Discussion Topics

(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Is Ambrose Bierce’s an “overlooked” writer because he was a nonrealist in a realistic literary era, because his output was too small, or for some other reason?

What virtues of good journalistic writing did Bierce bring to the composition of short stories?

Was “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” designed to lead to a “surprise ending,” or is the story’s ideal reader expected to perceive that Peyton’s “escape” is an illusion?

Discuss Bierce’s “Chickamauga” as a striking fictional fulfillment of the following statement: The Civil War was a conflict in which contacts between soldiers and civilians were frequent and keenly felt.

Bierce’s fiction is referred to as psychological rather than realistic. Justify or challenge this assertion by reference to several of his stories.