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1. As these thoughts, which have here to be set down in words, were flashed into the doomed man’s brain rather than evolved from it the captain nodded to the sergeant. The sergeant stepped aside.
This quotation appears at the end of the first section of the story, immediately before Farquhar plunges to his death, and marks an important turning point. The execution itself won’t resume until the third section of the story, so for now, Bierce uses the break in the action to give us details about Farquhar’s past. After this flashback in the second section, the action resumes not in reality but in fantasy. Although Farquhar will die in a matter of seconds after he plunges from the bridge, his final thoughts of escape and reunion with his family fuel the imaginative flight that makes up the third section of the story. By portraying Farquhar’s final thoughts and impressions as reality, Bierce reveals his preoccupation with the conventions of prose. The passage serves as an early indication of the surprise ending to come.