In Ambrose Bierce’s short story, ‘An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,’ he uses his setting to carry out the plot of the story better than the short film of ‘An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge. ’ The words in the short story flow so beautifully, and give such detail as to fully understand the emotions running through Peyton Farquhar’s head as the time progresses to his hanging. In my opinion, the story’s graphic settings and imagery easily grasp the introduction rising action/climax, and conclusion as Ambrose Bierce originally wanted the story to be told.
In the introduction of the short story, Bierce tells of a man, soon to be known as Farquhar, standing above a bridge engaged to be hung. As he is waiting for the lieutenant to complete preparations, he lays eyes upon a piece of drift wood in the swirling stream below the bridge. The story then goes into detail about how slowly the stream appeared to be moving the drift wood along, “He then let his gaze wander to the swirling water of the stream racing madly beneath his feet.
A piece of dancing driftwood caught his attention and his eyes followed the current.
How slowly it appeared to move! What a sluggish stream! (Literature 71). ” However, in the short film it only represents the image of the piece of wood. This driftwood symbolizes the situation he is currently in; that he is in a chaotic predicament but is still able to ‘slowly drift’ through the problem. Therefore the story helps the reader fully grasp the introduction of the story better than the short film. During the middle of the story, before Farquhar’s last moments he thinks about his wife and children only to be interrupted by the sound of his pocket watch.
As if time were slowing down in his last seconds, the interval between each tick is symbolic to how little time he has left. “Striking through the thought of his dear ones was the sound which he could neither ignore nor understand, a sharp, distinct, metallic percussion like the stroke of a blacksmith’s hammer upon the anvil.. the delays became maddening (Literature 72). ” In the short film of ‘An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,’ time speeds up and his pocket watch was taken from him by one of the officers, clearly not as in dept to relate why Bierce wrote the pocket watch into the story.
Also during the rising action of the written story, it is told in great details of how he plunges into the water, and begins to swim through the stream. When he removes the noose from his neck, he sees himself performing but doesn’t follow through. He commands himself to place the cord back once he feels a sudden pang throughout his body, but his hands disobey him. This gives the reader inside details of the characters internal state, which is not expressed in the short film.
Lastly, before it is known that Farquhar has been hung and this was his mind flashing through his last moments of life, the soldiers begin firing guns while he swims to safety downstream. At one point the written story tells of how he is spinning and whirled around in the water; which brings us back to the symbolism of the driftwood in the introduction. He spins round and round like the driftwood, finally caught up and not in control of the predicament he is in. “He had been caught in a vortex and was being whirled on with a velocity of advance.. spinning like a top (Literature 75).
The film does not show the final symbolism of the driftwood and rushes through the stream to only have Farquhar advance to the bank and run through the forest to his wife and children. Therefore, in my opinion, Bierce’s written version of ‘An Occurrence at Owl Creek,’ uses the setting to advance the story and plot to the readers. It is more in dept and brings all things to light: internal state, physical state, symbolism, and his flashbacks. The introduction, rising action, and conclusion were all better carried out with setting in the written version rather the short film.