An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge
By Ambrose Bierce
However, while this is indeed the main conflict, I would be remiss if I did not mention the internal conflict Farquhar has within himself as well. Much of the text focuses on him hypothetically attempting to escape death and reach his home. This is evident of the fact that Farquhar is battling to escape his current situation in any way possible.
Rising Action: Farquhar is dropped into the water with the noose around his neck. He escapes from the rope, swims to safety to a nearby bank, and begins traveling back home to his safe-haven with his family. "As he rose to the surface, gasping for breath, he saw that he had been a long time under water; he was perceptibly farther downstream–nearer to safety" (18).
Climax: After a strenuous journey, the story explains that Farquhar finally reaches the entrance of his estate; he is home, and about to embrace his wife. However, quite abruptly, the author explains that Farquhar is not home at all. He has been dropped from the Owl Creek Bridge, his neck snapped and him swinging back and forth; he is dead. "Peyton Farquhar was dead; his body, with a broken neck swung gently from side to side" (21). This is the climax because Farquhar had lived through all events progressing towards this point with the aspiration of reaching his family.
Falling Action: There is no falling action to this story, no area for the reader to reflect on what has happened. The text is leading up to Farquhar's hopeful and emotional arrival back home, and when he does not reach this, the story goes no further. There is an unexpected plot twist in which Farquhar's neck is snapped, and the story goes no further.
Resolution: There is no resolution to this story. Farquhar dies suddenly and unexpectedly, leaving the reader to contemplate this unforeseen plot twist.
Dreams vs. Reality
This theoretical, complex, and philosophical idea is what makes An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge worth reading. Can anybody fully understand this idea of dreams, or dreams taking over reality? Can anyone likely give a straight, all-encompassing answer? No, of course not! If it was a simple idea, it may not even be worth reading, but it is the complexity and perplexity of this question which makes it worth our attention.