1a. Describe the man on the railroad bridge and explain his situation. What is about to happen to him? How do you know?
2a. What does the gray-clad soldier tell Farquhar and his wife when he stops by their home?
3a. What happens to Farquhar at the end of the story?
4a. How are Farquhar's experiences after his escape realistic? How are they unrealistic?
5a. How effectively has the author depicted Farquhar's psychological trauma? Justify your decision from the text.
1b. How did Peyton Farquhar get into this predicament? What was his crime and who is punishing him?
2b. What details suggest that Farquhar might attempt to destroy the railroad bridge?
3b. How much real time probably elapses between our introduction to Farquhar on the railroad bridge and his hanging? How much time elapses during his escape?
4b. Naturalism was a literary movement of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that portrayed the lives of characters as being determined, or caused, by outside events or forces. In what way is Farquhar's experience naturalistic?
5b. In "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" the reader does not learn that Farquhar dies until the last paragraph. If possible, view the film version of this story and compare the written with the visual and auditory clues.
Flashback. Review the definition for flashback in the Handbook of Literary Terms. Then fill in the chart, listing the story's events in the order that you read about them on the left. On the right, list the events in chronological order. How does the flashback in this story advance the plot? What necessary information does the flashback provide?
Psychological Fiction. Review the definition for psychological fiction in Literary Tools on page 354. What parts of the story qualify it as psychological fiction?
1. Imagine that you are the Union captain in the story. Write an entry in your journal, stating what happened on the Owl Creek bridge today—who you captured, why, and how you punished him.
2. Write the military order that the passing soldier describes to Peyton Farquhar and that was posted for Southern civilians to read.
3. Write a dream report about Farquhar's "escape." In other words, choose a sequence from the section that details his "escape," but make it more dreamlike or surreal, to differentiate it from reality.
Helping Verbs. Read the Language Arts Survey 3.8, "Helping Verbs." Then rewrite the following sentences and star (*) the verbs.
1. It did not appear to be the duty of these two men to know what was occurring at the center of the bridge.
2. The sentinels, facing the banks of the stream, might have been statues to adorn the bridge.
3. This plank had been held in place by the weight of the captain.
4. "The Yanks are repairing the railroads," said the man, "and are getting ready for another advance."
5. The captain had drawn his pistol, but did not fire.
Technical Writing. Describe how to do a task with which you are familiar, such as copying a document on a computer. Read the Language Arts Survey 6.4, "Step-by-Step Directions" for some tips on how to begin.
Sensory Details Chart. With a couple classmates, create a sensory details chart for part III of "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge," when Farquhar "escapes." Reread that part of the selection, select a sense, and fill in the appropriate section of the chart. Finally, share your findings with the rest of the group so that everyone can fill in the missing sections on his or her chart.
Screenplay. Write a screenplay for part III of the selection. Describe Farquhar's actions and in parentheses add special effects, such as lighting and music, to suggest dreamlike effects.