What is unique about the imagined scene?"An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" by Ambrose Bierce

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Not only is the imagined scene in a suspension of time, but it is told from the third person limited point of view that assists with a "suspension of disbelief" on the part of the reader.  This point of view was begun three paragraphs prior to the beginning of Section II, so Bierce has surreptitiously already caught the reader into believing what follows.  Added to this, the metaphoric parallels of reality and Farquhar's imaginings run throughout the narrative making its verisimilitude only ambiguous.  For instance, Farquhar

had power only to feel...He was conscious of motion.  Encompassed in a luminous cloud, of which he was now merely the fiery heart, without material substance, he swung through unthinkable arcs of oscillation, like a vast pendulum.  [He is really swinging from the hangman's rope.]

The tremendous and lengthy detail joined by emotional diction sweeps the reader into the current of Farquhar's imagination; that is, until the jolting shift of point of view in the last paragraph, which reports the reality.

epollock | Student

The imagined time of Farquhar’s escape is an entire day, from earliest daylight to night. That his escape is so lengthy is particularly interesting because his perceptions permit an enormous amount of imaginary action to take place within no more than a few seconds. It is this vivid imagined scene that makes Bierce's work stand out so well. His use of diction almost makes one believe that Farquhar had indeed escaped, but by throwing in very carefully selected words, enables the reader to see through the cloud of mist and find out that he is indeed dead at the end of the story.

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An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge

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