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Posted on June 16th, 2012, by

Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce is a writer whose works are marked with twisted plots and unexpected endings. The author doesn’t just try to make his stories interesting and amazing but makes the readers deepen into inner world and problems of the main characters. Sometimes, as for example in his famous short story, An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, Bierce gives us inside into protagonist’s behaviour and thoughts in extreme, extraordinary situations.

The story is very short, but it combines a description of present and past events, background and the leading place is taken by inner thoughts and reflections of the main character, Peyton Farquhar. The narrative begins with a picture of a condemned man standing on a bridge. A millstone is hanged about his neck. The atmosphere is quiet, just two sentinels are on guard and the captain with his people is preparing for the torture. You ask yourself a question: why is this man condemned, what will happen and so on. From the first words you are interested in the plot development.

Every detail is perfectly sorted out and they all in whole keep us tensed before the serving of a sentence.

In the very culmination, hearing the breath of the death, Peyton tries to concentrate himself on his wife and little children, but sounds of water, insects, soldiers distract him. Suddenly another noise disturbs his flow of thoughts. It sounds so loud and terrible that it seems Peyton won’t be able to stand it. The intervals of silence grew progressively longer, the delays became maddening. With their greater infrequency the sounds increased in strength and sharpness. They hurt his ear like the thrust of a knife; he feared he would shriek. (Bierce, 16). This sound is just ticking of his watch. He gazes at water and can’t believe that this stream flows so slowly, every second lasts eternity.

So the feeling of coming death sharpens hearing to supreme extend and stops time flow. Last Peyton’s thoughts are about his beloved family and now we can’t stay aside. We are suffering with Peyton and praying for his life saving.  Sudden thought of escape from the cleft stick creates disorder in the plot. Now we can’t imagine what will occur and where these desperate hopes will lead.

Only final part explains us the situation, gives information about the main character. We get more information about his past life, find out about his readiness to do anything to protect the South and his protest against the federal power. We see a strong, self-confident personality, ready to dye for his views, sharing his fortune with his beloved wife. Peyton is caught and sentenced to hang as a spy. Doubtless we take his side, seeing injustice and cruelty of the real world. Peyton radiates strength and calmness in extreme situations, even facing the death his mind has force to escape from desperate reality he is living. Our mind is omnipotent and our life is invaluable. Exactly this story made me understand this and taught me to appreciate short and unpredictable life.

The reader finds himself placed between two worlds while reading the story. One world reflects objective reality and true events as they happen. The third person omniscient author, who tells the story like the unpreconceived observer, tells this part of narration. Another world consists of fantasies, hopes and wishes of the main hero. These two worlds interconnect and penetrate each other, creating two different dimensions of the story.

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