What point of view does the writer use in Part III of the story,  which occurs within the few seconds before Farquhar dies?  

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Ambrose Bierce's innovative and intriguing short story, "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge," there are variations in point of view:

  1. omniscient, in which the narrator knows everything about all the characters and events
  2. objective, in which the narrator simply reports without comment, must as a camera would record a scene
  3. third-person limited, in which the narrator focuses on the thoughts and feelings of a single character.

In Part III of his narrative, Bierce employs two variations of point of view, third-person limited and objective. Throughout most of part III, the third-person limted is used as Bierce's narrator zooms in on the sensations of Peyton Farquhar as he is "conscious of nothing but a feeling of fullness....of torment...of motion."  Interestlngly, it is through this third-person limited point of view that the psychology of Farquhar is explored, rather than through first-person point of view, which is more often used in such circumstances.  Then, it is only in the final paragraph that the realization of the extent to which Farquahr's imagination has contributed to the narrative strikes the reader who is jolted by the use of objective point of view:

Peyton Farquhar was dead; his body, with a broken neck, swung gently from side to side beneath the timbers of the Owl Creek bridge.

This effective use of point of view makes Bierce's short story one that serves as a sterling example of the creative manipulation of one of the primary elements of the short story genre.

Read the study guide:
An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge

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