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 is the setting of "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge"?

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Ambrose Bierce's short story "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" takes place during the Civil War on a railroad bridge in northern Alabama, where Peyton Fahrquhar awaits his death by hanging as he stands on a plank twenty feet above the river. In Part Two of the short story, the reader learns that Peyton Fahrquhar's plantation is about thirty miles from the Owl Creek Bridge, which he plans on destroying to halt the Union soldiers' advance, after being manipulated by a Union spy. The specific time and date of which the events take place are never explicitly mentioned in the text. However, the reader is told that Peyton could not participate in the "disastrous campaigns ending with the fall of Corinth," which historically took place in late May of 1862. Therefore, one can surmise that the short story takes place sometime around late spring or summer of 1862. Overall, the setting of "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" takes place on a bridge in northern Alabama around the summer of 1862 during the American Civil War.

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Generally speaking, the setting of a story is the time and physical location.  

The text of "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" never gives an actual date to the story. The reader is able to know that the story must be taking place between April 1861 and April 1865, because those are the dates of the American Civil War. Interestingly enough, Bierce's original text opened the story by stating that it took place during the summer of 1862.

As for the physical location of the events in the story, the reader is told that the story happens in northern Alabama. 

A man stood upon a railroad bridge in northern Alabama, looking down into the swift water twenty feet below.

As the story continues, the reader learns that the bridge that Farquhar is standing on is a relatively short distance away from his plantation. In part two of the story, the Federal scout tells Farquhar that Owl Creek Bridge is "about thirty miles" from the house.

"How far is it to the Owl Creek bridge?" Farquhar asked.

"About thirty miles."

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