This story, "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" by Ambrose Bierce, is a commentary on the Civil War. An avid patriot of the South, Payton Farquhar is eager to do whatever he can to further the cause and stop the Northern aggression. The Northern soldiers are equally intent on punishing anyone who interferes with the movement or distribution of the materiel of war. Farquhar is caught in his treasonous act and must now pay with his life. He is being hanged at sunrise from Owl Creek Bridge; as he falls, he has a vision of a broken rope and an escape. Where he goes in this vision, of course, is back to his home and his wife. As he walks through his gate
he sees a flutter of female garments; his wife, looking fresh and cool and sweet, steps down from the veranda to meet him. At the bottom of the steps she stands waiting, with a smile of ineffable joy, an attitude of matchless grace and dignity.
Just as her husband is about to embrace her, his vision ends and he dangles, dead, from the end of the noose. That's it. Mrs. Farquhar does not say a word--not then, and not the one other time we see her serving water to a soldier. She says nothing either time. This is Payton Farquhar's story and vision; his wife is simply a symbol of home and the thing worth fighting for and coming home to during this time of war.