An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce

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

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Jonathan Beutlich eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The setting that readers are first introduced to is a railroad bridge over a river or stream in northern Alabama. The events of the story are taking place during the American Civil War, which took place between 1861 and 1865. It is possible to narrow the date range a bit. In the second part of the story, readers are told that Peyton Farquhar "chafes" at the fact that he has been unable to serve the Confederate Army as a soldier. In that section, readers are told that the Battle of Corinth was met with disastrous results. That battle was a Union victory in October of 1862. It is likely that the story is taking place during the spring of 1863. The Union spy tells Farquhar about the wood up against the bridge, and he specifically mentions that the wood is from the previous winter.

The soldier reflected. "I was there a month ago," he replied. "I observed that the flood of last winter had lodged a great quantity of driftwood 6 against the wooden pier at this end of the bridge. It is now dry and would burn like tinder."

Once Farquhar begins imagining his escape, the events are occurring in his mind; however, he is still imagining places in Alabama at that time.

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gbeatty eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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There are two settings here.

The first is the literal, physical setting. The story takes place on a railroad bridge in Alabama (over, as the title indicates, Owl Creek). All the physical action happens there.

However, there is a second setting, which is inside the mind of the man who is being hanged. In the last instants of life, he moves off into a blend of wishes, dreams, and memories to envision himself swimming home. He remembers his past life and his plantation home, creating virtual settingsā€¦before death takes him.

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laur | Student

what is the theme of this story? what point is the author trying to tell in this story?

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msiegal | Student

"A man stood upon a railroad bridge in northern Alabama, looking down into the swift water twenty feet below." this describes where the main character LITERALLY is. During this moment, right before getting his neck broken from the rope, he imagines in his mind that he escaped and got home. So, though the actual setting is the bridge, the other setting is purely imagination and fantasy of the character, within his own mind.

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