner with the events occurring in chronological order. The story is divided into three parts, with Part II being a flashback; the events in Part II occurred before those in Parts I and III. Arranging the events in the order they occurred, then, becomes the reader's responsibility. Bierce further complicates the structure of the story by including those events that happened in real time and those that happened only in Peyton's mind.

That said, here are the events that make up the plot of the story.

1. At his home, Peyton speaks to a Union spy, believing that the soldier is a member of the Confederate army. From this conversation, Peyton gains information about the location of the Union forces  and the condition of the Owl Creek Bridge. The spy implies that burning the bridge would be an easy task.

2. Peyton attempts to burn the bridge and is captured. (This event is not detailed in the story; it is implied because Peyton is about to be hanged in the story by Northern soldiers at the bridge.)

3. Peyton is hanged from the bridge, his execution being carried out in a formal military manner.

4. During his execution, Peyton's mind protects him from the horror of his impending death. He imagines hitting the water, freeing his hands, dodging bullets, and making his escape to return to his home. Peyton's reverie ends with his wife reaching out for him--just as he hits the end of the rope, breaking his neck. These are events in the story, but they happen only in Peyton's mind.

The events in the story that actually occur in reality are minimal: Peyton talks to the wrong soldier and is hanged from Owl Creek bridge.

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