An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate September 2001

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At the beginning of "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge," we see a man standing over a bridge with a noose about his neck, as his execution is about to happen. The man has a thought before he is to be thrown over the side, and that is "If I could free my hands," from which an entire story develops. He sees himself escaping after the rope snaps and swimming in the creek while dodging shots from Union soldiers making his way home. At the moment of his arrival, his neck snaps for us to discover that he never left the bridge, and that all that had happened was in his mind in the instant that he was falling off the bridge to his death.

The illusion of his mind is difficult to go through, but upon closer inspection, we see the little expression of reality on this alternate reality that Farquhar is experiencing.

As he frees his hands, he gives reference to his own "superhuman strength." He also begins to note his surroundings with an ability that no human being can possess, as he can now see the "veining of each leaf - the very insects upon them," as his mind attempts to assure him that he is truly alive and experiencing these things around him.

The entire story could not have taken place were the point of view from a source, other than one that could see into Peyton Farquhar's mind. Were it could be taken from anyone else, they would simply have seen him standing at the edge of the bridge, get thrown over, and his neck snap. But in taking you into the mind of the main character, we are unable to expect the ending that we as readers receive, because...