Setting in this story plays a crucial role in creating an impact on the reader. The timeframe of when the story is happening is defined almost immediately when Bierce refers to two of the characters being “two private soldiers of the Federal army.” (Bierce 1) The author also describes the setting a s a railroad bridge in northern Alabama. Being a History major I recognize this story to be taking place around the time of the American Civil War.
The setting becomes vivid to the reader throughout the story as the main character, Peyton Farquhar, seemingly in a matter of seconds runs an elaborate plan to get escape his captors and inevitable death by hanging. Just before Farquhar’s demise, the Bierce describes a very vivid and rich environment. The character see’s:
“individual trees, the leaves and the veining of each leaf- he saw the very insects upon them: the locusts, the brilliant bodied flies, the gray spiders stretching their webs from twig to twig. He noted the prismatic colors in all the dewdrops upon a million blades of grass. The humming of the gnats that danced above the eddies of the stream, the beating of the dragon flies’ wings, the strokes of the water spiders’ legs, like oars which had lifted their boat- all the made audible music” (Bierce 2)
As a reader reading this segment, I got a sense of euphoria. The area described by Bierce seemed like a place of peace and tranquility, not a place of death. This led me to believe the main character Farquhar was already dead or nearly there. This scene took me away from the horrors of a man dying to being in a relaxed dream state.
The use of setting played a major role in developing this story for me.