Ambrose Bierce Research Paper

Ambrose Bierce Research Paper-5
Torching that driftwood would have rescued Farquhar from a life of indistinction, illuminating the gallant knight of the Confederacy.

Torching that driftwood would have rescued Farquhar from a life of indistinction, illuminating the gallant knight of the Confederacy.

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But nobility in the Farquhar family is always faintly ridiculous.

The "thumbnail burlesque of martial rhetoric," as F. Logan describes Farquhar's delusory heroics, is established almost from the beginning of the story.

When Farquhar is hanged, his senses, like those of Poe's narrator, expand and deepen to become "preternaturally keen and alert"; they are "exalted and refined," recording phenomena "never before perceived" (309).

Farquhar notes the minutest sensuous details of his surroundings and acquires astounding abilities, dodging and deflecting bullets ("Some of them touched him on the face and hands, then fell away" [311]), shrewdly calculating the timing and trajectory of cannon fire, and noting arcane military tactics.

Peyton Farquhar believes -- as do the readers -- that he has escaped execution and, under heavy gunfire, has made his way back home.

But by the end, he is dangling from a rope, his adventure unceremoniously squelched.This sabotage will release Farquhar's true "energies," which the "inglorious restraint" of his having escaped -- perhaps dodged -- the Civil War has thus far suppressed (307).These supposed "energies" thus become the very substance of his fantasy escape." (311) -- a point that confirms the fantastic nature of his escape even as it foreshadows its collapse.Having fled the river and arrived at the street leading home, Farquhar hears "whispers in an unknown tongue" (312), and at that word -- "tongue" -- Bierce returns his protagonist to the reality of his hanging, contracting the play of Farquhar's preternatural senses to the image of his tongue swelling and thrusting forward.On the bridge, having noted the swiftness of the stream's current, Farquhar has observed a pivotal object floating upon it. Time and space are suddenly altered, and Farquhar thinks, "What a sluggish stream! His dream begins, perhaps before the hanging itself commences.Fittingly, the object floating down the stream is a "piece of dancing driftwood" (306), the very same driftwood that, had he succeeded at burning it, would have served as the crowning instrument of his heroism.Farquhar has finally become a heroic soldier, "himself the pivotal point" (310).Most readers grow suspicious by the time Farquhar cries, "God help me, I cannot dodge them all!But this narration actually occurs from within the fantasy already begun.His "last thoughts" before hanging were not of his family at all.


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