What major events occur in “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”?

Ambrose Bierce's “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” follows the hanging of Alabama planter Peyton Farquhar, who was caught planning to burn Owl Creek Bridge. Farquhar drops from the bridge and into the water, swimming rapidly away as the soldiers fire, then pulls himself up onto land and runs for home. At the end of the story, however, Farquhar's body hangs from the bridge, and readers are left to decide what really happened.

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As Ambrose Bierce's “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” opens, we see a man standing on a railroad bridge with his wrists bound and a rope around his neck. He is about to be hanged by Union soldiers. The narrator describes the prisoner, a man about thirty-five years old, as a planter and a civilian with a “kindly expression.” Yet this man is about to drop to his death, and we readers wonder why. As the soldiers make their final preparations, the narrator describes the man's thoughts. He looks down at the stream so far below and remembers his family. He hears the loud ticking of his watch and thinks that if he could only free his hands, he might have a chance to escape. With this thought, the narrator plants a seed in readers' minds.

Just as the Union sergeant steps aside, ready to complete the hanging, the story flashes back, and we learn that the man on the bridge is Peyton Farquhar, an Alabama planter who has had the misfortune to hint at his plans to burn the Owl Creek bridge...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 966 words.)

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on December 8, 2020