Lesson 15 Life Choices:

Ambrose Bierce


Pre-reading question:

1) Pay close attention to Bierce's language. Does it lead you to expect, or perhaps suspect anything at the end?
2) Vocabulary: slack, traversed, sentinels, stockade, subordinate, manifestation, etiquette, fixity, knell, secessionist, imperious, gallant, chafe, summarily, tinder, ramification, periodicity, pulsating, effaced, oscillation, pendulum, undulations, insupportable, preternaturally, prismatic, gesticulated, perceptibly, martinet, diminuendo (an Italian word, used in music), smitten, grape (not a fruit, but a type of shot), commingled, vortex, velocity, gyration, audibly, roseate, Aeolian harps, delirium, veranda, ineffable,.

Post-reading questions:

1) Does the end of the story come as a surprise to you? Why?
2) Go back and look at section three now that you know the ending. Do you find yourself reading it differently this time? What differences do you see in the story the second time around?
3) How do you think Bierce feels about Farhquhar? The soldiers? Explain your thoughts.
4) How does Bierce's use of language change in part three? Why do you think it changes so radically?

Related Links:

The Ambrose Bierce Site: http://donswa.home.pipeline.com/

The Ambrose Bierce Appreciation Site: http://www.biercephile.com/

Watch "An Occurrence" here: http://www.liketelevision.com/web1/movies/owlcreek/

An interesting collection of the rumors about what happened to Bierce: http://www.biercephile.com/death.html

The Devil's Dictionary, Bierce's classic work: http://www.alcyone.com/max/lit/devils/

Movie stills from a new version of "Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge": http://www.owlcreekproductions.com

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