An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge Questions and Answers
by Ambrose Bierce

An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge book cover
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What clues does the author of “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” provide to show that Peyton Farquhar’s escape is only an illusion?

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Although most readers fall for Ambrose Bierce's trick and are surprised when Farquhar swings from the bridge after all, Bierce leaves plenty of clues that the escape is imaginary. For example, although senses may be heightened under stress, the exaggerated abilities Farquhar possesses strain credulity. While swimming away in the river, he can see the veins in the leaves of the trees on the shore and the insects upon them. He can see the eye of the sharpshooter looking at him through the sights of the rifle. Though frantically swimming away from the bridge, he can observe the actions of the sentinels on the bridge. A bullet fired at him lodges between his collar and neck, and he snatches it out.

His walk toward home is similarly impossible and contains other hints. He sees a "roseate light" and hears "aeolian harps," both representative of the afterlife. He hears "whispers in an unknown tongue," an allusion to the Bible passage that begins,...

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