Tick. Tock.. Tick... Tock....Tick..... Tock...... Tick........

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After reading "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" I could not help but realize the significance of time in the short story. Obviously, Bierce overly describes the scene's sounds, imagery, and pain, but he also almost indistinctly describes the pacing of time. Us living can only imagine the feelings one would experience before a hanging. Would we keep our eyes open to observe our surroundings or keep them shut to see our loved ones faces one last time? Would we say a prayer? Speak aloud? Curse our enemies? Cry? Scream? Plan an escape?... Remember the common phrase time flies when you're having fun. The hours before a speech or a difficult test usually seem to drag on and on because we are anxious, nervous, and scared; therefore, would not death also seem long and dragged out?

            Bierce's lengthy descriptions add time to the hanging. As we wait to see whether Farquhar will live or die, Bierce is describing the soldiers' hand and gun positions. Likewise, just as we think the story should end at "...the captain nodded to the sergeant. The sergeant stepped aside" (318), Bierce walks us through a flash back of Farquhar's life. Once again his death is put off and we as readers become more and more anxious to see whether or not he will die. As Bierce returns us to the present, we are once again overwhelmed with descriptions. Whether Farquhar is dead already or merely lost in a subconscious black out, the essence of time is prolonged. Farquhar seems to have almost spider man like senses as he hears the rush of a fish's "body parting the water" (320) and "the humming of the gnats" (320). Usually an action scene is described in a fast paced manner to parallel the reality of how fast an action scene would occur, which is a sign that Farquhar is not actually escaping. It is no coincidence that as Farquhar waits to be hung "the intervals of silence grew progressively longer; the delays became maddening...What he heard was the ticking of his watch" (318). During Farquhar's dreamlike travel he seems to have walked all night, which tricks the reader into believing he must be escaping for this to go on for so long. However, a dream has no sense of time and we are quickly taken back to reality as we discover Farquhar is still at the bridge, only now he is dead.

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