Type: Literary Analysis
Pages: 2 | Words: 452
Reading Time: 2 Minutes

In “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”, Ambrose Bierce uses the most typical features of naturalism. The keynotes of his story are personal traits and compulsive instincts motivating Peyton Farquhar to behave in a particular way. At the beginning, the author stresses that “evidently this [Farquhar] was no vulgar assassin” (Bierce 653). Despite such characteristic, Peyton Farquhar is sentenced to death penalty. The main reason of his untimely death is the fact that he is “ardently devoted to the Southern cause” (654). Farquhar “with the character of a civilian who was at heart a soldier” (655) makes an unsuccessful attempt to explode a bridge, which is of great importance for Federal forces. Unfortunately for him, he elicits the necessary information from the Federal scout. This instinct of a warrior, confidence in rightness of a case he supports, kills him. “Put it back, put it back!” (656) — these shouts of Farquhar show his heroic resistance to possibility of escaping from the punishment. He understands that he is to be punished for the deed.. Planter deliberately goes to fight. The only instinct which motivates him to save himself in the allusion of Bierce is “the thought of his wife and children” (659). This feeling “urged him on” (659). Bierce shows the typical character of the Civil War, whose main motivations for any deeds are the compulsive instincts. Despite this, Farquhar is not typical — he owns the traits, which mark him out.

In “The Open Boat”, Stephen Crane brings in, except the spiritual characters, one unusual for the previous generation of literature — the ocean. The ocean as a character is a feature of naturalism. “The Open Boat” is a story of four men trying to survive. The keynote is the issue of relations of human being with the nature. Resistance to the “the tumbling, boiling flood of white water” (Crane 805) ends in defeat: the boat is “whirled “¦ almost perpendicular” (805). Crane brings the ocean by stressing on the impossibility to resist waves, which “were most wrongfully and barbarously abrupt and tall, and each froth-top was a problem in small-boat navigation” (791). Four men loose their fight with the nature. They are powerless against their rival — ocean, and are to go with the flow. The ocean permanently changes its color. It also snarls and hisses, then “the white waves paced to and fro in the moonlight” (808). Crane characterizes nature’s attitude to men by personification in a few sentences: “She did not seem cruel to him, nor beneficent, nor treacherous, nor wise. But she was indifferent, flatly indifferent” (805). In this way the author summarizes the main idea of the story – the supremacy of nature and the ocean, in particular.

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