“The War Prayer”, “Chickamauga”, and “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”

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Although they bear minor similarities, the differences between Mark Twain and AMbrose Bierce is remarkable. Reading stories from both of these authors really give you insight on their views of war. Each author used great tone in getting their points across. I believe both objected to war but used different outlook to explain it. The Civil War played major role in shaping literature at this time. Irony is the word to use in explaining “The War Prayer” by Mark Twain, “Chickamauga” and “ An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” by Ambrose Bierce.

“ It was a time of great and exalting excitement. The country was up in arms, the war was on, in every breast burned the holy fire of patriotism” (340). Twain started his audience off to think he was in favor of war. He uses religion to appeal to his readers. The stories took place in a church where the preacher prays for the soldiers protection and victory over their foes. The preachers pray was good and patriotic. A stranger approached with a message, “Oh Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead.”(342) stating that this was the second part of the prayer. Twain wants his audience to look at the war and religion differently. By the end of the story, the clear irony is that he objected to War and Religion.

Ambrose Beirce fought in the Civil War, his attention to details in his literature work really shows that, especially in “Chickamauga”. This story takes the theme of childhood trauma, a young southern boy ventures away from home. The young boy gets lost in more than one way. He is lost and wandering through the wood until he grew tired and fell asleep. He woke up to wounded soldiers retreating from battle, “They were men. They crept upon their hands and knees”.(403) This was the boy second lost within fantasy and reality. He showed no fear of horror sense that was before him. Bierce used emotions to appeal to audience. The boys naive mind set, takes the reader on a emotional roller coaster ride. The author was object to war. The last line “he stood motionless, with quivering lips, looking down upon the wreck.” the boy sees that war has no good ending.

In “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” Beirce played on emotion once again in this story. He uses Petyon Farquhar a norther who is being hung for his attempt to sabotage a bridge. Beirce gettings his point across in harsh reality kind of way. He gives his readers a insight on how war can get you caught up. “No service was too humble for him to perform in aid of the South”(397) he was willing to give his life to south. He was farmer and owned slaves he was naturally devote to south for his family and livelihood.(396) Beirce use the mind of a man condemned to death to illustrate how much war has an affect on people.

Mark Twain and Ambrose Bierce were both anti war authors and had impressive way of delivering that to their readers. They both use related view to make the story appealing. Twain uses a more religious and reality approach in his story “The War Prayer”. Beirce uses emotion and fantasy approach to get his point across. All three stories show how the war impacted the authors and their work.


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“The War Prayer”, “Chickamauga”, and “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”. (2022, Jan 05). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/the-war-prayer-chickamauga-and-an-occurrence-at-owl-creek-bridge/

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