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"A short story should stimulate the imagination and hold the reader in suspense." Consider this statement with detailed reference to at least two of the stories in the anthology.

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Introduction

"A short story should stimulate the imagination and hold the reader in suspense." Consider this statement with detailed reference to at least two of the stories in the anthology. For this assignment I will be looking at three of Ambrose Bierce's short stories, 'An Arrest', 'An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge' and 'The Affair at Coulters Notch'. In 'An Arrest' a man escapes from jail only to be captured and taken back to his cell by a ghost, In 'An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge', a man is captured and is waiting to be hung on a bridge and as he is dying he imagines himself escaping only to die as he runs to embrace his wife. 'The Affair at Coulters Notch' is about a Southerner fighting for the North in the Civil War, the General of his army doesn't like him and orders him to fire a gun at the enemy, but the target happens to be his own home and Coulter fires the gun without question and kills his family. All three stories are about death and two of them are about the American Civil war. Bierce experienced a lot of unhappiness in his own personal life and may be why many of his stories are about death and bloodshed. 'An Arrest' is typical of Bierce's work in its approach, subject matter and brevity. ...read more.

Middle

When Brower emerges from the forest on to an old road he can see, indistinctly "the figure of a man, motionless in the gloom." The figure is 'motionless' and this stillness adds to the tension. Then the "embodiment of law lift an arm and point significantly toward and beyond him." Here, Bierce is not giving much detail and is leaving parts to our own imagination and we create fear in our own minds. A shadowy figure of a man is more frightening than when you can see some one clearly and Brower doesn't know who he is dealing with, but despite not knowing who the man is Brower follows his order because he is in such fear. Brower does dare to look at his captor once and sees that it is Burton Duff, the jailer that he knocked out, and Duff looks 'as white as death', I think that this is a small clue to the ending but not enough to give it away. Towards the end of the story the sentences become shorter and this speeds up the story and is building up to the climax, the story then ends very suddenly, with the last line saying, 'On a table in the corridor lay the dead body of Burton Duff.' This comes as a shock and we realize that it was his ghost that directed Brower to the jail. ...read more.

Conclusion

he forces him to do something that Coulter doesn't want to do, we don't find out to the end how terrible the act is and this makes us dislike him even more. The General makes Coulter think he has to fire the gun to prove his allegiance but he is really only doing it because he dislikes Coulter, this is a form of bullying. The General's actions make us feel sorry for Captain Coulter and we grow to like him more when we realize how brave he was and what he had done for his army almost without question. From all the stories my favorite would be "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" because I think this is the best example of Ambrose Bierce's writing skills. He creates the character of Peyton Farquhar very well and provides a huge twist at the end of story; some people would have a dislike to the ending and would think that they have been cheated. I think that this was the point Bierce was trying to make. He no doubt felt cheated by life, and I suspect he was suggesting that most of us are cheated by life at some stage. We have these delusions that we will find happiness, love, and caring, and just as we seem to approach it, we find ourselves at the end of a rope. GCSE English Coursework Kevin Mc Anena 12F ...read more.

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