In his intriguing story an occurrence at owl Creek Bridge, Ambrose Bierce expound on the impact of civil war in America. Intuitively, he highlights the effect of hanging on the conscience of an individual. The law has convicted Peyton Farquhar to hanging because of his attempt to destroy a bridge.
Due to the conviction, Farquhar experiences both psychological and emotional imbalance. Therefore, through his professional and educational background as a military officer Bierce applies realism as the major writing style in his article. The next discussion not only defines realism and naturalism but also authenticates realism as the major element applied in Bierce’s story.
Realism is a form of writing style whereby the author uses his experience or observations in his/her contemporary times to compose a story, poem or any other form of literature. Most of realistic literature materials encompass actual events, genuine observations and absolute truth. For instance, in his story Bierce gives specific details of the setting of story, which is during civil war (actual) in Alabama. Furthermore, he gives a vivid description of Peyton’s death, which the soldiers accomplish by the use of ropes and rifles.
On the other hand, naturalism is an element of writing style, which lacks any form of artificiality. Alluded from the word ‘nature’ literal naturalism promotes humanity, justice, morality and lets the nature to take its course. For example, Bierce’s story lacks naturalism mainly because the death of Peyton is artificial and thus, does not occur by natural means.
Therefore, the element of realism is evident in Bierce’s story because he vividly outlines every detail of the war, military personnel and subsequent impact of defiance.
The first incidence of realism is the description of the death of Peyton. Bierce writes out every detail that entails the hanging of a criminal. According to Bierce, “The man’s hands were behind his back, the wrists bound with a cord. A rope closely encircled his neck” (Bierce 1). In addition, there was “stout cross-timber above his head and the slack feel to the level of his knees” (Bierce 1).
The ability of Bierce to give every detail and physical painting of Peyton picture before his death makes the story realistic. Secondly, the setting of the story is in 1870s the period when Americans were experiencing civil war. Moreover, as a soldier who had fought during the civil war he authenticated his observations through literal writing.
Thirdly, Bierce gives a clear picture of the soldiers by describing both their military wear and the guns especially when they are ready to accomplish their duty. Finally, before the execution of Peyton, he undergoes emotional and psychological, which leads him to have illusions (Bierce 3-4). In reality, this are the effects a person who is about to face immature death will experience. Based on the aforementioned evidences Bierce’s story falls under the classification of realism.
In conclusion, realism and naturalism are two writing styles that were common in the American literature especially during the nineteenth century. While realism focuses on genuine facts, naturalism eliminates artificial aspects by concentrating on morality and human kind.
Bierce uses the element of realism to give a clear picture of not only the impact of civil war but also to highlight the social injustices and oppression that existed during his contemporary times. Finally, through realism, the factual events of life become clear in the reader’s or the audience’s mind.
Bierce, Ambrose. An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge, n.d. Web. 8 Feb. 2012.