Ambrose Bierce and Tom Whitecloud’ Short Stories

“An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” by Ambrose Bierce

In what ways are the condemned man’s perceptions of time and motion distorted as he is waiting to be hanged?

Ambrose Bierce depicts the protagonist who is condemned to be hanged, and he does not realize the fringe between illusion and reality. Farquhar’s perceptions of time and motion can be discussed as distorted because he tries to prolong his life in his thoughts, and his mind makes the perception of time and motion slower than it is in reality. It is stated in the first lines of the story that the water under the bridge is swift, but then the readers have the opportunity to observe the protagonist’s perception of the water’s motion. Farquhar’s eyes follow a piece of driftwood, and the author accentuates the differences in the illusory time and real-time by using the exclamation marks, “how slowly it appeared to move! What a sluggish stream!” (Bierce 3).

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What is ironic about the fact that Farquhar agrees with the saying that, “all is fair in love and war?”

The author’s usage of the phrase that “all is fair in love and war” emphasizes the fact that Farquhar’s fate is a vivid example of the possible injustice which can be directed toward a soldier or a civilian in different aspects of life (Bierce 7). That is why Farquhar’s agreement with the statement sounds ironic to the readers who follow the peculiarities of his destiny.

What details in Part III suggest that Farquhar’s journey occurs in his mind?

Bierce accentuates the unreality of the depicted objects and processes which can be the result of Farquhar’s imagination with focusing on the unique acuteness of the protagonist’s perceptions. Thus, the author states that “he was now in full possession of his physical senses. They were, indeed, preternaturally keen and alert” (Bierce 12). Moreover, Farquhar notices such details of the surroundings which are impossible to be seen by an ordinary man. They are, for instance, the elements of the insects and the “prismatic” colors of the grass.

Point of view refers to the vantage point from which the story is told. Why is the limited third-person point of view appropriate for this story? How might the story be different if Bierce had used an omniscient third-person narrator?

The limited third-person’s point of view allows the readers’ following the story with few opportunities to predict its end, and the fact addresses the author’s idea to depict the last moments of the condemned man’s life. The appearance of the omniscient third-person narrator could change the character of narrating and presenting the details of illusion and reality.

“Blue Winds Dancing” by Tom Whitecloud

What do you learn in the first section of the story about the conflict in the attitudes of the narrator? What is his attitude toward civilization? If he is the protagonist, who or what is the antagonist?

The narrator experiences the conflict which is associated with the issues of stereotypes and prejudice according to different cultures and ethnicities. His attitude to civilization can be discussed as negative because this notion depends on definite limits and has an artificial character. The narrator states that “being civilized means trying to do everything you don’t want to, never doing everything you want to” (Whitecloud 1). The narrator’s antagonist is not portrayed directly but can be perceived in the depictions of his surroundings and the actual situation with the “white” people involved.

What does the narrator mean by saying, “I am alone; alone but not nearly so lonely as I was back on campus at school?”

The narrator says, “I am alone; alone but not nearly so lonely as I was back at the campus at school” (Whitecloud 3). There is opposition between the two notions of being ‘alone’ and being ‘lonely’. Observing the picturesque landscapes, the narrator feels that he is alone in his interactions with the powers of nature. However, this feeling is different from being lonely when you are surrounded by a lot of people who do not understand you and your culture as well as you cannot admit their vision of civilization.

What do you think is meant by the blue winds dancing – what kind of wisdom?

The symbol of the blue winds dancing can be observed throughout the whole story. The blue winds symbolize the powers of nature which are close to the narrator according to his ethnic peculiarities and culture. It is his vision of the home and comfort. “Home, and peace, and the beat of drums, and blue winds dancing over snowfields. The Indian lodge will fill with my people, and our gods will come and sit among them” (Whitecloud 1). The wisdom of ancestors is presented through the image of the blue winds dancing.

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References

Bierce, Ambrose. An Occurrence at Owl Creek. USA: CreateSpace, 2011. Print.

Whitecloud, Tom. Blue Winds Dancing. n.d. Web.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, March 4). Ambrose Bierce and Tom Whitecloud' Short Stories. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/ambrose-bierce-and-tom-whitecloud-short-stories/

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StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Ambrose Bierce and Tom Whitecloud' Short Stories'. 4 March.

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