An Occurrence at Owl Creek

By Ambrose Bierce

Major Conflict

In the story of An Occurrence at Owl Creek, the major conflict is that Peyton Farquhar is being hung for a crime he committed. But when he is finally dropped to his supposed death, the rope breaks and he is dropped in the water below the bridge. Peyton has to fight for his life (literally) with the only motivation to keep going being his loving wife and children at home. This conflict is an external conflict in my mind because the conflict is mainly between Farquhar and the Union soldiers trying to kill him from trying to burn down their bridge. This major conflict not only really matters to Peyton Farquhar because his life is on the line but also because he happens to have a family back at his home who he cares very much about and wants more than anything to get back to his family and he obviously can't do that if he is hung or shot down by soldiers.

Main Character: Peyton Farquhar

Peyton Farquhar is many things but the firsts thing I think of are intelligent, quick-thinking, and loving. They show these things almost only by indirect characterization. They show that he is intelligent by showing that he knows a lot about the kind of things the soldiers are going to do when they are shooting at him. This intelligence helps him also be quick-thinking because he knew what the soldiers were going to do next and so he could think up a way to get out of the situation quickly and safely. He is very loving as well because of the way he was thinking about his family the whole entire time. The only reason why he could keep pushing on was because he has his loving family waiting for him and he couldn't help but be loving about that. That is how Peyton Farquhar is as a main character and his characterization really enhanced the story.

Plot Line Overview

Exposition: The story starts with Peyton Farquhar waiting to be hung by the North side of the civil war. This consists mostly of the author really explaining the situation and the character and the setting and basically setting the stage for what is about to happen.


Rising Action: The events leading up to the climax (that happens to be the last event of the book) consist of Peyton Farquhar running away from the Union soldiers after he escapes out of his situation by the miracle of the rope snapping. He has to swim through the Owl Creek while dodging bullets and then has to run through the forest all to get to his house to see his wife and children.


Climax: The story ends with the climax and also with a shocking plot twist of Peyton Farquhar actually turning out to be dead the whole time and him swinging on the unbroken rope under the Owl Creek bridge.

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Theme

I think the theme of this story is to never give up. Through out the whole story, the main character never stopped trying to survive to the very best of his ability by just giving up and saying he couldn't go on. In the beginning he was tied up to the noose about to be hung and he was still trying to figure out a way to get to his family no matter what it took and that really shows everyone how important it is to try and try and not give up on what you want. He went swimming down the river with a noose around his neck and he didn't even give up then. He ran through the forest all the way to the long path just for his family and all that hard work paid off because he (technically) got to see his family again.

Figurative Language

Figurative language is language that uses words or expressions with a meaning that is different from the literal interpretation. The author uses many different examples of figurative language in this story such as similes, metaphors, imagery, etc. These are used to really enhance the writing style so that the story comes to life in the readers minds. Another way they are used is to set the mood of a story. In this the author decided to compare the noose falling through the water with a water snake. This comparison really gave that mood of something evil and bad because when people think about snakes they don't generally think good happy thoughts. Finally the author uses them to help understand the reading material more because the more detailed you are about the general idea of the story the more likely the reader will understand what the story is trying to say.

Final Remarks

An Occurrence at Owl Creek is an amazing story about love, death, family and a touch of history. I would recommend this story to everyone who loves a suspenseful, heartfelt, story that touches of every thing we as human beings can relate to to make this story as real as possible. This story is very interesting because of the actual topic in the story but also the way the author writes. The author includes details about the main character that makes it seem like Peyton Farquhar is a real man who has a real family and is actually about to die right in front of our eyes. The words make you be able to have an emotional connection with this character that you wouldn't have without the simple elegance yet sadness of the words written. This story makes me think a lot about death and how real it is and can be for some people. Death can come at any moment and with the plot twist at the end it makes me kind of wonder, will that happen to me? Will I end of dying somehow but then think I didn't die and just keep pushing through because of a want I have, like seeing my family one last time? It is a scary and yet kind of amazing thought that that could happen to me or did happen to someone else. Another thing is that it makes me think about my own family. Peyton Farquhar went through so much with just the very thoughts of seeing his family again guiding him. I have an amazing family and his strength and struggle through that all really made me think about how I would probably do exactly what Peyton did just to see my family one last time. I never really officially thought about that and it was really amazing to have a story bring these thoughts about life, death, and family come into my mind just from the words on a page.