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

An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge book cover
Start Your Free Trial

What evidence can you find to indicate that Farquhar is experiencing great pain, despite his feelings that he is escaping?

Expert Answers info

Edith Sykes eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2007

write1,721 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Business

The evidence that Peyton Farquhar is suffering and in great pain, despite the feeling that he is escaping.

"He thought he shouted these words to his hands, for the undoing of the noose had been succeeded by the direst pang that he had yet experienced. His neck ached horribly; his brain was on fire; his heart, which had been fluttering faintly, gave a great leap, trying to force itself out at his mouth. His whole body was racked and wrenched with an insupportable anguish! But his disobedient hands gave no heed to the command."

"They beat the water vigorously with quick, downward strokes, forcing him to the surface. He felt his head emerge; his eyes were blinded by the sunlight; his chest expanded convulsively, and with a supreme and crowning agony his lungs engulfed a great draught of air, which instantly he expelled in a shriek!"

In the above passages, Farquhar experiences supreme pain, feeling it all over his body.  The whole time that he is swimming then running, he is struggling to breathe, dodging bullets, trying to stay ahead of the soldiers who are determined to shoot him dead.

Even though he is daydreaming of the escape, it is rough and painful, it is certainly not an enjoyable daydream for Farquhar.  It is filled with panic, fear and desperation.  The only moment of joy that the daydream brings is when he sees his wife.  Since it was his daydream, he should have been able to hug his wife, but that is not the case in this story. 

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

writergal06 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2008

write352 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and Science

The whole time that Farquhar is "escaping," he refers to his heightened senses and new perspective in life. He sees things in more detail than he used to, and is suddenly aware of constellations that he's never noticed before. When he is drowning, his hands are moving without him realizing it. When he removes the noose, pain shoots through his body in an extreme form that he hasn't experienced before. The re-occurrence of the sharp ticking also points to the pain that he is experiencing in reality. As he nears his house, Farquhar notices a swelling in his eyes, tongue, and neck. Right before he hugs his wife, he feels a sharp pain in his neck, pulling him from his dream and back into reality.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial