Friday, January 19, 2007

Metallic Percussion

Journal No. 4
English 48B
Dr. Scott Lankford
Author I Chose: Ambrose Bierce

From the short story "An Occurance at Owl Creek Bridge"

I. "[The sounds] hurt his ear like the thrust of a knife; he feared he would shriek. What he heard was the ticking of his watch."

II. Ambrose Bierce is describing a man waiting to die. Peyton Farquhar is waiting to die and is being haunted by the slowness of the seconds before his death.

III. Mr. Farquhar is hanging above a railroad trestle with nothing between himself and death other than a thin piece of plywood, held in place by a man who knows nothing other than purpose and duty. He is waiting to experience the moment of horror as he is brutally hung. Mr. Farquhar hears a "sharp, distinct, metallic percussion like the stroke of a blacksmith's hammer unpon the anvil." The amount of vivid language that Bierce uses here is wonderful. You can feel time slowing, as if the seconds really were turning into years. His descriptions bring to thought the experiences that I have been through where all that you can hear is the rush of blood in your own ears while counting every laborious breath. It is very difficult to not jump out of your own skin in anticipation of the moment coming to fruition. I can not imagine how much more amplified the physical and emotional experiences would be when you are awaiting death in such a concrete, certain way. It makes you wonder- do you really want to be prepared for death, or would you rather have it happen without warning?


Scott said...

20 points. I'll take the quick death I don't know is coming, thank you.