The role of survival in Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge and Build a fire

Essay by 890765A+, September 2008

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The instinct to survive is found deep within the human nature. It is that which keeps every individual driven to fight through the toughest circumstances in order to remain their existence. The short stories “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” by Ambrose Bierce and “To Build a Fire” by Jack London each are linked to the role of survival that exists in every individual. Each of these author’s pieces of literature are linked with the role of survival by the use of the literary elements.

Through the use of irony, the short story “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” is linked to the role of survival. The protagonist Peyton Farquhar is being hanged by federal troops. He closes his eyes to imagine his family, at which time his imagination takes over and he imagines a great escape from the federal troops. He desired to survive even in the darkness of pending death.

Even while in the water, he had power only to feel, and feeling was torment. He was conscious of motion, most likely when his body had been dropped from the plank. In his mind, he struggles in the water and finds himself at the gates of his house where his wife greets him warmly. While reaching for his wife he feels a stunning blow upon the back of his neck. In reality He was swinging gently from side to side beneath the timbers of the Owl Creek Bridge dead with a broken neck. Even though Peyton Farquhar is in a dire situation, instinct is the body’s reaction to survive. In Farquhar’s case his body was bound and therefore his mind took over and imagined an escape and survival from the inevitable.

In “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”, the use of symbolism...