Creating the standard plot chart for this story isn't quite as straightforward as it is for other short stories. The reason for this is because the story isn't told chronologically. A fairly substantial flashback occurs in part 2, so a reader has to decide whether or not that is part...
Creating the standard plot chart for this story isn't quite as straightforward as it is for other short stories. The reason for this is because the story isn't told chronologically. A fairly substantial flashback occurs in part 2, so a reader has to decide whether or not that is part of the exposition, rising action, or both.
I don't feel comfortable saying that the exposition is entirely in section 2. Readers are introduced in section 1 to a man being hanged. The story begins en medias res; however, that still counts as an exposition. This starting format is a standard "how did we get here" approach, and we aren't given many details of who the main character is before being hit with rising actions involving the soldiers moving into their final positions before dropping the man from the bridge.
I would claim that part 2 is a big rising action in and of itself as well. It doesn't fit chronologically because it gives exposition details about who Farquhar is and why he was on the bridge; however, the entire section adds massive tension to the story because readers know the man is falling, but we are ripped away from that moment. Bierce is holding our tension for a longer period of time by not letting us know what is happening to the man on the bridge. Section 2 ends with another small piece of information that further increases tension because we are told that Farquhar was clandestinely setup.
An hour later, after nightfall, he repassed the plantation, going northward in the direction from which he had come. He was a Federal scout.
Section 3 contains rising action after rising action. Farquhar's escape is both harrowing and miraculous, and things seem to get worse and worse. The climax occurs when Farquhar evades the final shot of grapeshot and plunges into the forest. Readers relax at this point, and Farquhar does as well. He's traveling home. This sequence is the falling action, and the conclusion is his death by hanging on the bridge. Readers realize that Farquhar imagined the entire escape.
Peyton Fahrquhar was dead; his body, with a broken neck, swung gently from side to side beneath the timbers of the Owl Creek bridge.