4Ambrose Bierce Born in Ohio in 1842 Parents were poor but literary coupleThe 10th of 13 childrenAll kids’ names began with an “A”: Abigail, Amelia, Ann, Addison, Aurelius, Augustus, Almeda, Andrew, Albert, Ambrose, Arthur, Adelia, and Aurelia
5Ambrose BierceEnlisted in the Union Army’s 9th Indiana Infantry Regiment.Received newspaper attention for his daring rescue, under fire, of a gravely wounded comrade at the Battle of Rich MountainSustained a serious head wound at the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain
6Ambrose Bierce1913, bored, he sets off for Mexico to report on or join in its revolution.“Goodbye,” he wrote, “If you hear of my being stood up against a Mexican stone wall and shot to rags, please know that I think it a pretty good way to depart this life. It beats old age, disease, or falling down the cellar stairs.”No further word was ever heard from him.
8SettingThe action takes place at a railroad bridge in northern Alabama during the U.S. Civil War, not long after the Battle of Corinth in northern MississippiOctober 3 and 4, 1862.
9Time of DayBegins early in the morning, as disclosed by the boldfaced words in the following passage inPart I[Peyton Farquhar] closed his eyes in order to fix his last thoughts upon his wife and children. The water, touched to gold by the early sun, the brooding mists under the banks at some distance down the stream, the fort, the soldiers, the piece of drift–all had distracted him. Ends in the evening of the same day.
10First Three Sentences: “A man stood upon a railroad bridge in northern Alabama, looking down into the swift water twenty feet below. The man’s hands were behind his back, the wrists bound with a cord. A rope closely encircled his neck.”
11CharactersPeyton Farquhar: Southern plantation owner who is to be hanged by Union soldiers as punishment for his attempt (or suspected attempt) to destroy Owl Creek Bridge. Mrs. Farquhar: Farquhar's wife. Union Soldiers: They include executioners, sentinels, and overseeing officers on the bridge Union Scout: Soldier who wears Confederate gray when he rides onto Farquhar's plantation (in a flashback) and asks for a drink of water.
13Battle of Shiloh (Near Owl Creek) April 6-7On the first day of the battle, the Confederates struck with the intention of driving the Union defenders away from the river and into the swamps of Owl Creek to the west, hoping to defeat Grant's Army of the Tennessee before reinforcements showed up.
14The Confederate battle lines became confused during the fierce fighting, and Grant's men instead fell back to the northeast, in the direction of Pittsburg Landing. A position on a slightly sunken road, nicknamed the "Hornet's Nest", defended by Union men and artillery.
15Reinforcements arrived in the evening and turned the tide the next morning, when the Union commanders launched a counterattack along the entire line.The Confederates were forced to retreat, ending their hopes that they could block the Union advance into northern Mississippi.
16JournalIn a well-organized essay, explain the nature and relative importance of two or three means by which you keep track of time and discuss what these means reveal about the kind of person you are.(You are not limited to familiar time-keeping devices; you may consider recurring events, “inner clocks,” or other means.)
17SoundtrackListen to the following music and imagine where it might be placed in a movie soundtrack for “Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge.”Where is Farquhar? What is he doing? What are the Union soldiers perhaps doing?
18Questions Do you sympathize with Farquhar? Explain your answer. Did the Union forces have a right to hang Farquhar without first trying him in a court of law?How should civilians who participate in war be treated? Like civilians? Like soldiers?
19QuestionsDo you believe Bierce’s story deserve the consideration to be a classic? Explain.
20Questions What methods does Bierce use to build suspense? Explain Bierce’s views of war and the military. How does he feel about it? Support your response with examples from the text.
21QuestionsIs Ambrose Bierce biased toward one side of the Civil War? Does the narrator describe the Union soldiers more positively than Farquhar, or vice versa?
22QuestionsIf you knew you were about to die, what would you think about? Would it be similar to Farquhar’s?
23QuestionsIf you were one of the Union soldiers, how would you deal with the capital punishment about to be committed on Peyton Farquar?
24Your OpinionFarquhar deserves to be executed since he disobeyed a rule and attempted to burn down a bridge.
25Your OpinionFarquhar’s sentence is too harsh. He doesn’t deserve to die as punishment for trying to burn down a bridge, especially because he is a civilian and not a soldier.
26Your OpinionWar is an inescapable force that destroys everything in its path.
27Your OpinionIf you were to rewrite the story from the perspective of one of the soldiers, what would it be like? How would one of the soldiers experience reality in the moments before and after Farquhar is hanged?
28QuestionsDid the ending surprise you? Why or why not?
29Questions How long does it take for Farquhar to die? Why does the verb tense change from past tense to present tense in the second to last paragraph?
30Peyton Farquhar- A. is tricked by a scout for the opposition B. betrays his own people for moneyC. turns his back on his wife and childrenD. lives a long and prosperous life
31Early in the story, what interrupts Farquhar's thoughts about his wife and children? A. A train heading toward the bridgeB. A hail of bulletsC. the arrival of more troopsD. The ticking of his watch
32After the board is kicked out from under him, Farquhar experiences- A. an intense sharpening of his sensesB. despair and griefC. a surprising burst of happinessD. relief that he is going to live
33After Farquhar appears to have escaped from the gunfire while in the river, he- A. is too exhausted to swimB. is kicked up by a passing riverboatC. is recaptured and shot at onceD. lands on a bank and runs through the woods
34How much actual time passes in the story? A. A few minutesB. A few hoursC. One dayD. A day and a night
35In part, the flashbacks in this story best illustrate- A. the importance of staying true to one's valuesB. how all reality is an illusionC. the price Confederates pay for being traitorsD. our deep attachment to lifeE. Farquhar's love of his plantation and the Confederacy's values
36When Farquhar hears his watch ticking with an exaggerated intensity, Bierce is using the point of view known as-A. 2nd person limitedB. 1st personC. ObjectiveD. 3rd person limitedE. 2nd person objective