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A Hurtful Reality in An Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge Essay


A dream is just an illusion of reality. It is a deceptive appearance of a sometimes hurtful truth. By dreaming we can distort the world we live in, promoting our wants and changing events in our advantage but this remains just as a thought in our minds where outside of this bubble there is a totally different situation. Peyton Farquar in An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce is quite an ideal character who portrays this idea. Peyton Farquhars dream clearly distorts the reality of his position.

Peyton Farquar is a planter of a respected Alabama family he was bonded to the southern cause being a slave owner himself. One evening Farquhar and his wife are seated on a bench near his lands, a soldier asks for a drink of water. Mrs. Farquhar with joy serves him the water. The soldier chats with the Farquhars and mentions a stockade on Owl Creek Bridge, he concludes by stating that there was a large quantity of driftwood and could easily be burned down. Mr. Farquhar was ardently devoted to the Southern cause but because of unknown circumstances he was prevented from serving as a soldier. That did not stop him from providing aid, he did what he could. He was a civilian with the heart of a soldier. The story skips from here suddenly Mr. Farquhar is falling from the bridge indicating that he did try to burn the wood and was captured and being hung. As falling to the stream the rope breaks and he is submerged into the stream. Peyton in a series of events that occur in his dream modifies the truth into his own convenience. Bierce does not indicate that Peyton is actually dreaming he rather continues narrating it as a truthful event.

In the story An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge," the protagonist is in a situation which is almost illogical, he is being hung but miraculously he evades the action, He knew the rope had broken and he had fallen into the stream. Events continue on Suddenly he heard a sharp report and something struck the water smartly within a few inches of his head, spattering his face with spray He saw one of the sentinels with rifle at his shoulder, a light cloud of blue smoke rising from the muzzlethis one had missed (73). It seems quite incredible that just after the rope tears miraculously he eludes the shot by just inches. This comes to a suspicion that these events might be untrue and just a creation of his imagination.

Continuing his journey in an effort to evade the shots of the soldiers Farquhar dives deeply. The water roared in his ears like the voice of Niagara yet he heard the dulled thunder of the volley and rising again toward the surface met shining bits of metal flattened. Some of them touched him on the face and hands then fell away (74). He still remains alive; supposedly the bullets arrive at his body but with little to no force. The reader may once again begin thinking that these occurrences are way too unbelievable and almost of a heavenly interveniance. His dream is full of actions that only could happen once in a million times and these actions combined are like hitting the jackpot on a slot machine in Las Vegas then winning the lottery.

The occurring life risking events stop and shift into a more calm scene the Current of water drifts him far away till he reaches land and from there he continues on foot until he stands at the gate of his own home He pushes open the gate and passes up the wide white walk he sees a flutter of female garments; his wife looking fresh and cool and sweet steps down to meet him.. How beautiful she is, he springs forward with extended arms (76). After this exhausting and adventurous journey he finally arrives to his house. His wife waiting for him anxiously and as they see each other he feels relieved. It may seem like the end of an incredible story with a happy ending them hugging and kissing and living happily ever after but the author continues with totally rotating mood. Mr. Farquhar now wakes up from his dream only to feel a stunning blow upon the back of the neck. All of his perfectly thought escape now is vanished and what is left is only the cruel truth of being dead. It was just a dream he had in the last two seconds of his life, an illusion of great convenience to him and with much luck. The truth now is revealed hurting, the dream being just a deceptive magical distortion of the sad reality.

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