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

An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge

by Ambrose Bierce
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What is the last scene Farquhar imagines before he dies?

The last scene Farquhar imagines before he dies is arriving back at his plantation in the early morning light with his beautiful wife awaiting him at the bottom of the veranda.

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In the final scene he imagines, Farquhar believes he has arrived back at his plantation. It looks "bright and beautiful" in the early morning sun. Farquhar realizes he must have traveled all night to get there. He goes through the gate and up the walk, where he sees his wife,...

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In the final scene he imagines, Farquhar believes he has arrived back at his plantation. It looks "bright and beautiful" in the early morning sun. Farquhar realizes he must have traveled all night to get there. He goes through the gate and up the walk, where he sees his wife, looking cool and fresh, coming down from the veranda to meet him. He thinks she looks beautiful and graceful as she waits for him joyfully. He opens his arms t0 embrace her, then feels a "stunning blow" at the back of his neck as it breaks from the noose. Then he dies.

If we go back and look at this scene once we know what has really happened, we see how idealized it is and how it contrasts with his reality. In this final image, everything is perfect and fresh and pure, lit with an early-morning glow. As he dies, he sees his plantation as he would like it to be, gracious and lovely, and his wife, too, appears in an idealized form.

All of this should tip us off that the scene is not real, but the last fantasy of a dying man. However, a reader can be too caught up in the story to realize this at first.

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