Time is defined by “ a nonspatial continuum in which events occur in seemingly irreversible sequence. ” ( TheFreeDictionary.com ) This deformation of the uninterrupted forward gesture of clip disrupts the perceptual experience of world. When the reader can no longer separate existent world from a sensed world, other character judgements come into inquiry as good. The break of clip allows the sequence of events in “ An Happening at Owl Creek Bridge ” to be presented in a mode that forces the reader to oppugn any premises made about Peyton Farquhar ‘s true character. By taking the reader through the head of Peyton Farquhar during the minutes prior to his decease, his marvelous flight, and his sudden catch back into the present, the reader is left inquiring about the true nature of clip and the consequence it has on the consciousness of world.
The narrative begins with a 3rd individual narrative. “ A adult male stood upon a railway span in northern Alabama, looking down into the fleet H2O 20 feel below. ” ( Bierce, p. 71 ) The storyteller provides a cold, nonsubjective position of the initial state of affairs. The deficiency of subjective emotional description by the storyteller allows the reader to detect a distressing state of affairs without going emotional attached to the character. “ Death is a very important person who when he comes announced is to be received with formal manifestations of regard, even by those most familiar with him. ” ( Bierce, p. 74 ) The subjectiveness of emotion is removed and factual premises begin to originate. The reader can surmise the storyteller is merely relaying a factual relation of an event. By showing the narrative with this type of narrative, Ambrose Bierce has given the reader a solid perceptual experience of world.
The storyteller ‘s description of every touchable item to the narrative sets a specific clip period for the events that take topographic point. The reader can easy separate a historical clip line for the narrative. “ Bing a slave proprietor and like other slave proprietors a politician he was of course an original secessionist and ardently devoted to the Southern cause. ” ( Bierce p. 72 ) The narrative is set in the South, during the Civil War. Ambrose Bierce uses a specific clip period as a method of developing the reader ‘s perceptual experience, of non merely the state of affairs, but of the character of Peyton Farquhar himself. By labeling Peyton Farquhar as a “ slave proprietor ” ( Bierce p. 72 ) , “ politician ” ( Bierce p. 72 ) , and “ original secessionist ” ( Bierce p. 72 ) , the reader may get down to sympathize with the grounds for Peyton Farquhar ‘s state of affairs. The reader can easy believe that by being “ devoted to the Southern cause ” ( Bierce p 73 ) during the Civil War, “ the adult male who [ is ] engaged in being hanged ” ( Bierce p. 74 ) is justifiably in the state of affairs. The descriptive linguistic communication used to depict Peyton Farquhar during this specified minute in history, elicit strong emotions in the reader. Ambrose Bierce easy manipulates the reader ‘s perceptual experience of Peyton Farquhar while solidifying the world of the narrative.
Ambrose Bierce continuously foreshadows the break of clip and Peyton Farquhar ‘s approaching decease. The minutes taking up to his hanging, Peyton ‘s world begins to go deformed. “ He became witting of a new perturbation. ” ( Bierce p 74 ) “ A sound which he could neither disregard nor understand, a crisp, distinguishable, metallic percussion like the shot of a blacksmith ‘s cock upon the anvil. ” ( Bierce p 75 ) . What should be an irrelevant background noise all of a sudden becomes highly important and loud. Ambrose Bierce clearly expresses merely how important the few minutes before decease become. “ More significantly for Bierce ‘s intents, though, is that “ clip ” itself, when employed to graduate human experience, seems to go indeterminate at points of maximal emotional perturbation. ” ( Stoicheff ) Peyton Farquhar merely hears “ the ticking of his ticker. ” ( Bierce p 75 ) This distinguishable mention to clip gives the reader a minute to chew over merely how many ticks of Peyton ‘s ticker really occur during the approaching sequence. As “ the noose tightens around his cervix, and he is “ as one already dead ” ( Bierce p 75 ) “ from this province he [ is ] awakened – ages subsequently. ” ( Bierce p 75 )
Death is a world each and every person must finally accept. Having to confront decease in such a barbarous mode leaves Peyton Farquhar reminiscent of his married woman and place. “ He closed his eyes in order to repair his last ideas upon his married woman and kids. ” ( Bierce p 76 ) Although unlikely, the ideas of flight Begin to overcast Peyton ‘s head. “ ‘If I could liberate my custodies, ‘ he thought, ‘I might throw off the snare and spring into the watercourse. ‘ ” ( Bierce p 76 ) Until this point in the narrative, Ambrose Bierce ‘s narrative has maintained a firm objectiveness. In the 3rd and most noteworthy subdivision of “ An Happening at Owl Creek Bridge ” , when “ the sergeant stepped aside ” and the board is released from beneath Peyton Farquhar, the narrative becomes much more emotion-laden. The reader begins to see the hurting and panic that must come from confronting decease in such a mode. Although the events of his flight are phantasmagoric and unlikely, because time-flow is usually irreversible, the reader is continuously pushed frontward into believing Peyton has really survived his flight. Therefore, leting clip to go on uninterrupted, yet more subjective.
The reader is eventually given little penetration into the ideas and emotions of Peyton Farquhar. The internal ideas and frights of a adult male merely minutes from his decease can be formidable and terrorizing. However, the reader about cheers for Peyton Farquhar to get away unhurt. The storyteller continues the nonsubjective description of even such a traumatic scene. “ It seemed to him — by the hurting of a crisp force per unit area upon his pharynx, followed by a sense of asphyxiation. ( Bierce p 75 ) With each passing minute, with each elaborate description of the hurting Peyton Farquhar must digest to accomplish his flight, clip seems to decelerate down. As in any epinephrine filled minute, clip becomes somewhat distorted, nevertheless Bierce once more uses descriptions to what can merely be a method of stretching a individual minute. “ As [ Peyton Farquhar ] rose to the surface, panting for breath, he saw that he had been a long clip under H2O. ” ( Bierce p 75 ) “ Farquhar ‘s ordeal describe [ s ] the esthesiss of an dog-tired escaper as those of a hanged and deceasing adult male. ” ( Palmer p363 ) Reality becomes farther muddled in the reader ‘s head.
Initially the reader was left with many premises about the character of Peyton Farquhar. The factual descriptions given allowed the reader to sympathise with Farquhar ‘s capturers. However, in the 2nd subdivision of “ An Happening at Owl Creek Bridge ” , the reader is given the chance to see the events unfold. It becomes evident that although a “ secessionist, ” ( Bierce p74 ) Farquhar was entrapped into the events that unfolded by a brotherhood soldier. The reader can than get down to sympathise with the character. Ambrose Bierce uses this chance to and capture into the surrealist dream sequence to “ develop character more to the full ” ( Walz p262-265 ) The Truth the reader has come to accept Begins to unknot and all of a sudden becomes questionable. The deformation of clip and perceptual experience Begin to falsify the consciousness of world for the reader. Ambrose Bierce shows that clip can be manipulated and elongated significantly by “ extremely emotional events. ” ( Stoicheff ) The storyteller ‘s description of the a individual insignificant sound and how it comes the most abundant idea before decease should do the reader inquiry the subjectiveness of non lone clip, but world and truth every bit good.
The reader ‘s ability to sympathise with the character through a deformation of clip and to get down to oppugn the nature and subjectiveness of clip make evident how comparative truth is. In “ An Happening at Owl Creek Bridge ” , world is capable to clip, emotions, and the reader premises. Each single facet effects world significantly. Ambrose Bierce reiterates the fact that clip, world, and truths are all created in the reader ‘s head. If the reader ‘s perceptual experience creates each facet and the reader ‘s perceptual experience can be easy manipulated, so it stands to ground that each facet can so be manipulated every bit good. However, although clip is nature to subjective perceptual experiences, Ambrose Bierce makes it obvious that it can non be escaped. In the terminal, “ all is darkness and silence! ” ( Bierce p75 ) “ Peyton Farquhar was dead ; his organic structure, with a broken cervix, swung gently from side to side beneath the lumbers of the Owl Creek span. ” ( Bierce p76 )