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An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge

Ambrose Bierce

Character List

Plot Overview

Analysis of Major Characters

Peyton Farquhar -  A thirty-five-year-old Southern planter. A prosperous land- and slave-owner from an esteemed Alabama family, Farquhar is a civilian and an ardent supporter of the Confederacy. He assumes a kind expression at his execution, despite the grimness of his situation. Well-dressed, with large gray eyes and a pointed beard, he cuts a striking figure on the side of the bridge, a gentleman about to face a less-than-noble end.

Read an in-depth analysis of Peyton Farquhar.

Farquhar’s Wife -  A dutiful woman who serves as an emblem of the comfort and domestic security Farquhar seeks. Yet Farquhar’s wife also represents the domain that Farquhar rejects in setting off on his reckless mission to cripple the North’s campaign. His affluence and bliss at home are not enough; he is desperate to justify his existence and make his name in other ways. Still, it is her image and thoughts of his children that he returns to at his moment of greatest desperation.

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The Northern Scout -  A man disguised as a Confederate soldier. The Northern scout plants the seeds for Farquhar’s sabotage and sets the disastrous course of events into action. His dual identity, which has him allied with the North but pretending otherwise, mirrors the gap between fiction and reality that serves as one of the story’s main preoccupations.
The Sergeant -  A Confederate officer. The sergeant conducts himself with the bearing of someone who may have been a deputy sheriff in civilian life. An all-but-invisible presence in the story, he is overly indulgent of the importance of his post and ceremonious nature of the execution.

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