LightReads Challenge #2: An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge

2 months ago

A challenge to encourage reading on the blockchain.

Reading material is a story titled, "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" by Ambrose Bierce

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INTRODUCTION

Wherever you are, whatever your interests, it doesn't hurt to read at all. This is a short story but entails a lot. Really love the twist at the end and I urge everyone to try and read this story. The author gives a vivid picture of a farmer who is to be hanged for a crime. The noose breaks and Farquhar, the farmer, falls from the bridge. He manages to swim to safety and walk home to his wife. The end is really sad after I was happy for the turn of events. Very unfortunate for him.

ANSWERS TO THOUGHT PROVOKING QUESTIONS

Ambrose Bierce was one of the only major author to see combat during the Civil War. He served in the Ninth Regiment, Indiana Volunteers. What evidence can you provide that "he knows what he is talking about" in his telling of the story? Do you detect any bias in his writing, does his favor the Union over the Confederates, or is he seemingly impartial?

  • I certainly don't think Bierce was partial in his writing. He seemed fair to me and didn't support any of the parties. He seemed to know about what he was talking about by the military terms he uses. Knowing a "support" position where the sentinels had their rifles vertically in front of their left shoulder. By mentioning a code of military etiquette, Ambrose showed he had some military knowledge.

How does Bierce's methodic writing style of providing detailed descriptions in a quiet, slow, suspenseful manner affect the reader? Provide examples (like how he describes the rifles in "support" position, or the sound of his own watch ticking).

  • Generally, we hardly notice the sounds from or watches when it ticks. There must be some degree of silence and even idleness for one to notice the ticking sound of a watch. A watch must often be close to your ears before you hear the sounds, so the fact that the man doomed for hanging could hear shows how silent everything was. For the sound to hurt his ear meant his ears were sharp and the sound was deafening to him. He was probably agitated and every minute thing put him on edge.

The Federal troops were required to comply with the Liber Code, instructions for armies in the field, imposed by President Lincoln in 1863. Discuss the soldiers' conduct described in the story. Did they follow the letter of the Lieber Code?

  • Farquhar was technically a prisoner of war and he was forbidden to be killed. They hanged him and yet, we don't know for sure that he burnt the bridge. An attempt to burn the bridge qualifies as a crime, but to be hanged seems a bit harsh. They were dignified in the way and manner they carried the execution, so they followed the code to some extent. They could have done more, but in the end, all is fair in love and war.

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