Where the Wild Things Are

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"He had not known that he lived in so wild a region."
-pg. 322

In Ambrose Bierce's "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge," we are taken along during the literal last moment of a man's life. Peyton Farquar, a "well-to-do planter, of an old and highly respected Alabama family (319)," was accused of sabotaging a bridge that prevented troops from moving onward on their journey.

This story was very moving. As Roberts suggests in his essay about this short story, "The escape, which forms the narrative of the third section, seems to be happening plausibly and realistically in just the way that the reader, naturally sympathetic to Farquar, wants it to happen. The power of the story results from his tension between desire and actuality (90)." This was the case for me; I had read this story before, but I still found myself rooting for Farquar as he makes his fast-paced escape from death (or so he thinks).

As for the quotation above, I found it to have a double meaning. An omniscient narrator states this tiny revelation for the reader to chew on just as Farquar's conscience is beginning to dwindle For anyone who did not forsee the shocking ending, it may be presumed that the stressful situation of almost DYING may take considerable toll on the poor man's body. That short period of time in which his senses were all "preternaturally keen and alert (320)" was swiftly coming to an end, and he begins to walk in a dream-like state. It is stated that "he had not known that he lived in so wild a region (322)."

Throughout the story, the reader is given evidence that Ambrose Bierce believes that war is unfair. For instance, on page 318, the narrator says of Farquar "Evidently this was no vulgar assassin. The liberal military code makes provision for hanving many kinds of person, and gentlemen are not excluded." This type of "we kill all" mentality is only further emphasized when we are introduced to the "wild region" in which Farquar did not know he lived. Of course, this could be referring to the literal trees and grasses, the wilderness that Farquar walks through in the final moments of his final moment. I, however, took this differently.

This statement brought to mind Hardy's "The Man He Killed," a poem in which the reader is introduced to "the senselessness of war (61)." We cannot quite understand exactly why Farquar is being hung (for blocking a bridge? That's dumb...), just like we can't understand why the narrator of the poem shot a man who could have been his friend. I did realize, though, that the wildness of Farquar's home could be due to the wildness of the people in it. Could Farquar be referring to the savagery of the people who tried to kill him?


Cody Naylor said:

Sorry, I stole your point about the author's message about the senselessness of war, but only because I whole-heartedly agree! I also agree with you that the story was very moving. I think that the vivid descriptions provided by the author really drew me in which I love because that doesn't happen for me often.

JessicaOrlowski Author Profile Page said:

It's not stealing... I simply... reminded you of what you already knew.

I, indeed, loved this story SO much. It was suspenseful. Even though I knew what was going to happen, I still couldn't help but feel bad for Farquar (I HATE that name).

Melissa Schwenk said:

Interesting perspective. Maybe the wild does relate to the wildness of the people. Nice connection also since we have no real idea why either people have to be killed or what the motives behind them are.

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Melissa Schwenk on Where the Wild Things Are: Interesting perspective. Maybe
JessicaOrlowski on Where the Wild Things Are: It's not stealing... I simply.
Cody Naylor on Where the Wild Things Are: Sorry, I stole your point abou