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Plot summary[ edit ] Peyton Farquhar, a plantation owner in his mid-thirties, is being prepared for execution by hanging from an Alabama railroad bridge during the American Civil War. Six military men and a company of infantrymen are present, guarding the bridge and carrying out the sentence.
Farquhar thinks of his wife and children and is then distracted by a noise that, to him, sounds like an unbearably loud clanging; it is actually the ticking of his watch. He considers the possibility of jumping off the bridge and swimming to safety if he can free his tied hands, but the soldiers drop him from the bridge before he can act on the idea.
An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge (film) - Wikipedia
In a flashback, Farquhar and his wife are relaxing at home one evening when a soldier rides up to the gate. Farquhar, a supporter of the Confederacy , learns from him that Union troops have seized the Owl Creek railroad bridge and repaired it.
The soldier suggests that Farquhar might be able to burn the bridge down if he can slip past its guards. He then leaves, but doubles back after nightfall to return north the way he came.
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The soldier is actually a disguised Union scout who has lured Farquhar into a trap, as any civilian caught interfering with the railroads will be hanged. He frees his hands, pulls the noose away, and surfaces to begin his escape. His senses now greatly sharpened, he dives and swims downstream to avoid rifle and cannon fire. Once he is out of range, he leaves the creek to begin the journey to his home, 30 miles away.
Farquhar walks all day long through a seemingly endless forest, and that night he begins to hallucinate, seeing strange constellations and hearing whispered voices in an unknown language. He travels on, urged by the thought of his wife and children despite the pains caused by his ordeal. The next morning, after having apparently fallen asleep while walking, he finds himself at the gate to his plantation. He rushes to embrace his wife, but before he can do so, he feels a heavy blow upon the back of his neck; there is a loud noise and a flash of white, and "then all is darkness and silence".
First occurrence prime gaps
It is revealed that Farquhar never escaped at all; he imagined the entire third part of the story during the time between falling through the bridge and the noose breaking his neck. Themes[ edit ] This short story demonstrates that there is no romance or glory in war. The title of the story contains the word "occurrence", which demonstrates how common the loss of life is within war, lessening the perceived value of those human lives.
Another theme present in the story is that of "dying with dignity". The story shows the reader that there is no mitigation for the deaths that occur in warfare, so even attempts to have men die with dignity were lacking in honor.
The final idea focused upon within the piece is the idea of psychological escape right before death. Farquhar experiences an intense delusion to distract him from his inevitable death. The moment of horror that the readers experience at the end of the piece, when they realize that he dies, reflects the distortion of reality that Farquhar encounters.
As he himself once put it, bitter Bierce detested " In retrospect we see that the title—if taken literally—from the outset provides the readers with the information that there will not be any change of scenery at all because simply an occurrence at that bridge is announced.
The entire story might well be read as a parable: We are all doomed, and whatever frantic attempts we make to gain our personal salvation—in our final moment there will be no epiphany but only its absolute opposite and negation, just "darkness and silence". Stories with similar structure[ edit ] The plot device of a long period of subjective time passing in an instant, such as the imagined experiences of Farquhar while falling, has been explored by several authors.
Notable examples of this technique from the early-to-mid 20th century include H. The Next Generation episode " The Inner Light " featured a similar plot where Captain Picard experiences an entire lifetime on an alien world in the span of a few minutes of objective time.
Movies, television, and videos[ edit ] The Spy also released as The Bridge was a silent movie adaptation of the story, directed in by Charles Vidor.
A TV version of the story starring British actor Ronald Howard was telecast in during the fifth season of the Alfred Hitchcock Presents television anthology series. It won the award for best short subject at the Cannes film festival and won an Oscar at the Academy Awards for best live-action short. The DVD also contains an extended version of the story with more background and detail than the one included in the trilogy.
The story was adapted to follow the last days of Khalid, a young boy who is caught by a gang of racist youths.
The same script was used with Price again starring on Suspense on March 3, The film Brazil has a similar final act. The heavy metal band Deceased retold the tale in the song "The Hanging Soldier" on its album Supernatural Addiction.
The film The Descent from has a similar final act. The Spike Lee film 25th Hour engages in an extended version of this idea as Monty is being taken to prison by his dad.
Adam Young has said that this story was the inspiration for the name of his electronica musical project, Owl City. In Scrubs , the episode "My Occurrence" has a similar plot structure, where the main character J.