An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge Questions and Answers
by Ambrose Bierce

An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge book cover
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With what emotions did you respond to the ending of "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge"?

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The story's ending is so shocking in some ways that the reader must first come to terms with what has happened to Peyton Farquhar. It turns out that almost the entirety of part 3 of the story has taken place in Farquhar's own head, his sense of time having slowed down in the extreme as he waited to be hanged. However, Bierce does such a good job of compelling our sympathy for Farquhar throughout the story—such as in Farquhar's attempt to fix his final thoughts on his wife and children, his extreme desire to return to his family, and his relief when he sees his beautiful wife again—that I feel sad for him when it is revealed that part 3 all took place as he fell from the bridge to the end of his rope. Despite the fact that he is devoted to the Southern cause, has tried to disrupt the Northern war effort by burning a bridge, and, we must assume, owns slaves, Farquhar has been so thoroughly humanized by Bierce that I am filled with sympathy for this man.

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