Go Gentleman! Go...Conferedate?

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I was torn when I found out he was for the confederate side. Do I root for this man to live and hate the soldiers for their despicable act of hanging him? Or do I hate the man for his postition on slavery?

I am against the death penalty for anyone so that turmoil got settled pretty quickly. It was interesting that they set it up that way though. Making the reader feel pity for him, then realizing he is on the Confed side. I assume this was the case unless this is my take on it and the writer was really on the Confed side presenting him as a hero.

My opinion really didn't matter here anyway because in the end the man dies, though he escapes in his mind. I had a feeling this happened as Bierce describes the "gleam of light" growing distant and then suddenly not so distant and very bright (320). Doesn't this man know? Don't go towards the light!



Melissa Schwenk said:

Aja, I hadn't thought about the sympathy that the writer tried to use on the reader. I didn't really feel one way or the other towards the man, but I see where it could be tricky for the reader to figure out whether or not to root for Farquhar.

And like you said, it didn't really matter one way or the other. Perhaps, it was something the writer intended to do to confuse the reader?

Josie Rush said:

I'm not sure how prominently the man's loyalties are to the story. Like you said, Aja, I don't know how Bierce felt about slavery, and it wasn't as though he was writing today, when most everyone in society would agree that slavery isn't right. But I do think that the author tries to stir some sympathy up for Farquhar. Despite his political taste, the guy was brave, and bravery is a quality everyone admires.

Jessie Krehlik said:

My thoughts exactly, Aja. I really think that readers would have lacked any empathy or sympathy for Farquhar had the author came right out and declared him to be a Confederate. By giving the readers time to almost get to know him, the author almost forces readers to identify with the poor, normal man whose only wish at the end of his life is to see his wife and children one more time. I can honestly say that if he had been introduced at the start of the story as a confederate (soldier or not), I would have been anticipating his death a lot more than I actually did. In fact, I think that had I known this background knowledge, the ending would not have thrown me off as much as it actually did.

That's exactly as I felt, too. At first I felt badly for Farquhar since he was described as a smiling man, one who seemed out of place in the noose, and thought only of his wife and kids before he died. When I learned he was a slave owner and a Confederate supporter, I became completely confused and couldn't decide what I should think. However, I think the way Bierce uses the third person limited point of view for the third part of the story helps the reader connect with Farquhar, and feel empathy for him. He's a flawed human, absolutely, but he was raised as a white man in the South during the time of slavery. No, it wasn't right at all for him to enslave human beings, but that's what was expected then. I suppose that's a twisted argument, because anyone could use that excuse to say something like "oh, he's a murderer because he was raised that way." I just mean that while he supported some things - some major things - that made me completely disrespect him, I still pitied him.

I also wanted to say that if Bierce had used another point of view, or even used third person limited on a different character, I would not have felt the same confusion over my feelings for Farquhar. I would have thought he deserved his death, without even considering the fact that he has a family, or that we don't know if he actually supports slavery or not. It says he has slaves, but why was he not in the Confederate army? Bierce never specifies. I would never wonder what his true intentions were if part of the story wasn't written in the third person limited point of view.

Carissa Altizer said:

We can all agree that slavery is wrong, but you must remember that just because he worked for the Confederate side does not mean that he was an evil man. The Civil War began as a war between the states before the moral question of slavery was ever brought into the picture. He was loyal to his homeland and he loved his wife and children. Throughout the Civil War, there were good and honest men fighting on both sides for different reasons. Farquhar had my sympathy the entire way.

Aja Hannah said:

I'm not saying that because he was a Confed he deserved to die or any less sympathy. I was just caught off guard that the "hero" was of the opposite side than is traditional and I wondered why the author wrote it this way. If there way any signifigance to his choice of sides or that it wasn't told to the reader at first, I wanted to ponder it.

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