An Occurance At Owl Creek Bridge Essay

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An Occurance At Owl Creek Bridge Essay, Research Paper An Occurance at Owl Creek Bridge People can easily recognize that a butterfly, a horse, or a tree are alive and that a bike, a computer, and a lamp are not. People call a thing living if it is capable of performing certain activities, such as growth or reproduction. Biologists, however, have a hard time defining life. They have difficulty locating the dividing line between living and nonliving things. All scientist do agree however that one characteristic of all living things is the will to live that they all possess. Without this will living organisms would not be able to flourish as they most certainly do. Ambrose Bierce?s short story "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" is a perfect example of the power of the

will to live. It is the story of a man who is sentenced to death by asphyxiation. He thinks to himself "If I could free my hands, I might throw off my noose and spring into the stream…By diving I could evade the bullets and swimming vigorously, reach the bank." This is surely the talk of a man who has the will to live. Up until the last nanoseconds of his execution, he imagines an elaborate escape in which he manages to reach his home and family. Peyton Farquhar is a southern gentleman, "..of a highly respected Alabama family," in the times of the civil war. "His features were good, a straight nosed, firm mouthed, broad forehead from which his long dark hair was combed straight back, falling behind his ears to the collar of his well-fitting frock

coat." Due to circumstances not described in the story, Peyton was not able to join his beloved state to fight for the "southern cause." Because of this he wanted to do all that he could to fulfill his part. When he heard of the opportunity to destroy a bridge that was needed by the federal army, he jumped at the chance. He was not sorry for what he attempted to do when he got caught. He supposed that he "…a civilian and student of hanging [might] evade the picket post and perhaps get the better of the sentinel." He was however disappointed that due to his capture he would never again see his family. Peyton Farquhar loved his wife and children. In his last moments on this earth Farquhar "…closed his eyes in order to fix his last thoughts upon his

wife and children." Being a plantation owner affected Farquhar?s politics. He needed to look after his land for the sake of his family name and his children. "Being a slave owner and like other slave owners, a politician, he was naturally an original secessionist and ardently devoted to the southern cause." Because of his devotion to the southern cause he was easily foiled by a Union Spy. Farquhar was tricked into attempting to blow up the bridge. The Federal Spy, dressed as a confederate soldier told Farquhar that "…there is a lot of driftwood against the wooden pier at this end of the bridge. It is dry and would burn like tow…The Yanks are repairing the railroads and are preparing for another advance." This got Peyton Farquhar thinking that he could

become a hero. And if he failed he would be a martyr to the southern cause. After Farquhar?s conversation, the man with whom he was conversing headed north. After Farquhar was captured by the Federal soldiers, he was dragged onto the bridge and a noose tied around his neck. In the moments before his death he imagined that he escaped. We don?t know how long that he waited there for his execution, but is time a measurable entity as scientists would have us believe, or is it a human construct - and a subjective one at that? In this unknown expanse of time Peyton "… closed his eyes in order to fix his last thoughts upon his wife and children." When he shut his eyes Farquhar felt he was in "..full possession of his physical senses. They were, indeed, preternaturally