Why is Farquhar's death only revealed at the end of the story?

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Peyton Farquhar's death cannot be revealed until the end of the story because so much of the story— almost the entirety of part 3—happens in the moment just before his neck snaps in the noose. In fact, there would be little story to tell were it not for everything that takes place in Farquhar's mind in the seconds just before he reaches the end of his rope. It is through part 3 that the reader begins to sympathize with Farquhar, that we may actually find ourselves rooting for him—first as the underdog when he seems to swim away from the Union army rifles, then later as a fellow human being who simply wants to return to his wife and family—and this sympathy is the key to the story's power. By giving readers so much time to spend inside Farquhar's mind, Bierce compels us to sympathize with a slave owner, a person most of us would be quite willing to condemn immediately. This time before Farquhar's death allows Bierce to convey the idea that we do so often dehumanize people we see as enemies; we have a tendency to demonize others because we see them as "others." It seems as though Bierce wants us to think of Farquhar as a whole person, rather than one who is defined solely by something that makes him hateful.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on February 27, 2020
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